Bastrop fire victim buys unlivable mobile home


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Posted on August 8, 2012 at 8:43 AM

PAIGE, Texas -- An 77-year-old Bastrop fire victim may have been victimized again, this time by someone selling her a mobile home that she and those helping her deem unlivable.

Long before last year's Labor Day fires, the widow had battled cancer and survived two strokes. Now it seems her toughest battle ahead may be to try to retrieve the money she paid for the mobile home.

A mobile home in Paige in Bastrop County sits where Rosa Moreno's permanent home had stood since 1982. Moreno's home was among the 1,600 that were lost due to last year's Labor Day Fires.  She did not have insurance. After the fire, KVUE News is told she lived temporarily with friends who  recommended a man who had a mobile home for sale. 

"The person went and picked her up to just go see the outside of the mobile home," said Mari Carrion, an office manager for the non-profit All About Families. "He would not let her see the inside. He said, 'There's no stairs to let you go see.'"

Because her friends vouched for the man, Moreno bought the mobile home for $6,500 without stepping foot inside.

"But there was a reason why he didn't let her in," said Carrion.

Those reasons include ceilings caving in due to apparent water damage, corrosion around leaking windows and a variety of other problems. Just how unlivable is the mobile home? There's an eight-inch hole in one of the bedroom floors exposing it to the outside.

Two strokes have made it difficult for Moreno to talk. Still, she's able to express her feelings over the deplorable conditions.

"I was disappointed," she said.

After looking at the unlivable mobile home again, Moreno could not contain that disappointment and broke down in tears.

"It is terrible for a person to take advantage of another human being," said Carrion. "The situation being she was in a national disaster, her age, having two strokes and needing a place to live.  Somebody took advantage of that. I really wanted to get this (story) out so people could really know what kind of predators are out there."

All About Families and the Bastrop Housing Authority have helped Moreno find a place to live.

KVUE called the man who sold Moreno the mobile home to get his side of the story and reached his voicemail. He has yet to return KVUE's calls.

KVUE News has been told the Texas Department of Adult Services has sent the man a certified letter and has not yet received a response. The Bastrop County Sheriff's Department may be next to get involved.