News: Temporary housing construction under way in Joplin
Story by Chris Gray
JOPLIN, Mo. – Construction began July 5 on temporary housing sites for Joplin residents displaced by the May 22 tornado that destroyed as much as a third of the city.
At the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is managing construction of two mobile home community sites near Joplin Regional Airport, part of the federal government’s tornado recovery effort.
“Probably the most crucial need [after a disaster] is temporary housing,” said FEMA Joplin Division Office supervisor, Mike Karl, during a media event to announce the construction start. “These communities will provide a safe and secure location for families affected by the disaster as they sort out a permanent housing solution.”
The Corps will build temporary gravel pads for housing foundations, emergency storm shelters, bus shelters, mailbox units, gravel and asphalt roadways, and install all utilities. FEMA will provide the mobile home units for the communities, expected to be open for residence by the beginning of August. Together, the two sites will accommodate up to 346 temporary housing units.
“This is an emotional event for us,” said Col. Daniel Patton, commander of the Corps’ Joplin tornado recovery mission. “We’ve spent the last month and-a-half out there removing debris from destroyed homes. Now we get to start building something, which is what the Corps of Engineers is really good at. We’re looking forwarding to the time when we can come back out here and see the first families moving in and rebuilding their lives.”
The Corps finished designing the sites in June, and July 1 awarded two orders against standing contracts to the build temporary housing sites. PRUS Contracting LLC of Cincinnati, Ohio, received a $3,263,316.43 contract order to build the Joplin North housing site, called Officer Jeff Taylor Memorial Acres. TAB Construction Company of Canton, Ohio, received a $2,615,013.26 contract order to build the Joplin South housing site, or Hope Haven. Officer Jeff Taylor Memorial Park honors a Riverside police officer who died of injuries he incurred while responding to the tornado. The Corps maintains a number of standing contracts to more quickly put contractors to work during an emergency response.
“The start of this project is a significant step forward in the Joplin area disaster recovery,” said Joplin City Manager R. Mark Rohr. “Providing housing for the families who were displaced due to the May 22 tornado is important, because these families are ready to regain a sense of normalcy in their daily lives.”
Construction at both sites will continue 24 hours a day for the first three weeks of the project. Each community will be built in phases, allowing residents to move in to completed sections while construction continues on others. Security will be provided throughout the construction, and occupied homes will be separated from the construction site by fencing.
There is no rent charged to residents of FEMA mobile homes, and FEMA pays the cost of basic utilities. Except for a limited number of smaller units for single residents, FEMA mobile homes have three bedrooms, one bathroom, a full kitchen and a living room area, and come furnished.
An estimated 622 temporary housing units are needed to accommodate displaced Joplin residents eligible for housing assistance. The Corps is working with FEMA and the city of Joplin to identify a site to place additional mobile homes. FEMA has provided temporary housing for more than 60 families in existing mobile home communities.