Emergency homes destroyed by elements

NEW ORLEANS — Hundreds of modular homes bought by FEMA for victims of last year’s hurricanes were damaged beyond repair as they sat unused and, in many cases, unprotected from the elements, the agency said Tuesday.

The failure to protect the homes from the sun and rain while they were in storage was outlined in a report by the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency bought the homes as emergency housing for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But many sat unused for months at an Army depot in Texarkana, Texas, because of restrictions on where such homes could be erected, FEMA said. A June inventory had 1,790 homes at the site.

FEMA put the total damage to homes both salvageable and unsalvageable at $5 million. The homes cost an average of $36,000 each, according to FEMA. FEMA spokeswoman Debbie Wing said it appears at least 250 homes are not salvageable.

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