The occupants of more than 4,500 government-paid hotel rooms were ordered to turn in their keys Tuesday, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency began cutting off money to pay for their stays.
Far more people — the occupants of at least 20,000 hotel rooms, many of which housed entire families — were given extensions by FEMA until at least next week and possibly until March 1, said FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney.
FEMA said it gave people every possible opportunity to request an extension. Read more.
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"I think these people have had more than enough time to find jobs and pay their own way by now. Some seem to think they are owed something. I myself had a hard time finding work last year. I was fired from a job and it took six months to get another one. No one paid my bills for me. These people just want a free handout. Am I heartless? No way, but you don't get something for nothing." — Ernest
"FEMA is failing people again, and it is shameful that the president is doing nothing for the victims of this country's greatest natural disaster. It disgusts me that Bush is hanging these people out to dry. Here in New York, the evacuees were placed in some of the worst neighborhoods in the city. Most people want to forget that something bad happened, well it DID happen. Wait until something happens beyond your control, you'll be singing a different tune." — Ella (Brooklyn, NY)
"The government can't support them forever. On the other hand, I'm sure that there are individuals and families still in need of support, even though they are making efforts to obtain housing and employment on their own. The problem becomes one of sorting these people out and providing support only to those who are physically unable to help themselves. I certainly don't envy those charged with making these decisions." — Phil (Rensselaer, NY)
"Years ago there was a major flooding in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties in California. Santa Cruz County used the university stadium as a temporary shelter point for displaced families. National Guard brought in tents, supplied food and water, and toilet/shower facilities. People camped there. I was with social services at the time. FEMA came in with funding covering this and cleanup. The people in the stadium remained week after week, and then month after month. People did leave a little at a time, however it soon became evident that many were not making any plans to leave. It became necessary for authorities to take action. They removed the toilet/showers, stopped supplying food & water, removed the tents, and told people to leave. Still, people had to be removed physically from the stadium. They ended up being loaded into trucks and taken outside the stadium where they were unloaded, and the stadium was locked closed. Katrina people will probably do likewise. Sad, but true." — Sharon (Clearlake, CA)
"Bush is turning his back on these people yet again! It is appalling beyond compare. They will remember this around election time, I can assure you." — Jake (Austin, TX)
"They have had a hand up and time to put their life back together. I realize it is a terrible set of circumstances that transpired. It was a catastrophe. That being said it does not give them the right to expect a blank check." — Chris (Maine)
"Look, it is too easy to say that these people are freeloading. Most Americans have no idea what they have been through and are going through. What would happen if you lost you home, your income, loved ones, etc.? Most people cannot comprehend this. It is pathetic and almost racist to write them off as people taking advantage of the system. I doubt Jesus would be treating them the way that this administration has and continues to. It is all too sad." — Martha (Boston, MA)
"It is time for evacuees to take responsibility for themselves. These 25-year-old men sitting around waiting for something to happen are a poor excuse. Get out and help clean up your own community and take some responsibility for your own life instead of having a pity party." — Lois