FEMA trailers on airport property called “junk” by Charlotte County code officers

Reporter: Amy Galo
Published: Updated:

FEMA trailers sitting near the Punta Gorda Airport are raising concerns.

The Charlotte County Airport Authority is getting hit with code violations, saying the trailers need to go.

FEMA now has less than ten days left to remove these trailers, or else this case could wind up before a special magistrate.

Since Hurricane Ian, dozens of FEMA trailers have sat on land that FEMA leases from the airport.

“Because we own 2,000 acres with highway access, we are often asked by agency partners to provide land for staging vehicles before and after storms,” said Kaley Miller, director of marketing and communications at the airport.

Shaun Cullinan, a Charlotte County Planning and Zoning official, added, “We had worked with the state and federal agencies in order to get them there for disbursement to residents impacted by it.”

But after Idalia, Cullinan said things changed.

“It more became then they were starting to distribute it out to other places throughout the state, and it wasn’t necessarily for Charlotte County citizens,” he explained.

The county began receiving complaints from citizens, wondering why the trailers were still there.

Add to that the fact that these trailers aren’t exactly weather-proof.

“I certainly would not want to enter into a storm with those [trailers] potentially being debris,” said Patrick Fuller, Charlotte County Emergency Management Director, during a May 28 board meeting.

Cullinan told WINK the trailers are located too close to key buildings, calling it a “valid concern” as we head into another hurricane season.

“Those trailers becoming projectiles hitting critical facilities such as the Emergency Operation Center, the jail, the airport,” said Cullinan. “All of those things, fire and rescue, the EMS headquarters.”

So, county code compliance officers issued the Charlotte County Airport Authority with multiple code violations at the end of May, calling the trailers “junk” and giving 30 days to remove them from the property.

And the FEMA trailers are not the only trailers on the chopping block.

Trailers and campers owned by Regional Homes, also located on a separate airport property just down the road, have to go too.

“If they’re not removed within those 30 days, we will then schedule them for a hearing before the code enforcement magistrate,” said Cullinan.

While Regional Homes is set to vacate by the end of the month, FEMA’s lease won’t be up for another six months.

“We [Charlotte County Airport Authority] plan to honor that agreement on our end,” said Kaley Miller, director of marketing and communications. “However, FEMA has assured us they would move the trailers to a safer location if there was a hurricane forecasted here.”

So, WINK reached out to FEMA to ask what they’re planning to do and received the following statement:

FEMA has been partnering with the airport to stage temporary housing units that were used to help survivors following Hurricane Ian. Many of these units are now being sold to disaster survivors or through the General Services Administration auction. We are working with the airport to support any information requirements for the county.”

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