FEMA announces plan to replace locks on Katrina trailer homes

Published 16 August 2006

After discovering that the same key could open multiple trailers, FEMA offers to pay for new locks; some had only fifty-one possible combinations.

Maybe it is the planners who should be locked up. FEMA announced Monday that it will have to replace the locks on as many as 118,000 trailers mobilized for Hurricane Katrina after the agency discovered that the same key could open multiple locks. The three different types of locks used came from two different manufacturers and came with only fifty-one, one hundred, and 200 possible combinations or “changes” respectively. In the worst case scenario, one key could be used to unlock up to ten mobile homes in a park of 500 trailers. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA has issued about 150,000 travel trailers and mobile homes to evacuees in Louisiana and Mississippi. About 32,000 have been taken out of service. For now, at least, residents will have to ask their maintenance service provider to change the lock while FEMA decides how to solve the problem comprehensively.

-read more in this FEMA press release; read more about locks in this Slate Explainer