EXCLUSIVE: FEMA Trailer Driver Speaks

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Bad Decisions, Hurricane Katrina, Money

A couple weeks ago I found an interesting comment in our FEMA Trailers post. Apparently, Jimmy Hall says he drove some of the FEMA trailers to Arkansas and Florida. Since then, I’ve emailed back and forth with him and he’s provided us with photos that only an driver could have taken. Some of them are presented here.

Forgive me Jimmy, but I’m going to do a little editorial work on your comment and break it into paragraphs.

(NOTE: The photo you see above was sent in by Donklephant reader Douglas McDowall. Thanks again Douglas!)

I know a little about this issue as I was one of the drivers that delivered some of the houses that are in Hope, Arkansas. I would like to comment on some of the above statements. Returning the trailers to the manufactures would cost tax payers more than just keeping them down there. FEMA paid up to eight dollars (and in some places in Kentucky they paid for the truck fuel) a mile to move these trailers when regular freight on one of these trailers is around two dollars a mile.

What happened is, people such as Jackie Williams from Ga created his own company, and then contacted FEMA for a contract to supply X amount of houses for the victims. FEMA then paid these individuals, or their companies, large amounts of money to supply the houses and deliver them to the FEMA holding areas. The individuals then contacted the manufactures and contracted to buy thousands of homes. By the time it got to the driver we received around five dollars a mile.

When this happened everyone wanted in on the money making deal. Drivers that owned their own trucks rushed to get mirror bars and house hitches welded on their trucks so they could start pulling trailers. By the way these are the same guys that usually cussed us for being on the interstate when they came up behind us. Fly-by-night house haulers it what I usually called them.

The government waived many laws regarding transporting of manufactured houses for the hurricane victims. We could pull them at night, no permits required, no pilot cars required, there were drivers out there that had no idea on how to safely pull one of these things now pulling them 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, with no requirement to keep up with our log books.

Don’t get me wrong, I was in line like the rest of them, but I have 15 years behind the wheel with 9 years experience pulling trailers. Arkansas must have seen a golden opportunity here because Little Rock decided to put a stop to any night movement, issue tickets for log books, all equipment must be exact. They even put a DOT (department of transportation) officer on the lot inside the gates in Hope, Arkansas. He gave more tickets out to drivers over little things than the whole state gave out in speeding tickets.

Now as for the trailers setting, I delivered a couple of trailers, to Tallahassee Fl. at the old Blue Angles AFB. They stated that they have houses that were delivered last year for the hurricanes that hit in 2004 still sitting around, and what is sick they stated they still haven’t received all of them. So Hope is not the only place these houses are stored. Hope is the only place that is sinking and destroying them. In Selma Alabama, not only do they have an abundance of houses they have travel trailers stacked in rows that go on forever. FEMA bought 150 brand new Ford F350 Dually pick-up trucks to move these around on the lot. A little much don’t ya think? Brand new Gators, four-wheelers, you would not believe the things I have seen.

Now to the issue of trailers going bad, no they do not just go bad they have to be damaged first. See Fly-by-night house haulers above. Also FEMA decided they wanted to store as many houses as they could (more houses more money I guess) so they had us park them as close as we could get them to one another, sometimes about 6 to 8 inches apart. This is fine if they are on stable ground. What’s happening now is when you mix the rain in with the soybean field the ground is soft so the houses are now falling into one another. Another thing, not only are these houses filled with new couches, refrigerators, stoves, mattresses, and bed frames in every home they also have microwaves, kitchen tables, dressers, nightstands and the heat and air units along with all the duct work to install the units. This is something FEMA demanded and would not accept any trailer with out them. I have many pictures of the Hope, Arkansas confusion if anyone would like to see them. The government wasting our money? The public doesn’t know the half of it!

Sorry this was so long, I just needed to vent!

Wow, thanks for that Jim. It lends me some needed perspective on this issue!

An Army of Davids indeed.

