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New use for slightly-used FEMA home: Dunn Co. sheriff wants trailers for deputies

A lack of housing has the Dunn County Sheriff's Department considering purchasing FEMA trailers, like these pictured in Dickinson on Wednesday, to house future deputies.

MANNING -- Due to a severe lack of housing, the Dunn County Sheriff's Department is tempted to put deputies into homes formerly used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Dunn County Sheriff Don Rockvoy has twice as many deputies now than he did when he arrived in 2009. Due to an ongoing oil boom, Rockvoy said the need for more housing is crucial, and FEMA homes might be the Hail Mary pass he has been waiting for.

"There's just no more place for (the deputies) to go," Rockvoy said after Wednesday's Dunn County Commission Meeting in Manning.

"Since those trailers are no longer in use by FEMA," he added that many are now being utilized in the Oil Patch.

Commissioner Glenn Eckelberg has seen the homes, and agrees they might be a good idea.

"They're not that bad," Eckelberg said during Wednesday's meeting.

Rockvoy said there are eight deputies working in Dunn County. While it is unclear how many more will be needed in future months, he is trying to plan ahead because the window of opportunity for purchasing FEMA trailers closes quickly.

Centennial Homes, a business located off I-94 in east Dickinson, sells the homes.

"(Centennial) has sold many of them," Rockvoy said. "Every time they get one in, it's gone immediately."

Russ Pachinger, manager at Centennial Homes, said it is obvious why the homes do not stay on the shelves.

"They are affordable," Pachinger said. "Once they're gone, that's it."

At approximately $35,000 per home, Pachinger added that many people find FEMA trailers to be a thrifty substitute to expensive homes in surrounding counties.

"With the rents and all that where they're at in town now, it's a good alternative for some people," he said. "A lot of (FEMA trailers) are going out to Dunn County."

Because the units are used, Centennial Homes replaces carpeting, cleans cabinets, and, if the buyer wishes, furnishes living space.

"A lot of these FEMAs have hardly been lived in to begin with," he said. "So, they're like darn near brand new."

Similar to a car history report, Centennial Homes keeps track of where and when each FEMA trailer was used. So far, the homes have been purchased by a mix of area buyers, most of which live near Killdeer, Richardton and Watford City.

"They're going all over," Pachinger said. "We've sold quite a few of these."

Rockvoy expects oil activity will continue to increase in Dunn County, and he wants to be prepared. With the possibility of more people moving to the area, FEMA trailers could ease the housing crunch.

"With the expanse and more traffic and every new rig that comes into the counties, it's that much more tires on the road," Rockvoy said. "I just want to try and stay ahead of the game, as far as providing law enforcement services to Dunn County."