Posts Tagged ‘housing for Hurricane Ike’

Housing Needs for Those Displaced by Ike

Sunday, September 14th, 2008
KTRH News Radio in Houston Helping the Community

KTRH News Radio in Houston Helping the Community

This photograph shows the volunteer efforts of Houston Radio Station KTRH 740 AM News Radio to distribute ice and water to those in need before FEMA’s efforts have begun. I was a guest on their news radio program this afternoon to offer tips to their listeners about their urgent recovery needs. One of the issues that many callers had concerned the needs for immediate housing. FEMA has announced a program for offering hotel rooms but, according to the host of the radio program, FEMA’s website has not been updated for Texas since Hurricane Dolly. The callers reported frustration that they could not get information about this hotel program and which hotels are participating.

Here is how it works: Texas residents who have been displaced from their homes by Hurricane Ike can report to a participating hotel that is open and benefit from free temporary housing. These hotels have arrangements with FEMA to house displaced residents without requiring payment on check-in. It is similar to what the airlines do for you when you are bumped from a flight and they put you up overnight in a hotel. They have pre-negotiated rates with local hotels and you claim the room with a voucher. It is the same for the FEMA program, except that you don’t need a paper voucher.

The callers to the radio program expressed a great deal of confusion because they don’t know which hotels are participating and they cannot get through to FEMA. This is common in the aftermath of a major disaster: communications with relief agencies will be difficult. Here is the hotel list for Hurricane Gustav, but I am told that it applies for Ike as well. Be sure to call and confirm that the hotel is open for business and accepting guests before heading to any property. (By the way, for future reference, if you find yourself in a disaster and you don’t have Internet access, try calling the airlines. The FEMA hotel list in most cities substantially overlaps with the hotels that airlines have negotiated rates for passengers who have been bumped.)

Of course, once you secure temporary emergency housing for the next few nights, you will then have to deal with your longer-term housing needs. I will talk about that on tomorrow’s radio program. I will be a guest again on KTRH News Radio 740 AM in Houston at 7:00 a.m. CST and will also post some additional information on this blog.