FEMA is now offering to sell these trailers to the people who were living in them…

Apparently, the public wants FEMA to be out from under the Department of Homeland Security.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 9th, 2006 and is filed under Bad Decisions, Hurricane Katrina, Money. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

51 Responses to “EXCLUSIVE: FEMA Trailer Driver Speaks”

  1. michael reynolds Says:

    Dude. Nice work.

  2. Justin Gardner Says:

    Much appreciated, but we should all thank the blogosphere. That’s why Jimmy was able to find this site and get his story out there.

  3. Katrina Coverage Says:

    Pictures of FEMA’s wasted trailers

    There are some pictures inside a lot in Hope Arkansas where unused FEMA trailers are stored here. Row upon row upon row. Now, of course, I have no way to verify the report, and it comes second-hand. However, a trucker who delivered some of them claims…

  4. ascap_scab Says:

    Here’s a trackback for you.


  5. Jim Says:

    Justin/Jimmy, Thanks for all the info and photos. Glad all my hard earned tax dollars and money borrowed from future generations is going to such wonderful projects!! Hopefully one of the major networks or something like 60 mins or dateline will pick up on this. I’m going to send some friends this link, hope you don’t mind. Its just such a great example of the ineptitude of the current administration.

  6. Mike The Actuary’s Musings » 2006 » March » 10 Says:

    [...] [...]

  7. ford4x4 Says:

    OH! Now I understand why we should roll back the tax breaks!

    Great info, though.

    Don’t blame the administration, blame the government in general,
    they are all equally f***ed up!

  8. rouxdsla Says:

    FEMA is a complete joke. It needs to be shut down now. Everyday I could watch as 100′s of travel trailers are sent to New Orleans and this is 6 months after Katrina. STOP SENDING TRAILERS!

    I was in and around NOLA this weekend there are huge parts of it that will not come back. The 9th ward and New Orleans East are not coming back.

    There is no place to put all of these trailers and the surrounding parishes do not want the evacuees in their communities.

  9. Bonnie G. Says:

    Jim Hall, do you have any Abu Ghraib pictures? You seem to be worried about the ineptness of our federal government. I figured you are a war and troop basher too.

  10. Justin Gardner Says:

    Jim Hall, do you have any Abu Ghraib pictures? You seem to be worried about the ineptness of our federal government. I figured you are a war and troop basher too.

    Uhh, Bonnie…why are you posting here? Personal attacks are grounds for getting banned on this site. So please, be respectful.

  11. Bonnie G. Says:

    Justin, you are correct. My apologies to the group.

  12. freda Richards/john Says:

    We have retired (both my husband and I and are interested in transporting trailers with one of the company owned trucks. We have retirement are experienced in driving larger vehicles. We want to work as a team. This is for anyone -contact us. Just moved in the Knoxville tenn. area.
    God Bless

  13. freda richards Says:

    Looking constantly for transportation job that would b e enjoyable as a team.


    [...] For Godsakes, this government of ours cannot even get hundreds upon hundreds of trailers rusting in a flood-plain in Hope, AR, to those hurricane victims dispossessd of homes and hope in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast; and, yet, this same government tells us that they can monitor and substantively assess 12 to 20 million illegal aliens through a six-year program of doing all that will be required to achieve citizenship, while they remain here as “temporary” Guest Workers. And they expect us to buy that, just as they did in the late 80s when 4 million illegals were granted amnesty and American citizens were told that their absolution was a one-time deal and that the borders would forever more be secured. And now — all these years and months since 9/11 — here we go again. We still have porous borders, we still have Sanctuary Cities, we still have Anchor Babies, we now have as many as four times the number of illegals that we had in 1986, and it’s just more of the same from our government and its elected officials. The BIG LIE has had a long life and persists, even to this day. Don’t BUY into it. [...]

  15. Justin Gardner Says:

    Justin, you are correct. My apologies to the group.

    Thanks Bonnie.

