JOPLIN, Mo. — Some of the people left homeless by the Joplin tornado could be placed in rental homes nearly an hour's drive away, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday it will consider bringing in trailers, as it did for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, if enough homes are not available.
FEMA's first option for housing the thousands of displaced is to find them existing rental housing within a 55-mile radius of Joplin, because there isn't much housing left in the city of nearly 50,000 residents that was left badly damaged by the May 22 tornado, spokeswoman Susie Stonner said.
Nearly a third of the city — 8,000 structures — was damaged by the violent storm that killed more than 130 people. Twenty-nine people remained unaccounted for Monday.
Stonner said that despite the distance, putting people in permanent housing is preferable to trailers — especially in an area prone to tornadoes and severe weather.
"Wouldn't you prefer to be in a stable building over a mobile home?" she asked.
City Administrator Mark Rohr said the goal is to keep people as close to home as possible but that "based on the circumstances we'll have to respond accordingly."
The city has not said how many people were left homeless by the twister, but Rohr said 4,500 to 5,000 residents have registered with FEMA.