Katrina Evacuees Facing Hotel Deadline - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports


Katrina Evacuees Facing Hotel Deadline

When Hurricane Katrina forced thousands of people out of their homes, the federal government put many up in hotels across the country. But now, FEMA is telling hurricane victims that time's up and to look for another place to stay, unless they have filed for an extension.

We spoke with a Katrina victim who has been living at a hotel in the Coastal Empire. Robert Rayford, 58, has been bouncing back and forth from different hotels in Savannah for five months. He got his extension, but as of March 1, he says he won't have a place to go.

Rayford, of Alabama, has been calling a hotel room at the Best Western on Bay Street home lately. Rayford's home in Mobile was destroyed in the hurricane.

"I lost everything I had, everything," he said. "Everything except a few clothes."

And so with a few clothes and hardly any money, in March Rayford will have to look for a new place to call home. "I really don't know," he said. "I'm trying to locate housing, but it's been bad."

So bad that Rayford, who is also looking for a job, is afraid he will soon be on the streets. "I've never been homeless," he said. "That's something to scare a person. I don't know anybody, and yeah I'm afraid."

But Rayford isn't alone. Today is the first big deadline for Katrina victims staying in hotels across the United States. "I think for these people, their options are limited," said Dan Kurtz with the local chapter of the Red Cross. "Don't know what kind of funding they have. They have to pay for their own, and some might end up in homeless shelters, at least temporarily."

And that may soon be a reality for Rayford, if he doesn't get any more help from the federal government. "Everything is up in the air, and it's in limbo," he said. "I'm just waiting."

Rayford has been looking at some other options as far as housing and he is hoping to find something soon. FEMA will be granting two other extensions based on each person's needs. Those deadlines are on February 13 and March 1.

Reported by: Brooke Kelley, bkelley@wtoc.com


Powered by Frankly