  16. Paula McN Says:

    I would like to know if fema is still pulling campers south??
    I would like to know what it pay’s & how long well it last.???
    I have experance pulling 30ft.,campers 35ft. horse trailers & I also drove a semi for a year but no cdl’s.
    I am sure someone out there has to know..
    thanks Paula

  17. Stephen Haise Says:

    Holy Henious!…are these 10,000 trailers still over the hill from
    Hope, Arkansas?…i noted that some of the trailers appear to be identical to the giant trailer city our troops are living in outside of Fallujah and Bagdad!…KBR sends from Hobby field…not to be confused with the giant metal plates that some dumbass is attempting to align atop the US-Mexican border (even though we can drill a tunnel several miles deep curtousy Dresser-Atlas and Rocketdyne) which of course are also MIL SPEC Surplus material…this is too amazing to be true!…

  18. Donklephant » Blog Archive » FEMA Trailers Still In Arkansas Says:

    [...] UPDATE: For more information, read this post about FEMA trailers from a driver who was inside the trailer park in Arkansas. We even have pictures from inside the park itself. [...]

  19. pbrim Says:

    I live in Slidell Louisiana and I am very angry about all of this. My house flooded and I lost everything as well as my daughter and my son in their respective homes. I ended up in Indiana (where people were extremely helpful to alot of Katrina victims) and I had to travel back and forth from Indiana to Slidell to get my house repaired. As I traveled I saw many sites where FEMA trailors were just parked in mass quantities while there are people living in cars and sheds just waiting and hoping for assistance from someone. The problem is that the left hand does not know what the right is doing with this whole process. Many Louisiana residents are coming back in Slidell but New Orleans residents that want to come back still have to look ahead at another hurricane season approaching and at a levee system that is not fixed. People have gone to other locations trying to get their lives back on track somehow and eight months later we are still doing that. I have moved back to Louisiana but question that decision every day since. Our government is sending troops and supplies overseas in mass quantity at great expense to our economy but cannot assist our own people that need so much help. They should be ashamed of the way they have handled this whole situation.

  20. Steve W. Says:


    On a daily basis I see about 100 – 150 flatbed train cars heading south through Hamilton, Ohio. Each car has 2 very cheaply made travel trailers straped to it. This line comes out of Chicago, IL so I can safely say these trains are from the Elkhart, IN area and heading for the New Orleans area.

    A few days after Katrina hit I volunteered to help take trailers to Baton Rouge. On September 9th I loaded up to deliver the first of two travel trailers to the Baton Rouge FEMA lot from a well known RV dealer self proclaiming to be “The Midwest’s Largest” in Richmond IN. This dealer got a $14 million dollar contract with FEMA at the start. I found out the day I left with the first trailer that I would be getting paid $1200 per round trip. The drive from Hamilton, Ohio is a little over 900 miles to the drop lot in Baton Rouge. I spent $487 for fuel on the first trip and $423 for fuel on the second trip. Slept in the truck at the rest areas.

    It pains me to see that these folks that have lost everything still have nothing due to government red tape.
    Would I do it again? Yes, But it would be for the money.
    Did I make a profit delivering these two trailers? NO. After learning that I would be getting paid I contacted my local Berean store and bought 400 Bible’s and on the second trip I used a key that will fit most storage compartments on a travel trailer and placed a Bible in every trailer I saw until all 400 were gone.

  21. Donklephant » Blog Archive » More Speak About FEMA Trailer Woes Says:

    [...] From the comments section of our “FEMA Trailer Driver Speaks” post. [...]

