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02 Apr 2008 18:33
Almost three years after Hurricane Katrina, nearly 40 000 families still are living in vulnerable mobile homes and trailers across the United States Gulf Coast with another hurricane season just two months away, the top US disaster official said on Wednesday.
The number is down from about 100 000 families, or 300 000 people, in April 2006. At one point following the devastating 2005 hurricane season, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) was housing 143 000 families in mobile homes and trailers.
Fema administrator David Paulison said the agency, which was heavily criticized for its hapless response when Katrina swamped New Orleans, is moving about 800 families a week into hotels, motels or apartments.
The families are either living at group sites or in trailers in the driveways of their homes as they rebuild.
The six-month Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1.
Forecasters are expecting above-average storm activity.
“As far as rebuilding, I did expect it to take this long,” Paulison told a small group of reporters at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando.
Katrina killed 1 500 people and caused $80-billion in damage when it swept ashore in late August 2005 near New Orleans, shattering the levees protecting the low-lying city and swamping entire neighbourhoods.—Reuters
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