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The Absurdity of FEMA Contractors

Ladies and gentlemen, please don’t misunderstand me here.  My wife and I are ever so grateful for all the help and assistance afforded to us by both FEMA and the Small Business Administration that helped us in the aftermath of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey.  What I’m having a problem with are the FEMA contractors who were dispatched to remove the trailer FEMA and the Texas Land Office had allowed us to use until we were able to get back into our house.  Obviously what the state and federal officials may think their contractors are going to do is a far cry from what the contractors themselves are willing to do.  Let me explain.

Just like so many others throughout our region, we were provided a trailer in which to live until reconstruction of our house was completed.  After we were able to again live in our house, we contacted FEMA officials who told us contractors would be contacting us to arrange a convenient time when they could remove the trailer.  In fact, we never received a call from the removal contractors.  So imagine my surprise when one afternoon when I returned home after working service calls, I found the trailer gone!  We contacted FEMA the next day and were told that indeed the trailer had been removed.  However, the contractors were to returned our property to what it was before the trailer was installed.  That didn’t happen, and we have been playing cat-and-mouse with FEMA regarding certain situations that continue to exist ever since.  But understand this.  The problem isn’t with FEMA or the Texas Land Office.  The problem is with the failure of their contractors to contact us as instructed, and to alleviate the problems they caused by not completing their tasks as mandated.

When the trailer was delivered and installed, it was necessary to establish a source of electricity that would power the trailer.  The installation contractor installed two breakers in our service entrance box and ran conduit across out patio, under a fence, through and under the front yard around to near the location of the trailer, and to a post holding the electrical connection point.  The trailer removal contractor was to have removed all this including disconnecting the breakers in our service entrance box.  They didn’t!  This is what we have left to deal with:

Service entrance across patio

Across patio under fence

Surfacing to cross front sidewalk

Surfacing to connect at power point

Trailer connection point

As previously stated, this entire added system was to have been removed by the trailer removal contractor, but wasn’t.  I’m physically unable to remove this system by myself, and unless FEMA or the Texas Land Office is able to get one of their contractors out here to remove it, there’s no telling how much it’s going to cost me to have this removed.  But this isn’t the only problem.

Because the trailer became a temporary residence for my wife and granddaughter, there had to be a way of draining sewage from the trailer and disposing of it into the city sewer system.  The trailer installation crew ran a PVC pipe from the trailer to a sewer clean-out port installed into our front yard by the City of Port Arthur.  In order to maintain the proper elevation of that drainage pipe to allow for the sewage to drain into the city system, a series of stakes and clamps were installed along its length.  Unfortunately, the trailer removal contractor didn’t see fit to appropriately remove the drainage system.  Two ground stakes were simply cut off above ground level, and a stabilization strap was simply pounded down into a tree root as opposed to being removed.  Too, at the point where the trailer’s drainage line connected with the clean-out pipe in front of the house, the contractor removed whatever was needed to put a cap on that line to prevent infiltration by rainwater and other things.  You can bet your bottom dollar I’m most likely going to end up picking up the tab to have these things removed.

Cutoff sewer line support stake

Cutoff sewer line stake

Sewer line stabilization strap

City sewer connection point

Please note in the last picture all the white stuff on the ground surrounding the uninstallable cap that;s supposed to be covering the city access pipe.  That’s the residue of sewage that has blown out the access pipe when something was sent towards the city sewer system.  It was the responsibility of the trailer removal contractor to replace what was taken to prevent this from happening, but apparently that contractor thinks I’m made of money and will be all too willing and able to pay the huge penalties if this is caught by the TCEQ or EPA.

After this holiday season passes, I’m again going to be in contact with both FEMA and the Texas Land Office.  Someone has to make them aware their contractors simply aren’t doing the work as ordered, and that I’m physically unable to do it myself.  What this means is that we’re going to have to find a way to use money we don’t have to pay someone else to do what those contractors were supposed to do in the first place; and, this will mean completing the repairs to other areas of our structure simply isn’t going to happen.  After all, money still doesn’t grow on trees.