County not enforcing deadlines
Orange County Commissioners said Monday that while cities do enforce deadlines for residents to vacate FEMA housing units, the county does not.
County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said it was apparently a case of FEMA “passing the buck” in what appears to be a miscommunication between management and case workers.
Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose said he’d received some complaints about it.
“It’s just an outright lie,” he said. “I’m sorry but that’s the truth of the matter, and I want FEMA to honor its commitments to the folks in Orange County.”
Thibodeaux agreed, saying the county does not enforce deadlines to leave a FEMA mobile home “in any way, shape or form.” He added, “If it were up to us [residents] could stay all they want.
There does have to be a limit – and I understand that.”
It was a case of the system not working, noting his past displeasure with the organization.
He said he’d received a message from FEMA that the problem was being addressed.
“Hopefully we’ll nip it in the bud but it may unfortunately pop up again,” he said. “A few months ago, they asked me to sign a letter explaining to citizens living in FEMA trailers why they would have to leave. Of course, I’m not going to put my name on anything FEMA’s got.”
Cities are required to enforce deadlines because of city ordinances, he said.
New generators approved
Commissioners approved nearly $800,000 in government money (through FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management) to buy and install eight emergency generators.
Franklin Walters of Orange County Emergency Management said three would go to the courthouse/administration building complex, one to Vidor City Hall, one to the Vidor Emergency Operations Center, one to Emergency Services District 1 (Vidor fire department), one to Emergency Services District 4 (McLewis fire department) and one to the Orange Public Works Building. County Auditor Debbie Rawls provided the specific locations.
Navy Park demolitions
Four historic houses will be torn down soon in Navy Park, as commissioners approved an agreement between the state Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the state Historic Preservation Office and Ike Akbari/Don Ball representing the Orange Navy II group.
Akbari with Itex Developers in Port Arthur has ongoing projects in the neighborhood, designed for residents with median incomes.
“The county doesn’t have a problem with it, neither does the city of Orange,” Thibodeaux said, adding that developers will be under a strict set of regulations. If any artifacts are uncovered, the work must stop immediately.
The four houses will make way for 11 new houses and the renovation of about 25 of the Kingston Apartments, primarily in the areas of Dewey, Decatur and Farragut streets.
“It’s no cost to the county,” Thibodeaux said. “It’s a support issue … the state wants to realize that the county understands what’s going on and has no problem with it.”
Nightclub owner Buster Johnson owned much of Navy Park at one time. Officers’ quarters were confined to their own section on the grounds. The community was built more than 60 years ago to house shipyard workers during World War II.
The units were among the first housing facilities constructed specifically to support wartime production.
In addition to streets there named after Naval heroes, another street honors Franklin Roosevelt, president during most of the war.