BETTY ANN BOWSER: After five weeks of sleeping on the floor of a shelter, it was moving day for Jacquelyn Williams and her family -- into a trailer with a kitchen and a bed, and finally some privacy.
JACQUELYN WILLIAMS: We have space now that we can put our own private clothes.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Williams was among dozens of hurricane victims who began moving into the Groom Road Trailer Park today in Baker, Louisiana, about 100 miles north of their homes in New Orleans. It's row after row of more than 500 RV's placed cheek to jowl in a large dusty field.
SPOKESMAN: All right. Thank you, ma'am.
JACQUELYN WILLIAMS: You're welcome.
MAN: Just checking it.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: But for people like Williams, this new village felt like home.
JACQUELYN WILLIAMS: It means a whole lot to me, because now I have privacy. And I think it's going to be a very, very good experience after all that I've gone through, yes, yes.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: This is the just the first of many trailer cities that FEMA intends to open in the next few weeks to accommodate the thousands of people still living in shelters and hundreds of thousands of people staying in hotels.
It is a sensitive subject for FEMA, because the agency has been criticized for a similar site set up over a year ago in Florida. It has been plagued with crime and drugs. And local officials have suggested that such trailer villages are inappropriate solutions for long-term housing needs.
FEMA's Ron Sherman is in charge of temporary housing in Louisiana.
RON SHERMAN, FEMA: I agree with all of the criticism. I've been to that site. I've seen what it looks like. That's why we took so much longer in designing the Groom Road site, as an example, because it will have green space inside of it; there will be areas where a store could set up, as an example, where basketball courts could be put in.
And it's also why we're making sure that even things like trash removal, transportation and security are part of our package now that they weren't a year ago.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Baker Mayor Harold Rideau is happy the trailer site has opened, and says his city will take precautions to make sure they don't have the same problems that Florida had.
MAYOR HAROLD RIDEAU, Baker, Louisiana: I think we are being proactive; we're requiring that -- we're setting guidelines" No firearms will be allowed at the trailer facility -- no drugs.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: How are you going to enforce that?
MAYOR HAROLD RIDEAU: Well, we find them; we're going to throw them out. They're going to have to leave. That's part of their contract, that they won't take any firearms into the facility --
BETTY ANN BOWSER: When they agree to take the trailer.
MAYOR HAROLD RIDEAU: -- when they agree to take the trailer. And we're also going to be doing background checks on people, to make sure we don't have any sexual predators out there.
SPOKESMAN: This is the American Red Cross. We have hot meals, cold drinks --
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Ninety miles east of Baker, homeowners who were slammed by Katrina complain FEMA still hasn't responded to their needs for temporary housing.
Slidell is a small city of 30,000 that lost one out of three houses in the storm; 10,000 people are now virtually homeless.
MAN: Hi, how you doing today?
BETTY ANN BOWSER: People like 75-year-old Thomas Harrison and his 74-year-old wife, Ruth -- the former Folger's Coffee Company employee and retired schoolteacher spend their days cleaning out their house, and their nights 85 miles away sleeping in a family friend's bedroom.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: So you go back and forth every day?
RUTH HARRISON: We go back and forth every day. We need a trailer. Firstly, we're too old to travel that highway like that every day. The traffic is horrendous.
THOMAS HARRISON: And we live here. And it's hectic on the highway.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Mrs. Harrison called FEMA weeks ago, and asked for a trailer to be put in their yard. As homeowners, now with drinkable water, electricity and a sewer hook up, they're eligible for the federal temporary home assistance program. But so far they haven't heard back from FEMA.
Several miles away, homeowners Tookie and Marlene Brouillette have the same problem. FEMA says they qualify for a trailer, but so far none has arrived.
MARLENE BROUILLETTE: We go from nephews to nieces to whoever let us sleep.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: So where are you going tonight?
MARLENE BROUILLETTE: Back to my nephew's.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: And, Tookie, what about tomorrow night?
TOOKIE BROUILLETTE: We don't really know. If it gets too bad in some places, we'll just put the tent up on the back of my flatbed wrecker and spend the night on the truck right here in the driveway.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: And have you done that before?
TOOKIE BROUILETTE: Yes, ma'am.
MARLENE BROUILLETTE: Yes.
MAYOR BEN MORRIS, Slidell, Louisiana: She's getting to the almost overwhelmed --
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Slidell Mayor Ben Morris is furious with FEMA. He says the first time a FEMA housing person got in touch with him was two days ago.
MAYOR BEN MORRIS: The federal response has been awfully inadequate. I don't think their policies and procedures -- I think they are outdated, and I think they have nothing to do with an emergency. They take what they use on beautiful sunshiny days and apply those same policies and procedures into a disaster area.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: FEMA officials say today's opening in Baker shows they've turned the corner.
RON SHERMAN: Our goal over the next 14 days is to put in another twenty-eight to three thousand trailers and move households into those. And we intend to ramp that up. We're finally getting a handle on that.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: But they caution trailers alone will not solve the housing problem. In some cases, they say, the best course of action is to move out of state until housing becomes available again.