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Number of FEMA mobile homes continues to shrink in Joplin - KOAM TV 7

Number of FEMA mobile homes continues to shrink in Joplin

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A Joplin recovery organization releases numbers that show more tornado survivors are finding a permanent home.

Joplin's Long Term Recovery Committee says 92% of the people who had been living in FEMA mobile homes have moved out.

FEMA says at the peak of Joplin assistance there were 586 families living in the temporary homes.  Now, there are only 45 families still living there.

The FEMA deadline for everyone to move out is June 9.

Tuesday's sketchy weather brought the Morgan family inside one of the many storm shelters at Joplin's FEMA mobile housing area.  The Morgan family's new home is set to be ready in a few weeks.

Resident Clay Morgan speaks of being in the housing area itself which has gone through many changes since after the May 22, 2011 tornado:

"We have lived here since June of 2011," says Morgan.  "We were just awe struck by all the white trailers, there was so many back then."

Social workers say more permanent, affordable housing is now ready.

"It is good to see them back in the community and back to a normal," says social worker Kellee Shepherd.

But the biggest reason why so many people have left the mobile homes may have come from a decision by FEMA in November.  The government agency announced it would start charging rent to stay in the mobile homes.

"They were putting wheels on and moving two or three trailers out a day leading to Christmas," says Morgan.

Social workers say having a job is the "make or break" factor for those still living in temporary housing.

Persistence has paid off for hundreds.

Others still face challenges.

"They have small children - they don't have daycare," says Shepherd.

While some reasons are legit, Morgan knows that's not always the case.  He says he knows other FEMA residents with no plan for the future.

"There probably will be one or two people staying around," Morgan says.

Social workers at the FEMA housing area say they are also continuing to offer assistance to former FEMA residents with ongoing needs.

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