Shortly after Hurricane Ike, San Leon resident Tommy Dixon praised the spirit of his hometown and its will to rebuild by saying "All we need now are FEMA trailers and mosquito repellent."
We don't know about the mosquito repellent, but they are getting the FEMA trailers. Two hundred of them are slated to be built on a former fish farm adjacent to the relatively tony Chase Park subdivision in adjoining Bacliff, a poverty-stricken town whose pre-Ike drug and gang woes we chronicled three months ago.
The trouble is, local residents are worried that the trailers house former denizens of the projects of Galveston and Port Arthur and not displaced locals.
"There's a fear that this will be like what happened to Houston after Katrina," area resident "Gator" Miller, the publisher of local newspaper The Seabreeze News, tells Hair Balls. "But this is five or six-hundred people, not 20,000."
Miller acknowledges that coming from virtually all-white and Hispanic Bacliff, the ire could be perceived as racist. He says that is not the case, that it's more about the property values of the residents of Chase Park.
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"If I lived there I would be pissed off too," he says. "But then I would also open a popsicle stand right outside the trailer park. As poor as these people are, them living here will stimulate the local economy, and it needs stimulating."
"The people in Bacliff are some of the nicest in the state of Texas," he says. "If the people who move in those trailers don't break the law, they will be welcome with open arms. If they fuck up, they won't be welcome at all."
Bacliff, he says, has always been full of transient people, no matter the cause of their transience. "We've welcomed raconteurs and roustabouts for decades," he says. "If they assimilate, they will do just fine."
- John Nova Lomax