Evacuees face deadline on hotel stays

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 27, 2006

Hurricane evacuees still staying in hotels have less than a weekto get an authorization code for their stays to be covered byfederal assistance, Federal Emergency Management Agency officialssaid.

Evacuees must call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) by Jan. 30 toget a unique code in order to have their stays paid for beyond Feb.7. The code is then given to hotel and motel operators as part ofthe subsidy program.

“If they (evacuees) get the code, we’ll work with them to extendthe housing,” said Sandy Jasmund, FEMA public informationofficer.

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If an evacuee does not get a code by Jan. 30, FEMA will stoppaying for the hotel room bill on Feb. 7.

Evacuees who get a code will have the rooms paid for through atleast Feb. 13. When they make the call, evacuees will be told whenFEMA will stop paying for their hotel rooms.

“We want to work with them regarding housing so there won’t be aproblem and someone thinks they’re going to be homeless,” Jasmundsaid.

FEMA plans no further extensions of the hotel subsidy programbeyond the current expiration date.

Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA has provided assistancefor 750,000 families affected by the storms. Fewer than 27,000families are still living in hotels and motels nationwide.

Jasmund did not know how many of those were in the southwestMississippi area. She said locating evacuees was another reason forpeople to call the authorization code number.