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Investigation: Container ships for use as FEMA housing?

November 30, 2012 3:12:41 PM PST
FEMA has been struggling to find housing for thousands of people who can't live in their homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Sources say the government is now looking at using some type of vessels for temporary housing in coastal areas where so many homes were destroyed.

Anger over a lack of temporary housing for storm victims appears to be growing. It may explain why FEMA earlier this week put out this request for information on Maritime Housing for Hurricane Sandy victims.

According to the proposal FEMA is looking for vessels that are "single modular units" that ideally "sleep two to six adults". They would serve as stand-alone boats or ''interconnected to create a single dwelling."

Robert Warren is a maritime engineer and architect who designed vessels for the Navy.

"You'd be amazed at how fast that can be assembled," said Robert Warren, a Maritime Engineer and Architect.

Warren says time does not allow building a vessel from scratch so barges will likely be part of any viable proposal.

"You could actually take individual containers or FEMA trailers and stack them on barges," Warren said.

In FEMA's request, the agency makes clear, they are not looking for information on cruise ships which were used to house those displaced by Katrina. But these vessels would allow families living on them to carry out normal day to day activities while they seek permanent housing.

"Can they be built as apartments? Container ships can stack as many as seven containers, maybe 10 on larger ships," Warren said.

Whatever the configuration, these temporary boat houses would likely be a welcomed sight for thousands displaced people still looking for a place to call home.

"We do need someplace to say that will keep us warm and comfortable," said Edna Caro, a Gerritsen Beach resident.

Eyewitness News has learned that neither the city nor the state expressed any interest in maritime housing; rather the request for ideas from potential contractors comes from FEMA in Washington which says it's exploring all housing options.

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