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Local News

December 1, 2011

Some still waiting for FEMA shelters

At age 26 and with three young children of her own, moving back into her mother's home was not on Alanna Ballard's agenda.

Then, on Aug. 28, came Hurricane Irene, causing historic flood damage to many areas of upstate New York. This includes the village of Prattsville in Greene County, where Ballard waits tables at Beth's Cafe. Aunt Beth Ballard runs the eatery.

The flooding wiped out the first floor of Alanna Ballard's home on Main Street in Prattsville, and she and her children had to relocate. At first, she said Wednesday, she looked for an apartment but found no landlords willing to take her in with her children unless she signed a one-year lease.

So, she said, she reluctantly moved in with her mother, Tanessa Dunn, hoping she'd soon qualify for a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer and have it placed on her property while volunteers restored her house.

But more than three months after the flood, no trailers have been set up yet in Prattsville, and only seven FEMA housing units have been occupied by flood victims in the village of Schoharie, another community devastated by flooding, according to both local officials and FEMA representatives.

"I thought they could put one right next to my house," Alanna Ballard said. "Someone from FEMA came over and put traffic cones in my driveway. I had to remove all the debris between my house and my neighbor's house. I got permission from my neighbor to chop down 100-year-old lilac trees. I thought they were getting ready to bring the trailer in. Then a lady from FEMA who comes in the diner said they couldn't put the trailer next to my house. But nobody else ever got back to me."

Now, she and her children are residing in the living room of her mother's four-room house.

"She literally had to take her couch out of the room," Alanna Ballard said. "Me and the kids are sleeping on an air mattress in the living room. It's a little claustrophobic."

Looking for shelter

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