AUBURN — White, plain-looking travel trailers are lined up outside the Auburn Mall, hopefully the next-to-last stop in a 400-mile journey from a government lot in Maryland.
"Ten trucks have been going back and forth," mall owner George Schott said Thursday. "They'll be done by Tuesday."
When complete, the trailer city will total 83 in all, many identical and largely untouched.
Schott bought the trailers from the Government Services Administration, the federal agency charged with selling the trailers bought for victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Schott hopes to sell the trailers for $6,950 to $9,950 apiece. Each comes with a small kitchen and common area, a master bedroom and a small bathroom.
"They're like new inside," Schott said. In most cases, the Gulf Stream trailers show little or no use. Appliances look untouched.
They do come with a warning: Don't live in them.
Many of the trailers used in Katrina relief in Louisiana have been found to carry high levels of formaldehyde, a potentially toxic chemical used in the making of carpets and upholstery.
Longtime residents of those trailers have blamed the Federal Emergency Management Agency for respiratory problems. Some have sued.
"I don't think they are the same trailers," Schott said. "Would the government sell something it knows to be harmful? No."
Schott believes they ought to be safe for anyone who aims to use them for vacations or other short-term situations. They're no different from any other trailer, he said.
The biggest difference may be price. The trailers were all made in 2006 or 2007 and would likely sell for about $15,000 in different circumstances, he said. Most of these will sell for $7,950.
When all of the trailers arrive next week, Schott and his staff plan to get a system together for selling them at the mall. A model trailer will be set up for people to examine. Some trailers will be moved to a private storage lot to make room for customers, Schott said.