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‘Star’ trailers now ready for tornado survivors

  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • Oct. 20, 2021 - 6:21 AM

‘Star’ trailers now ready for tornado survivors

Sarah Fay Campbell / The Newnan Times-Herald

At the RV community are, from left: Councilwoman Cynthia Jenkins, Housing Authority CEO Sandra Strozier, and Director of Resident Services Alfrieda Thomas.

At long last, five “star” trailers will now provide a temporary home for local tornado survivors.

The RVs, outfitted for movie sets, now have a home at an RV community on property of the Newnan Housing Authority, and temporary residents should be moving in next week.

Six trailers were donated by a local film production company to help those impacted by the March 26 tornado. One has been loaned to a local homeowner and set up on the homeowner’s property while repairs are made to the house. The other five make up the RV community.

Newnan City Councilwoman Cynthia Jenkins has worked as an extra in several film productions, and said the idea of star trailers came to her a few days after the tornado. She was watching HGTV and, "It struck me – wait a minute! Filming! They have trailers," Jenkins said. She decided to see if she could make contact with a production company and see if anyone would let the city rent or borrow some of the trailers.

As it turned out, a local production company was retiring six trailers and donated them to the Newnan Housing Authority.

The trailers now belong to the Housing Authority and will be available for use when the tornado is long behind us. The trailers will be stored after the tornado survivors no longer use them, but can be brought back out if needed, subject to city ordinances. The trailers could be used in the future to house victims of fires or other disasters, or to possibly house volunteers for projects.

Creating a miniature campground from scratch takes time – and a good deal of money – as the housing authority soon found out.

"None of us thought it would take this long," said Alfrieda Thomas, director of resident services. The housing authority had the land, but it had to be graded and prepared, and water and sewer lines had to be run, as well as electrical lines. Gravel was brought in to provide a base for the trailers and an area for parking, and the fence had to be modified with a gate that was wide enough to accomodate the trailers.

The project was funded with a $25,000 grant from the Coweta Community Foundation, but there are still a few things that still need to be done.

With the current high demand on contractors, it took some time to get the plumbing and electrical work done, and there was some negotiating to get prices down.

"I don't think people realize how much it costs," said Housing Authority CEO Sandra Strozier.

The housing authority still needs another $8,800 or so to finish the project, including liability insurance, security cameras and constructing sturdier stairs to access the trailers. The folding metal steps that the trailers come with aren't exactly suitable for disabled residents.

The trailers are all one bedroom, so they are only big enough for single adults or couples. The housing authority worked with various local organizations that are helping house tornado survivors to pick the first residents of the trailers.

The residents will be required to sign a six-month lease agreement. The trailers are rent free and utilities will be free, with the goal that residents can save their money to put toward repairing their homes.

The city's current emergency ordinance allows RVs to be occupied for six months, and then the permit can be renewed, as long as the emergency ordinance is in effect.

For one-bedroom campers, the trailers are spacious, with recliners, large screen televisions and a surprisingly large bathroom and shower for an RV. After all, they are designed for movie stars. But the only signs that they are movie trailers are the shampoo sinks and large mirrors in the living room – once used for doing the actors' hair and makeup.

The support from the community has been great, Thomas said. "People are just so excited. Everybody is ready for it," she said. People have volunteered to provide needed items and help out.

Donations can be made to the Housing Authority RV Community. For more information, contact the Housing Authority of Newnan at 770-253-6461 or Thomas at .