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RVIA: Send FEMA Trailers to Haiti

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

The Recreation Vehicle Industry
(RVIA) is quietly promoting the idea that unused travel trailers set to be
auctioned by the General Services Administration (GSA) be sent to Haiti to house those left
homeless by last week’s tragic earthquake. Coon outlined the association’s efforts in a
note to RVIA board members on January 18, and told RVBusiness.com today that RVIA lobbyists are contacting the appropriate
federal agencies to pitch the idea. “Our lobbyists are checking with the appropriate
agencies,” said Coon, who added that the RV industry stands ready to provide traditional
RVs for housing in Haiti. Originally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
purchased the trailers for emergency housing after the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes. Tens of
thousands went unused and remain in storage lots. “We are just trying to make government
officials aware that there are a lot of FEMA trailers in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana
that could be used by the poor people in Haiti,” said RVIA President Richard Coon told
RVBUSINESS.com. One problem in sending FEMA units to Haiti is the negative publicity
garnered by lawsuits alleging that recipients of the trailers following hurricanes Katrina
and Rita were harmed by high levels of formaldehyde in a handful of trailers. One lawsuit
already has been decided in favor of Gulf Stream Coach, while Fleetwood Industries settled
a second one. Others are still in federal court in Louisiana. “I’m sure the government will
be thinking about all the bad publicity they might get,” Coon said. He said federal
officials have yet to respond to the idea. The GSA on Friday announced that it was delaying
for two weeks the planned auction of 15,000 trailers that are stored in Hope, Ark. “There
are units down there that the Haitians could use for housing and so could the people who
are going down there to help,” Coon said. “I’m sure the Haitians would love to have an RV
or a (FEMA) temporary housing unit,” Coon said. He noted that travel trailers and
recreational park trailers now are built to meet strict formaldehyde standards set by the
California Air Resources Board (CARB). “The RV industry stands ready if anyone wants to buy
more travel trailers,” he said. Story courtesy of RV Business.

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