The number of people still struggling to rebuild their homes 16 months after floods swept through Baton Rouge has persuaded some local government officials that the city-parish should allow people to keep trailers on their property for a bit longer next year.
Early in the new year, Metro Council members are expected to vote on whether to reinstate the local zoning laws that usually prevent people from keeping trailers and mobile homes on their property.
Council members suspended the ordinance after the August 2016 floods swamped an estimated 41,100 residential structures across East Baton Rouge Parish. And City Hall granted waivers for people to live in temporary housing, such as FEMA manufactured housing units or privately owned trailers, as they rebuilt their homes.
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Earlier this month, Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso proposed reinstating the zoning laws. He said it was nearing time for Baton Rouge to return to normalcy and his proposal only would have affected privately owned units.
FEMA has decided its manufactured housing units can stay on lots until next May, though the federal agency will start charging rent next March.
But Amoroso said Friday he will back off his original request after receiving extensive blowback. He said a barrage of people have contacted him saying they need to stay in trailers while they finish house repairs.
Amoroso now plans to propose that people can keep trailers on their property for another six months.
"I knew people were still struggling," Amoroso said. "I didn't realize the number of private trailers that were in people's yards ... It seems like it would do more harm than good."
Councilwoman Erika Green, whose district was one of the hardest hit by the floods, said many people who are not back in their homes yet are still waiting on money from the state's Restore Louisiana program. Others are on their third or fourth contractor, she said.
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She estimated that half the people in her district who used mobile homes immediately after the floods are still living in them. And Baton Rouge still had about 1,330 of the FEMA manufactured housing units by mid-November, city-parish assistant chief administrative officer Rowdy Gaudet previously said.
"We're close to getting back to normalcy but I'd say we're still probably about 6 months out," Green said.
Amoroso plans to amend his proposal during the Metro Council meeting Jan. 10. Allowing for six more months from then would give people until July 2018 to keep mobile homes on their property.
Marjorie and Charles “Chuck” Gill had $165,200 of flood insurance coverage on their three-bedroom home near Bayou Manchac.