Moulton resident Joyce Dunn was one of the few remaining April 27, 2011, tornado victims still living in a FEMA trailer — until last month, when the federal agency told her to pay a fee or get out.
Dunn, whose husband died in the storm, said internal bruising and foot injuries left her “unrecognizable” after the tornado hit Lawrence County. The trailer she shared with her spouse and two children also was destroyed.
Dunn moved in with her 29-year-old son Mikey and his family after the storm for four months, until a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer became available.
FEMA officials announced last week that residents enrolled in the agency’s 18-month temporary housing program would have to pay a fee beginning Oct. 28.
Dunn said she would have to pay an initial $500 fine and $700 for monthly rent to continue living in the trailer on Alabama 157.
“They told us up front that it would take 17 to 18 months for us to stay in the trailer,” she said. “But I’ve got a roof over my head, and I’m very blessed. Some didn’t even have that.”
Dunn is back living with her son again until workers complete construction of her home in Lawrence County later this month.
FEMA reports more than 250 Alabama residents died and 2,200 were injured statewide in the storm. About 7,500 houses and mobile homes were destroyed.
Yasamie August, spokeswoman for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said 49 Alabama families remain in FEMA housing, with two in Limestone and five in Lawrence counties.
FEMA spokesman Danon Lucas said the monthly fee varies per household and is set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“FEMA personnel continue to visit each disaster applicant to share updated information on available housing resources and to encourage them to take advantage of these resources,” Lucas said.
Paul Lott, of the Lawrence County Long Term Community Recovery Committee, said 2,187 Lawrence victims registered with FEMA and 41 families secured temporary housing last year.
Lott is working with volunteers to build homes for displaced victims and is pushing FEMA to approve extensions for residents who haven’t found permanent housing.
Lott said Lawrence County residents enrolled in the temporary housing programs have had mixed reactions to FEMA’s deadline.
“Most of them understand and are appreciative, but some of them feel like it’s their home,” he said. “There’s a feeling of entitlement with some people.”
Victims enrolled in the disaster case management program through Serve Alabama will continue to receive services.
The conclusion of the temporary housing program also applies to 26 Alabama families receiving rental assistance since the storm.
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