A Missouri trade group of recreational vehicle dealers is questioning the safety of former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers that were auctioned off in Ozark, Mo., last week, the Springfield News-Leader reported.
Sheri Wheelen, president of the Missouri RV Dealers Association, said the association doesn’t stand behind these vehicles and won’t provide service for the trailers.
“We do not consider them safe and they do not comply with the standards the federal government imposes on our manufacturers and yet the federal government is allowing these inferior trailers to be sold,” Wheelen said.
Rachel Racusen, a spokeswoman for FEMA, declined to comment, saying there isn’t sufficient evidence, such as vehicle identification numbers, to show the trailers were FEMA trailers.
Mike Easterly, the owner of Easterly Auction Co., has said the trailers are FEMA trailers.
A manager at one area business that services trailers said he is hoping to get extra business from people who bought FEMA trailers and are trying to fix them up.
Billy Arnold, assistant manager at Bison Campers in Ozark, said Bison has sold $400 to $500 in parts since Easterly Auction Co. held an auction for 183 trailers Oct. 23 for a company in Marietta, Ga. It was unclear Friday how many of the trailers sold.
“We’re hoping it will give us business all the way through the spring with parts and labor,” Arnold said.
Easterly did not return phone calls Friday.
Potentially harmful levels of chemicals such as formaldehyde have been found in trailers used by FEMA as housing after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Wheelen said FEMA trailers have also had problems with mold and propane leaks. Two Mississippi men were severely burned in a trailer fire in June near Laurel, Miss., after the FEMA trailer that one of them bought exploded with both of them inside, according to news accounts. Fire officials said a propane leak caused the fire.
Wheelen said she looked at the trailers that were for sale in Ozark and noticed many of them didn’t have holding tanks for sewage.
FEMA began disposing of its excess trailers in 2006. The U.S. General Services Administration, the federal government’s purchasing arm, sold off about 120,000 of the trailers, and they are being resold around the country.