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FEMA to Pay For Hotel Rooms for Hurricane Sandy Victims

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Nov 06, 2012 05:50 PM EST

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Hurricane Sandy has left many without a place to go. To help those in need, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued vouchers for hotel stays to those who are staying in emergency shelters and others who need a place to stay.

More than 34,000 people are displaced because of Hurricane Sandy. Many homes were severely flooded, some collapsed, and some burnt to the ground, leaving thousands in New York and New Jersey homeless, according to Reuters. Others are looking to evacuate as their neighborhoods, which are now disaster areas, are still left without electricity, heat, and hot water.

In order to help those that need a place to stay, government groups such as FEMA are providing vouchers to people to stay in hotels while they figure out a more permanent living situation.

"If they can move into a hotel or motel, it's a little bit more comfortable for them," agency Administrator Craig Fugate told Business Week. "This is designed as an intermediate step." Victims who has uninhabitable homes will get more permanent living solutions.

This particularly applies to the over 18,000 that are currently staying in shelters. As the weather gets colder, the government wants to movie victims to more comfortable living situations.

FEMA will cover the cost of staying in a hotel or motel for a limited period of time.  Additional amenities such as phone charges, room service and other things are not covered.

FEMA is working with contractor, Corporate Lodging Consultants to help displaced victims find the best hotels. They are considering things such as where the family works, where the children atend school and other factors.

The room rates will be the same as the ones that the government pays for federal employees on business trip, which is set by the General Services Administration. The costs are split by federal and state governments at 75 to 25 percent.

The hotels could cost a pretty penny for those staying in New York City and the GSA already pays an average of $295 a night for federal employees throughout the city. Hotels are a bit cheaper in New Jersey as the GSA pays $96 a night for rooms in Atlantic City. Atlantic City was also deeply affected by the storm.

In addition to helping those who need a place to stay, the government will not cause more grief to homeowners in the area. Housing foreclosures have been suspended in areas that were affected by the storm.

"We don't want families to be victimized twice - once by the storm and once by a foreclosure," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said, according to Business Week. 

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