OAKLAND, Calif. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today approved the state of California’s request for an extension of its program using federal funds to provide temporary hotel and motel housing for Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees. As one of 10 states housing a high concentration of the evacuee population nationwide, California was eligible for an additional extension. The hotel/motel program now will end Jan. 7, 2006, as opposed to Dec. 15, 2005, in the state of California.
Other states eligible to request the Jan. 7 extension are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas.
Federal Coordinating Officer for the California recovery operation Karen E. Armes approved the extension following receipt of a housing placement plan and timeline from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES). The extension was approved to accommodate efforts to move all evacuees out of hotels and into apartments and longer-term housing.
FEMA continues to reach out to evacuees through public service announcements, local media, and by distributing flyers to evacuees in hotels and motels to provide them with further information about the assistance they may be eligible for and help in finding longer-term housing as needed. Evacuees are being contacted directly by state, voluntary organizations and FEMA representatives visiting hotels and motels. FEMA has also set up a housing referral service.
Evacuees who need help finding longer-term housing may contact FEMA’s housing locator service at 1-800-762-8740 or TTY 1-800-462-7585, open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT. For other forms of assistance and questions, evacuees may contact FEMA’s help line at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585.
For individuals and families who were displaced from federally subsidized low-income housing by Hurricane Katrina and Rita or were homeless prior to Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has a disaster assistance housing program available. To learn more, call 1-866-373-9509 or TTY 1-800-877-8339.
OES coordinates overall state agency response to major disasters in support of local government. The office is responsible for ensuring California’s readiness to respond to and recover from natural, manmade and war-caused emergencies and for assisting local governments in their emergency preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery efforts.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003. FEMA Region IX services the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada, as well as territories in the Western Pacific.