Many Storm Victims are House Hunting for the Holidays

by Ramonica R. Jones

Hurricane evacuees in some Texas cities are having a hard time finding housing. Katrina victims living in Lufkin hotels say they're also unable to find a place to live because the city is now overcrowded.

With FEMA's hotel housing deadline quickly approaching, some are wondering if they'll be able to move out in time.

The Dewalt family has called the Holiday Inn in Lufkin home for almost two months. They're looking for a place to live but, so far, no luck.

FEMA representatives on Thursday went over housing possibilities with some of the evacuees now staying there.

Alzoria Dewalt said, "It's really not enough houses because they're overpopulated because everybody already got them. It might take from two or three months, or maybe a year, to get in an apartment."

FEMA's initial hotel housing deadline was December 1st, but some evacuees say the deadline of February 7th still doesn't leave enough time to find adequate and affordable housing.

Thelma Dewalt said, "You go out every day and look, but it's hard to find a house. You may find one bedroom, two bedrooms, but nothing to your standards."

The Dewalts said they've looked everywhere for a place to live. They've been apartment and house hunting for more than a month now. They're not looking for anything fancy, just something warm, affordable, and big enough for the six of them.

FEMA has extended its hotel housing deadline three times. Last week, a federal judge ruled the agency must continue paying the hotel and motel bills of evacuees until February 7th. Tens of thousands of evacuees still live in hotels and motels across the state.