Recreational Vehicles House Displaced Hurricane Victims in Time of Need

Despite the fact that at least 98% of homes with basements experience at least some level of water damage, it’s an event that most homeowners dread. Of course, a little flooding from a heavy rainstorm is nothing compared to what families in North Carolina — and throughout many of the southern states — have experienced in the aftermath of the major hurricanes that have roared throughout the region. Instead of dealing with a small bit of water damage, many of these families lost their homes completely. The U.S. Department of Home Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which manages the National Flood Insurance Program, is charged with coordinating disaster relief efforts. While the agency was criticized after its response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico and even for its delays in dispensing aid to Texans after Hurricane Harvey rolled through, it seems officials are taking at least some action to help displaced families in North Carolina following Hurricane Florence.

The agency’s solution is a bit unique in this instance: they’ll be loaning recreational vehicles to hundreds of people whose houses were deemed uninhabitable thanks to hurricane damage. While many of these families choose to stay with friends and family, this isn’t an option for some. FEMA will move RVs and mobile homes to those who have no options for housing during the time it takes for their own homes to be repaired. Ideally, FEMA will place these RVs right on the property of the home; in cases where that isn’t possible due to flooding, the home will be placed in an already established mobile home park.

Thus far, FEMA has already delivered at least eight of these temporary dwellings and expects at least 18 more to be installed shortly. The mobile homes also come with a “living kit,” which includes pots and pans, bedding, and a coffeemaker. The agency reports that nearly 780 families in North Carolina have requested this type of housing assistance. FEMA reports that they have over 100 travel trailers available for this purpose, which can house families for up to six months. The mobile homes and RVs are available to families living in the North Carolina counties — Brunswick, Columbus, Carteret, Duplin, New Hanover, Jones, Onslow, Robeson, and Peder — determined by FEMA to have an inadequate amount of rental housing available. As an alternative, manufactured homes will be made available for those whose homes require more extensive repairs.

But North Carolina isn’t the only place where RV-related assistance has been offered to hurricane survivors. In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle, RV Advisor — an advice platform for RV owners and enthusiasts — is stepping up to make a difference. CEO Gigi Stetler, who also founded the first and only female-owned RV company in the U.S., has worked to establish safe and reliable transport routes in order to send relief supplies and emergency housing to the areas in the Sunshine State that were hit the hardest by the storm. The company is also donating $50 worth of supplies and canned goods to those affected for every $25 spent on membership by their dealers, suppliers, vendors, and customers.

Stetler has involved herself in hurricane relief efforts in the past, as well; her companies have supplied aid and emergency housing to those affected by Hurricanes Andrew, Charlie, Wilma, Erma, Katrina, and others. RV Advisor has encouraged recreational vehicle dealers, owners, and members of the community to join their efforts — and considering there are as many as 30 million RV enthusiasts nationwide, this could make a huge difference.

While the frequency and severity of these recent hurricanes is frightening, it’s encouraging to know that private citizens are willing to help by supplementing what the federal government provides.

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