The ugly side of FEMA
The old FEMA reared its head Monday as a Bridge City Teacher was kicked to the curb.
April Malagarie, a first grade teacher at Sims elementary in Bridge City was evicted from her grandmother’s FEMA trailer located at 223 Dobbyn in Bridge City, Monday, when a crew of 15 came to take the temporary housing away. Preparing to remove the trailer with all of Malagarie’s belongings still in it, FEMA laborers on site would not answer any questions or make any statement.
Ericka Lopez from FEMA External Affairs said, “We are working with the applicant…It’s a bit of a sticky situation…I can’t give any details on the applicant due to privacy issues,” all as workers were in process of disconnecting the mobile home for removal.
Malagarie was on her way back from Conroe and was not on the premises at the time. Neighbors worked frantically to remove Malagarie’s belongings before workers pulled out with the trailer.
Step back a few months:
Malagarie’s home at 1291 Cottage Lane received four feet of water during Hurricane Ike. She had been told by FEMA she couldn’t get a trailer at her home because it was too low. A close friend took in her and her four year old twin girls, allowing her to stay in a camper on her driveway and later in the house while she looked for someplace to live.
“My Grandmother, Inez Hearn (90 years old) lived in a FEMA trailer and was ready to move back into her house in January 2009.
After talking to FEMA and they gave her permission to allow me and my twins to move into the FEMA Trailer in her driveway until we could find suitable housing, so I could be closer to work at the school,” said Malagarie.
FEMA had originally told them she could keep the trailer for up to 18 months after she received it.
“In the meantime I was looking for a house for me and my girls. I found a house at 850 Amber Kay Lane in Bridge City and closed on it May 28, 2009. The house had been gutted but, still needed to be repaired,” she said.
“About a week and a half ago FEMA had called and was checking on my status. I told them I was about four weeks from being able to move to my new house. I spoke with Mike Piper-FEMA and he said he would get me an extension for five weeks but, this was it and all they could do.”
Friday she received a call from FEMA to see when they could come and pick up the trailer. It was scheduled for pick up Monday, July 6, “I told the lady I had an extension and she said, NO I was scheduled to be moved Monday. I spoke to her supervisor which I told the same story. She said Mike Piper had been transferred and he did not have authority to tell people about extensions and maybe that is why he is not working in this department.”
“I asked if I could speak to someone above her but, she said there was no discussion BE OUT BY MONDAY and hung up on me,” said the teacher. “About two hours later there is a knock at the door and when I open the door a guy says there had been an emergency pick up call to pick the trailer up by FEMA. After he discussed it with his supervisor and said there is a family still living in it they left. A few hours after that I returned again to the trailer to find a duct tape note to the door from FEMA stating ‘you are an unauthorized occupant of this unit. You have until 7/6/09 to be out of this unit.’”
The teacher was only trying to stay in the home two more weeks, until her new house could be completed. She didn’t want to move her girls again, as they have lived in five different locations since the hurricane.
“They’ve become real clingy and shy,” said close friend, Lisa Anderson. They won’t sleep in their beds anymore. “They’re sleeping with [April],” Anderson said.
Malagarie’s contractor said that within one week he could possibly have one bedroom and one bathroom finished where they could move into that part of the house. In the meantime, Malagarie and the twins will be bouncing from one house to another. Her belongs are piled up in her grandmother’s garage, with thanks to her friends and neighbors.