FEMA extends hotel stay for Sandy victims

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State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg said that he will press for another extension in Albany next week.

“People are calling me and saying, ‘My house is non-livable, I’m in a motel, I have a child and what am I supposed to do?’” he said. “I’m hoping that FEMA is going to understand that we have 1,000 people who are displaced and this is their only ability to have housing. There are also a lot of people that have to be in a reasonable area in our city so their kids can go to school.”

Uncertainty adds to stress of being displaced

Kerrigan Street resident Joan Graham, a 74-year-old widow with an asthma condition, whose home was significantly damaged in the storm, has been staying at a number of hotels with her son since Nov. 3. Because many were booked, she said that it was difficult finding one that was participating in the FEMA program.

“We were at the Ramada Inn and then we went to the Holiday Inn in Rockville Centre, which wasn’t a FEMA hotel, but it was the only place that we could get at the time because there were so few hotels available,” she said.

Although FEMA funded her stay, Graham explained that she wasn’t given the reduced government rate, and was forced to shell out $2,300 of her own money. Two weeks ago, however, Graham managed to find a room at a Best Western in Rockville Centre, which is participating in the FEMA program. And then she was told she had to get out.

“They had a meeting here on Wednesday, saying that we had to be out of here [by Sunday] — the FEMA people came here and we didn’t even know about it,” she said. “They are so poorly organized; we happened to go down to the lobby and they told us the FEMA people are here. They said that they are discontinuing the funding and that we had to speak with the Red Cross, and they gave us a list of apartments but they were in eastern Suffolk County, and most were unfurnished. And then this morning, we heard that they were extending it. We never know about these things, it’s always up to the last minute.”

Still, Graham said that it could be months before she is able to return home, and explained that while the two-week extension helps, it’s hardly enough time because many residents have nowhere to go. The uncertainty, she said, has only added to the stress of being displaced.

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