JOPLIN — Federal officials have decided to use land near the Joplin Regional Airport to build a mobile home park to house some of those who lost their homes in the May 22 tornado.
The 50 acres on Missouri Highway 171 will accommodate 348 modular homes, said Crystal Payton, external affairs representative for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be in charge of contracting construction for the mobile homes. FEMA wants to start construction within a week.
The tornado that hit Joplin on May 22 destroyed about 7,000 homes in Joplin, as well as houses in Duquesne and rural areas of Jasper and Newton counties, The Joplin Globe reported.
A total of 624 families have needed interim housing although that number constantly changes, said Pam Willis, a FEMA housing specialist for Joplin. People still living in a Red Cross shelter in Webb City will be given priority for housing at the mobile home park. That number dropped from about 60 last week to 15 on Tuesday.
The city had planned to use the site of the FEMA park for a new $7.1 million public safety training center, but those plans have been put on hold, said Lynn Onstot, public information officer for the city of Joplin.
The public comment period that FEMA is required to organize has been shortened from 14 days to three days because of the urgent need for housing, Payton said.
It will take 45 to 60 days to set up the entire park, but the first phase could be ready in 18 days. The homes will be provided free of charge for up to 18 months, retroactive to May 9, when FEMA first arrived in Missouri to help with flooding relief. The deadline to register with FEMA is July 8.
About 9,000 people in Jasper and Newton counties have registered with FEMA as having been affected by the tornado.
The modular homes are 60 feet by 14 feet, with three bedrooms and one bathroom. They are equipped with appliances and furniture.
FEMA has installed 32 similar mobile homes at two commercial trailer parks, Fountain Road Village and Country Acres Mobile Home Park. Willis said 11 were occupied as of Tuesday.