BRAWLEY — It’s been more than five months since Laurie Garcia has been able to sleep at home. She and her family were displaced from their mobile home here after a series of earthquakes Aug. 26 deemed their home of nearly 30 years uninhabitable.
Since then, the family of six has been staying at the nearby Brawley Inn. She has also been eating a lot of fast food, since the hotel’s refrigerator doesn’t accommodate the amount of groceries the family typically needs.
“I’m in need of a nice home-cooked meal right now,” Garcia said.
Yet, Garcia was in high spirits Tuesday afternoon, since she is expecting to be able to move back to the Robert Noriega Mobile Home Park this week.
“Hopefully by Thursday we’ll be home,” said Garcia, who will be moving into a brand new unit.
Twenty-three families comprised of 88 individuals were displaced from the mobile home park by the earthquake swarms, county officials said.
Although there is much unpacking to do, Claudia Centeno is glad to be back in her home as well. As if to mark the momentous occasion, the persistent back pain that had hobbled her since being displaced also disappeared the day she was allowed to move back.
“It was from the stress,” she said, referring to the pain.
Centeno was also in high spirits as she profusely thanked the assembled multitude of state and local officials who attended the project completion ceremony at the mobile home park Tuesday.
Twenty-two federal, state, local and regional agencies were involved in the effort, officials said. Ten mobile homes were replaced, while four were rehabilitated.
Displaced families were also given vouchers for hotel and food expenses for 90 days that totaled $183,620, said county Community and Economic Development manager Esperanza Colio. When including construction and related expenses, the project totaled more than $836,436.
Part of the funding came from leftover monies from a $1.5 million community development block grant the county was awarded to implement a public services program in 2010.
Following the earthquake, the county had gotten state approval to utilize the CDBG program for hotel costs and food vouchers, Colio said.
In the absence of these previously approved funds, the county could have faced a wait of 60-90 days just to get approval for emergency earthquake funds, she said.
The relative speed at which the funds became available was an impressive feat, said Dana Murphy, vice chairman of the Imperial Valley Housing Authority.
“It sheds new light on government work,” he said.
Staff Writer, Copy Editor Julio Morales can be reached at 760-337-3415 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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