  22. Delton Says:

    I have a 2003 turbocharged 6.0 dually, and yrs. of experience in pulling. Someone tell me who to get in touch with to pull FEMA trailers!!?? 256-627-0842

  23. Donklephant » Blog Archive » FEMA, Please Don’t Forget Katrina Victims Says:

    [...] And last we have “pbrim”, who speaks about a problem with those FEMA trailers once again: A woman from FEMA called me several days ago and made an appointment to recertify me for my FEMA trailer. I asked her how long I would be allowed to live in the trailer and she told me until my house was able to be lived in. I was told that I would be allowed to live in the trailer for 18 months or until my house was finished. FEMA is not telling people that the 18 months starts on the date the Hurricane Katrina struck land and not 18 months from your recieving the trailer. Some people have not even gotten a trailer yet or have just revieved one and little do they know that on February 28,2007 they will be out on the street. All of thoses trailers are still parked in lots on the side of the highway and another hurricane season is approaching. What is going to happen to the people that still have nothing after 9 months of cleanup. I went to Chalmette yesterday for the first time since Katrina. There are still houses blocking streets and everything is about the same as it was 8 months ago. The horrible stench of muck and everything wet is still in the air. My heart goes out to these residents. I thought I had it bad until I saw all of this with my own eyes. The military assistance that was here in Louisiana after the storm has been gone for quite awhile. People that came dowm here as public servants have all gone home, back to their own lives. When do we get a chance to have our lives back???Katrina took it all away and there is no help at all from the state or federal officials. WE HAVE ALL BEEN FORGOTTEN HERE!!!!!!!! [...]

  24. douglas comeaux Says:

    interested in delivering trailors for fema to victims of hurricanes katrina and rita. contact:doug comeaux at 225-248-5753 or 225-248-5999. thanks., 8/1/2006 or email: http://[email protected]

  25. Owen Sully Says:

    Where would a person buy one of these surplus trailers ?

  26. Sabine Pabst Says:

    At this point FEMA should sell these mobile homes to anyone interestet.
    Whoever was in charge in making these “Deals” should be held accountible. After all, they were spending our money “The Peoples” money.

  27. Cristopher Says:

    Anybody know where I can find more images of these trailers from the air? I remember seeing a thing on TV where a helicopter flew around for a while. I’d love to get my hands on more images.


  28. D. W. Says:

    I am from Buras, Lousiana where Katrina first came ashore we were wiped out. We returned to the area to work and be near our family who also lost most everything. My wife and I were in an oilfield supplied bunkhouse shelter for 2 months and after that closed we had to pay 1000.00 a month rent for a 1 room shed in someone’s backyard until finally on March 8, 2006 we moved into a FEMA camper trailer in a large FEMA trailer park. We have now lived in an 8X30 foot camper for 7 months, it is just the two of us and that it is hard. (Imagine people with children!!!) It is too much to comprehend that these trailers are there and we are all still here. What a crying, dirty shame!

  29. Patti Says:

    My question is Can Anyone Buy a Fema Trailer? If so where, and how much we are interested. Please email me SOON.

    Thanks, Patti

  30. SCOTT Says:


  31. Gerald Crosby Says:

    Has anyone heard wether or not Horizon Transport in Wakarusa,IN has been investigated for fema camper fraud, I was a driver of many of their fema campers and I hauled campers all over this country that were labeled fema camper on the bill of laden but yet they really were not fema campers……..far from it…it seems fema paid good money to dealers for their inventory, and paid to move those campers down the road to where they were needed, and then fema without knowing paid to move replacements of dealer inventories from the factories in Indiana to the dealer lots where fema name was removed from such campers and then sold to the public……also can you believe the dealer invoice was more than triple the factory invoice that I carried with those campers. Horizon transport has a dispatcher named Dan who told me during a smoke break out behind the office all about the doulble dipping scheme Marion Shrock cooked up to make a financial killing last year after katrina….Marion learned he could do this after the previous hurricane season where he noticed fema did not pay any attention to this…..I was just curious if anyone has any knowledge of horizon being investigated of this….I reported it to many government sources while it was happening but no one ever contacted me to testify…amongst those sources were senators, attorney general gonzales, and governor jeb bush who just had his associate call and tell me there was nothing they could do about this.

  32. Merlin Harker Says:

    The sad thing about all this is that FEMA was known as a model gov’t. agency during the Clinton years. Bushco. turned in into a patronage perq for political hacks, just like the CPA in IRAQ. Many are now saying New Orleans will never recover.

