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FEMA says it placed more than 53,000 Harvey victims in hotels

Harvey's impact

HOUSTON -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said Monday 53,630 Texas residents displaced by Harvey are currently staying in government-funded hotel rooms.

FEMA spokesman Bob Howard said the temporary housing has been provided for 18,732 households. Once people are granted the assistance there is a minimum allotment of 14 days, but that can be extended on a case-by-case basis.

FEMA is currently using vacant hotel rooms to provide temporary housing, but officials also are weighing other options such as mobile homes should the need arise.

Under another FEMA program, displaced residents who are able to find their own apartment can receive two months of paid rent upfront and can qualify for more as needed.

Harvey
Jamica Batts sits on a hotel bed with her two-month-old baby Jarasiah Batts as they pack to leave Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, in Houston. Gregory Bull/AP

Howard says that under the disaster declaration President Trump signed, the federal government contributes 90 percent of the relocation costs while Texas provides the other 10 percent.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on "Face the Nation," FEMA chief Brock Long called Harvey a "wake-up call" for state and local officials when it comes to budgets.

"It is a wake-up call for this country for local and state elected officials to give their governors and their emergency management directors, you know, the full budgets that they need to be fully staffed, to design rainy day funds, to have your own standalone individual assistance and public assistance programs," Long said.

FEMA Admin. Brock Long says Hurricane Harvey is a "wake-up call"

"People cannot depend solely on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to, you know, be responsible for a majority," he continued. "You know, states do a lot of work. They do a lot of work. But I think that we all have to collectively sit down after this event and figure out how to collectively improve."

FEMA has created an emergency response center in part of the George R. Brown Convention Center, the downtown Houston building that housed around 10,000 evacuees at its peak and is down to around 1,500 people. A line of people waited to speak with FEMA representatives for assistance that could include up to 30 days' hotel stay and two months of help with rent in temporary housing.

Some people who have registered with the agency said they were offered hotel rooms as far away as San Antonio, a three-hour drive west. They've elected to remain in the convention center or find another place to stay for the time being.