Feeling the FEMA Fumes

July 19, 2007

Reported By: Natalie Grise

As Mitch and Nancy Sonnier continue to work on their house, Nancy says there's just one word to describe the pace.

"It's slow. It's very slow," she says.

The couple lost their home during Rita, leaving them with one place to turn.

"i'm grateful for the trailer. We would have been living in a tent if it wasn't for FEMA giving us the trailer, she explains.

But the Sonniers' stint in a FEMA travel trailer came with some side effects.

My husband and I both have some health problems that we hadn't had prior to the storm, and when they first started I really chalked it up to the stress," she says, describing respiratory, sinus, and intestinal problems, along with skin rashes, insomnia, and headaches, all signs of formaldehyde poisoning.

With a warning posted on the trailer itself, Sonnier says she's not the only one who knows about the risk.

"They're very aware. I can tell that from the phone calls I'm getting from the FEMA people. They came out and checked the trailer, actually all she did was sniff and see if she could smell anything. When I asked her if they were going to bring a meter out to test it, she said FEMA doesn't do that," Sonnier recalls.

Meaning she and her husband will have one more thing to look forward to when they finish their house later this year.