‘It’s torture’: Frustrated Mexico Beach couple waits to move into their FEMA trailer

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MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — It’s been nearly four months since Hurricane Michael, and many locals are playing waiting games.

Whether they’re waiting on insurance, FEMA, or cable and internet, it’s been a long few months for many trying to recover.

While many residents seek to leave the devastation of Mexico Beach, the Sebastiaos won’t say goodbye to Mexico Beach.

“The home is gone, but our heart’s still here,” Bela Sebastiao said. 

Within the last few months, they’ve collected their insurance money and waited for FEMA’s help. They live in a camper without running water or electricity.

“We probably won’t know how to turn on lights when we finally get them, or a TV,” they said.

In late December, a FEMA trailer arrived. However, Hurricane Michael destroyed much of the city’s sewage infrastructure. The west side of town still doesn’t have working lift stations, and city leaders said they won’t for at least six more months.

FEMA doesn’t allow temporary residents to move into trailers that aren’t hooked up to all utilities.

“It‘s torture,” Bela Sebastiao said.

“We were joking that we should charge FEMA rent for having their trailer on our property since they won’t let us use it,” Jacque Sebastiao said.

“Occasionally, we have issues like this so we try to find a way to work around them,” FEMA representative Harry Skinner said.

FEMA contractors hooked up a temporary sewage tank, called a bladder, on Tuesday.

“That’s our solution until the sewage system can get back up and running,” he said. “FEMA will install bladders, and those bladders will be cleaned out on a regular basis by FEMA.” 

The couple is now just waiting for FEMA’s final inspection. 

“How long more until I have the keys?” the mother said. “That’s the million dollar question. How many more days?”

FEMA representatives told News 13 they should be able to move in within the next couple of days.

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