    So far, Bush’s stupidity and incompetence have managed to destroy one country, one major American city, and one country’s reputation. He really out to be impeached, if only as a precaution before he can wreck anything else.

  33. Chuck Farley Says:

    Merlin, you’re a crackhead.

  34. martha gamble Says:

    We would like to buy one of these trailers, ours is still falling apart from the hurricanines that passed this area in 2004. We have spent over 20 thousand, new roof, ect. Our floors are still caving in, the walls are caving in, our electricity does not work as it does before.

  35. Lisa Says:

    can the public buy these trailers. I drove through Louisiana and saw a field of houndreds of trailers. Who owns them? how can I find out. i would not not mind buying a few.

  36. Rachael Says:

    We just returned from Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulfcoast. I think that people should see for themselves the devastation. Recovery isn’t happening fast enough. I thought we’d never reach a point where we didn’t see the skeleton of someone’s house or business and clusters of white trailers. Americans simply did not get the full picture of Katrina’s wrath from what was reported in the media. If the folks in New Orleans and Mssissippi feel forgotten, I wouldn’t blame them. We don’t hear much about Katrina anymore. Yet many places look as though Katrina happened just yesterday.

  37. jamey raines Says:

    wow interesting.. they are selling these homes to anyone i also have info on who is selling them..a company from texas is taking bids. contact me at [email protected]

  38. JAMEY RAINES Says:

    also im with you jimmy i also have some good photos and (tickets )from hope ar. also the state of mississippi gave us more tickets than arkansas..when i called mi state about tickets told them i was contracted through fema just trying to help they laughed at me and said your not helping noone…………

  39. Tex Says:

    Did FEMA buy many Durham travle trialers

  40. Kay tipps Says:

    How can I find out about buying one of these trailers from Hope Ark.? And how much?

  41. Kay tipps Says:

    Where can I buy a fema trailer?

  42. sixtoesgirl Says:

    The article said that FEMA had to donate them to federal, state or local governments before putting them up for sale. I work for a state government and would like to know how to get some of these trailers for use as health care facilities.

  43. JackieH Says:

    Where to but Fema campers at in Fla?

  44. JackieH Says:

    Were to buy camper trailers in Fla.

  45. Donklephant » Blog Archive » FEMA Trailers For Sale Says:

    [...] More Speak About FEMA Trailer Woes. FEMA Trailer Driver Speaks. FEMA Trailers Still In Arkansas. ———– [...]

  46. John Says:

    I still don’t get why folks living in these trailers don’t move to some other part of the country, get jobs and start over. I’ve very sorry you lost your home however Americans lose homes every day to other things like foreclosure and aren’t given trailers to live in. They forclose, rent and start over.

  47. Somewhere in Arkansas Says:

    I have seen these FEMA trailers in Hope. There are acres and acres of nothing but….almost as far as the eye can see. I did a little research because I was thinking about purchasing one for my daughter to stay in while in college. Many of these trailers have levels of formaldehyde, some levels toxic. There is no way I would purchase one and put my child in it.

  48. jim Says:

    I too was hauling trailers for Horizon transport that were labeled fema campers but they were not. While taking a shower one night in the driver breakroom at horizon, the night guard said that while working at a private party at marion shrocks house he heard marion bragging about ripping off the government through fema contracts by back charging fema to move new units to dealers during and after the disaster, he said fema had no way of knowing and paid for all unit transort from his terminal no matter its destination and horizon transport pocketed the dealer transport fee that also were paid by dealers to transport their new inventory…….big time doulble dipping, the guard heard him say he took them for $60 million.

  49. BRAD Says:

    Yes, I am interested in hauing fema trailers, can you help me with a contact name and number, thank you

  50. MISTY Says:

    We are also interested in hauling trailers, if anyone has any information it would be helpful ! We are in Texas willing to haul anywhere! 903-330-3329

  51. Emily Harsh Says:

    All you so called experts really blow me away. You haven’t clue about what goes on on the inside, it’s just more whiney opinions.

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