Over 70 families still living in hotels & FEMA trailers after Irma

It’s your money, and FEMA is using hundreds of millions of it on Irma recovery. The money is helping hundreds of families in Lee and Collier Counties.

In the five months since Hurricane Irma hit SWFL, some families are still living in hotels or in damaged homes. Others are living in trailers.

Paul Allen walks through what’s left of his home on Santa Lucia Drive months after Irma ripped through the area.

“It was up into the window sills,” he says.

He works from home, and his shop was demolished.

“I own a business (that) started about six years ago. Don’t know what I’m going to be able to salvage from that mess,” Allen said.

Allen has been living in a $38,000 trailer provided by FEMA outside his home since Irma—complete with a bed, kitchen and air conditioning. He’s unable to stay elsewhere while also taking care of his nephew with Down Syndrome and five Rottweilers.

“I want to get back into my home. I don’t want to stay in this trailer,” he said.

Allen wants to rebuild the 80-year-old home that’s been in the family for decades—and claims FEMA gave him $17,000 to get started. But living in a flood zone along Billy’s Creek, he says it’s not enough.

“I would probably tear it down and start over. To fix it would cost more,” Allen says.

As he works through the lengthy process for loans and other means to get started, FEMA says 27 other households in Lee and Collier Counties are also doing the same.

FEMA checks on the people using trailers monthly to ensure they’re making progress—and want to get everyone back into a home by June, the beginning of the next hurricane season.

Allen hopes with their help, he can.

About 70 households in Collier and Lee Counties are still staying in hotels at FEMA’s expense while they work to get back into their homes.

Reporter:Britni McDonald