FEMA trailers for sale at Expo Center auction

Wade McIntyre
Mobile homes of the type issued by FEMA in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina are part of the inventory in a public auction to be held Saturday at Lama-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.

A public auction of over 400 FEMA bunk houses, travel trailers, mobile homes and park homes in varying states of condition will be held at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales Dec. 5.

Henderson Auction Company of Livingston Parish is to handle the event, and is paying Ascension Parish government $200 per day, or approximately $7,400, for rent through Dec. 19.

The sale items began arriving at the Expo Center on Nov. 13, according to parish spokesperson Scott Rabalais.

The auction company said buyers will have until Dec. 19 to remove their purchases after the Saturday auction.

Callers to Henderson were being told Thursday that buyers would have to test the trailers themselves to determine formaldehyde levels.

The trailers were said to have safe levels, but do not come with any guarantee that they are formaldehyde safe from the government.

The auction at Lamar-Dixon in wintry weather will make it more difficult for potential buyers to ascertain formaldehyde levels on site. The suspected carcinogen, which can trigger breathing problems, accumulates at greater levels in closed areas like trailers in hot summer months and humidity.

On the Henderson website, some of the trailers were designated Thursday as “unused.” A visual inspection of the site Thursday morning revealed trailers in varying conditions, including some that appeared in need of new roofing.

According to Rabalais, the parish is treating the auction like any other public event at the Expo Center - the parish is hosting the event, not selling anything, he said.

Following a public outcry against FEMA for issuing trailers that residents claimed were contaminated with fumes, the Centers for Disease Control tested 519 mobile dwellings issued in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. In early 2008, the agency determined  that formaldehyde levels in those trailers were beyond acceptable levels.

Trailer auction sign was posted at the gates of Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.