By Russ and Tiña De Maris
With so much information flooding the web, we’ve tried to weed out a few of the highlights as they relate to the RVing community.
The directory company, RoverPass, is offering a way for evacuees to find low-cost, and in some cases, free RV spots in commercial campgrounds. The outfit says as many as 20 parks have offers to help others. Normally a service fee is charged when booking, so instead of booking through the site, they offer direct lines to the providing campgrounds, and all that’s required to get the discount is to tell the park operator you’re an evacuee.
And for evacuees who can make it as far as West Virginia, Kentucky, or Tennessee, over a dozen National Forests are giving free campsites to those displaced. Included are Daniel Boone National Forest, Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Cherokee National Forest, and George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, which span the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and cross into parts of West Virginia and Kentucky. Forest Service officials say call ahead to see what’s available, and check in with campground hosts on arrival.
While the RV industry may have thought that they’d have an “in” providing emergency housing units through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (stocks for some RV manufacturers actually shot up at the end of August), at this point it looks like the manufactured housing industry will get the business. Already FEMA has told them they’ll need a minimum of 4,500 homes for those affected by Harvey. The industry has already been building emergency homes, to the tune of more than 4,000 in the last year-and-a-half.
With the bitter taste of Hurricane Katrina substandard, chemical-laced RV housing, FEMA says it’s looking for something far more substantial. “Substantial” comes with a price tag, the agency figuring on $100,000 per unit, once all costs including installation and eventual removal are taken into account. On the other hand, it may be difficult for some families to have a FEMA “house” parked in their front yard while they rebuild their damaged homes.
Industry takes a hit
While thousands of individuals have been hard hit by Harvey, businesses too, have suffered. To help their fellow RV park owners, the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) has set up a funding source to help member campground owners who’ve been harmed by the hurricane to get some help. The organization reports it has already received some donations from members in the $1,000 range, but isn’t ready to disclose just how much has come in.
While it’s still early to see how much damage has hit RV dealers, some sketchy reports are on the radar. Two RV dealerships reported from Rockport, Texas. Ron Hoover RV & Marine reported “minor damage,” but in the next breath said all of the inventory would require some amount of repair work due to water and blowing debris damage. In the same town, and just down the road, Camper Clinic lost all of the units from their 10-acre lot — the storm completely took them away. Twenty miles up the road in Corpus Christi, other RV dealers reported skipping away from the storm with barely a scratch.