FEMA Trailer Mom Says Deal Won't Help
LUKE BURBANK, host:
Well, I mean, even though it's not a permanent solution, a lot of these trailers have really become home for people. I've been in FEMAvilles in various places in Florida and Louisiana. And one of those people is Lindsey Huckabee. She lives in a FEMA trailer in Pass Christian, Mississippi with her husband and five children. Before Katrina hit, the family was renting an apartment in nearby Kiln, Mississippi.
Lindsey Huckabee joins us now. Hi, Lindsey.
Ms. LINDSEY HUCKABEE (FEMA Trailer Resident, Pass Christian, Mississippi): Hi. How are you?
BURBANK: Good. Did you hear any of the interview that we were just doing?
Ms. HUCKABEE: Yes, I did.
BURBANK: Do you think this money relocation, would it - is it something you want to take?
Ms. HUCKABEE: Us, personally, no. I think that Ms. Spake is right on as far as people who are willing and able to move away from the coast. I think that it would be an optimal program for them. But for people who have no desire to leave here, whose roots are here, their family's here, this is home, I don't think this really does anything at all to help anyone.
BURBANK: Tell me about your life with your five children in this trailer.
Ms. HUCKABEE: It's very cramped. We have one bathroom. There are literally four cabinets in the kitchen. It's very small. It's very tight, but we're together, and I guess that's what matters.
(Soundbite of laughter)
ALISON STEWART, host:
You have a fantastic attitude.
Ms. HUCKABEE: Well, thank you.
BURBANK: Well I mean, with all do respect, though, that sounds like a pretty untenable situation. How was it that you wouldn't take this $4,000 and try to change it?
MS. HUCKABEE: Well, we have family down here. I mean, I grew up down here from the time I was little, and my husband's parents, my husband's grandparents I - our family's down here. My husband also - his job, he's a surveillance technician in one of the local casinos. And that is not a skill that we could just up and move anywhere in the United States with. It would be very specific where we would have to move to, and Vegas isn't just really where we want to raise our children.
BURBANK: I see. But there are lots of stipulations - as Alison was discussing in the last segment - about where you can go if you're going to take this $4,000.
Ms. HUCKABEE: Yes, sir.
BURBANK: And none of those stipulations, none of those places are places that would work for you guys.
Ms. HUCKABEE: No, not really. I mean, it's just - I just - I don't see that working for us.
BURBANK: So what is your plan, exactly, if you're not going to take it? You can't live in this trailer for the rest of your life, right?
Ms. HUCKABEE: No, we definitely can't, because we do have one of the ones with formaldehyde. And this is actually our second trailer FEMA has given us with the high levels of formaldehyde.
We are in the process - we started about six months after the hurricane trying to buy some property. So once we get enough of that paid off to get the deed, then we will hopefully be moving out there. We just had tremendous medical expenses with the formaldehyde, and I have two children that now have asthma, so we've been - it's been real slow for us.
BURBANK: Well, if there's one thing that seems to have emerged from these two interviews, is that this formaldehyde thing is definitely something people are talking about. We're going to have to get more into that, I think, on this show.
Let me just ask, though, Lindsey, so many people who've never been to the region that was affected by Katrina and Rita think they've heard everything about this story. What is it that people don't get about your life?
Ms. HUCKABEE: I think the biggest thing to stress is that this is a place where your average income before the storm was, you know, $25,000 to $30,000, and they're trying to turn it in with the condos and they're raising of rent and the mortgages and everything. They're turning it in to where people who make a low and even moderate income are not going to be able to afford to live here. The prices of property rentals have literally doubled since the hurricane. And this was home to a lot of people who made low to moderate incomes, and I feel almost like we're being run out by the high prices of the condos and all that sort of stuff.
BURBANK: What age range are your kids?
Ms. HUCKABEE: I have an 18-month-old, going all the way up to one that will be 13 in December.
BURBANK: I cannot believe how calm you sound.
Ms. HUCKABEE: Oh, it takes…
STEWART: Are they still asleep?
Ms. HUCKABEE: …two years of practice.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. HUCKABEE: No, they're actually running around, getting ready for school right now.
BURBANK: All right. Well, Lindsey Huckabee from Pass Christian, Mississippi. Listen, thank you very much and…
STEWART: Good luck to you and your family.
BURBANK: Yeah, absolutely.
Ms. HUCKABEE: Well, thank you very much.
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