The only reason they even have the FEMA "travel trailer" to live in, Mr. G tells me, is due to the news coverage of a local reporter Bill Campo. He found Mr. and Mrs. G living and sleeping on their porch during the winter months after the storm. The house was full of mold and mildew. They were in a hotel for a time after the storm, but then they had to get out. So they began living on their porch as they had no where else to go. They were told they were going to get a Senior's Handicapped Trailer, instead they received the "travel trailer" which was donated to them from caring people from Baton rouge. Due to Bill Campo's coverage, they were moved to a hotel for 3 months. The trailer was delivered and before they even got into the trailer, Mr. G tells of people coming and stealing parts off of the trailer, door parts, the light fixtures...
They lament. The FEMA "travel trailer" was not supposed to be permanent and is very difficult to live in. It is too small for 2 of them. (I have noticed on my visits that Mrs. G has a tendency to spend time in the trailer, whilst Mr. G is on the porch or in the gutted house by day.)
(Note: Thanks to Caty's help, the social worker from Covenant House, they are at least "in the system" to get the right size trailer to live in.Note 7/2/07 Caty has tried, another social worker has tried, I have tried to advocate on their behalf with FEMA - no Handicapped trailer will be issued to them.)
At night it is difficult for them to rest and sleep. They tell me that they can feel the metal springs in their bodies from the flimsy mattress that they sleep on. It is painful. They called FEMA and were told they were going to get another mattress - as of yet, no new mattress.
One of them he tells me, sleeps in the bed and one of them on the travel trailer "bench sofa" because of Mrs. G's handicapped leg.
They both tell me the horrors of the trailer being infested with roaches. Mr. G says that being a man he can tolerate it better than Mrs. G, she tells me that it is so hard for her and she gets very upset when she feels them touching her body. (She keeps the inside of the trailer spotless - the issue with the roaches is the backing up of the sewage and the fact that it is a travel trailer).
Can you believe that you are even reading this - now allow your heart to imagine the horror of your grandparents living it...
Then there is the banging on the outside of the trailer at night. Mr. G says he knows what is going on. they are banging on they trailer to get him to come out, so that they can jump him. He tells me, with genuine concern on his face for me, never go outside when they are doing this. He warns me "to be careful".
The sewage water is coming back up into the FEMA trailer through the tub and the sink. They need to go out several times a day to pull a lever to empty the sewage tank which is not adequate for their needs. It is not easy for Mr. G to get to. This trailer is meant to be a "travel trailer" and does not have a proper sewage system. (Note: When I sit on their porch and visit with them, I can smell the sewage.)
Often at night, when the door and windows are closed, the red warning light of the gas alarm comes on. It means, Mr. G tells me, that they have to get out of the trailer. He tells me, they have a leak in the butane system. The butane he tells me, builds up in the trailer. When the red warning alarm comes on, they open all the doors and windows in the "travel trailer" until the red warning light/alarm goes off.
"No one comes and checks it. We called C. Martin - the maintenance people - they have not responded to our calls. You expect people to come when you file a complaint. He then tells me, the butane tank sits up so high, it is hard for him to change it once a month, as it sits off the ground too high" (see above photo).
He mentions a few times how unsafe these travel trailers are for families to live in. Little children he says, turn on the butane on the stove when playing, they just turn the knob and the butane comes flows in, then they push the button - the trailers blow up. They are not safe for families and children he tells me again.
That is why there is an alarm - to tell you to get out.
He moves on, there are no drawers for their clothing in the "travel trailer", nor hangers (clothes) for their clothes.
They should have been living in a full size trailer he tells me and then points to the trailer across the street. There would be places for our clothes. You would have space, you could walk around in a full sized trailer.
Sorrow and love have an eternal relationship,
for as long as there are any who suffer,
the heart of compassion will feel sorrow.
"The Calendar of Healing"