AUSTIN, Texas – A plan to move some Hurricane Katrina evacuees from the Houston Astrodome (search) to cruise ships was postponed Tuesday because many didn't want to go, and a proposed airlift of refugees out of strained Texas appeared to be on hold after the federal government took over.
Officials had planned to begin moving about 4,000 evacuees on Tuesday to cruise ships docked at ports on the Gulf of Mexico (search).
However, officials of the Hurricane Katrina Houston Response (search) announced Tuesday that the plan was delayed.
Incident Commander Joe Leonard said some people brought to Houston from the Louisiana Superdome (search) want to stay where they are to concentrate on locating lost loved ones. Others want stability after having to evacuate their homes, being forced to endure squalid conditions in the Superdome and then being moved again to Texas.
"The 'Dome is home for them," Leonard said in a statement. "For residents, another immediate relocation is simply too much, too soon."
Carnival Corp. had said its Carnival Cruise Lines chartered three ships to the federal government — the Ecstasy, Sensation and Holiday — for six months to be used as shelters for up to 7,000 hurricane refugees.
Gov. Rick Perry had said Sunday that Texas needs other states to help manage the refugee crisis. Officials at Texas relief centers say they are simply running out of room.
An airlift to other states had been expected to begin under the direction of the Texas National Guard.
However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (search) took over the operation on Sunday and planes never took off.
It was unclear when any flights might actually leave and there was no explanation for the delay. There was no immediate response Tuesday morning to a call seeking comment from FEMA's Public Affairs Office in Washington.
FEMA spokesman Dean Cushman said Monday: "We are not coordinating it as of right now."
The state airlift plans were still in place and could be executed if needed, the governor said.
"We're ready when they are," Perry said.
Texas officials estimate about 100,000 Louisiana residents are staying in hotels and motels across the state and an additional 139,000 are being temporarily housed in 137 shelters.
The Carnival cruise ship Ecstasy, normally ported at Galveston for four-and five-day cruises, and Sensation, normally in New Orleans for similar trips, were scheduled to house Katrina refugees in Galveston. The Holiday, which normally sails four and five-day Mexico cruises out of Mobile, Ala., was expected to be docked in Mobile.