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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:08, October 14, 2005
US spends 11 million dollars daily on hotels for hurricane evacuees: report
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The US government spends about 11 million US dollars a day on hotel rooms for hundreds of thousands of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, as relief officials are striving to meet the president's mid-October deadline to clear out shelters, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The number of evacuees in hotels has grown by 60 percent in the past two weeks as some shelters closed, reaching nearly 600,000 as of Tuesday, the report said.

However, more than 22,000 people still remained in shelters in 14 states on Wednesday, and relief officials might not be able to meet the deadline.

Katrina hit the US Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, killing more than 1, 200 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.

Hotel costs are expected to grow to as much as 425 million dollars by Oct. 24, a large expense never anticipated by the Federal Emergency and Management Agency (FEMA), which is footing the bill, the report said.

The reliance on hotels has been necessary because the FEMA has had problems installing mobile homes and travel trailers for evacuees and has been slow to place victims in apartments, housing advocates were cited as saying.

The American Red Cross started the hotel program days after Hurricane Katrina struck, when it became clear that the shelters it had opened were not adequate to deal with the 600,000 to 700, 000 families displaced by the storm, the report quoted a Red Cross spokeswoman as saying.

The hotel program was intended to last a couple of weeks but has twice been extended by the FEMA, and Red Cross officials saw no end to the initiative, according to the report.

Last month, the FEMA began handing out 2,358 dollars per family for three months so that families in shelters or hotels could rent apartments, and to date, more than 415,000 households have been approved for that aid, totaling 979 million dollars.

But FEMA officials cannot say how many families have used the money for apartments, or simply spent it on expenses while also living in a government-financed hotel room, the report said.

Source: Xinhua

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