N.J. Sandy Victims Kicked Out Of FEMA-Approved Hotel For Scrapbooking Retreat
TRI-STATE NEWS HEADLINES
LONG BRANCH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Forced out for a second time.
First they were driven from their homes by Superstorm Sandy; now, families living in hotels along the Jersey Shore are getting the boot again.
Sandy victim Bill Johns was in the lobby of his hotel in Long Branch on Friday figuring out his next move after being told he has to move out.
“They’re giving you days that you can leave and days that you can come back into the hotel,” Johns told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
That’s because the Oceanport Resort and Spa is double booked this weekend.
A scrapbooking retreat — planned months before Sandy — is taking up 75 of the hotel’s 250 rooms.
The conflict up and down the Jersey Shore is so dire that the mayor of Sea Bright tweeted the following:
“When ur FEMA sponsored hotel has a prebooked wedding or event, u get evicted 4 the weekend. Unfortunately some had no where 2 go but car.”
“Of course you feel bad of that… But you don’t know, if that’s the case, this was booked a long time ago…,” said hotel guest Grace Zaugg.
And that’s the scenario at just one hotel.
There are countless others housing Sandy victims through FEMA with nowhere else to go because their homes have been destroyed.
“I don’t think it’s the hotels, I think it’s at the root of FEMA,” said Suzanne Branagan, the deputy borough clerk of Sea Bright.
Branagan said her office is still swamped with requests for help from hurricane victims, who have been forced to move in and out of rooms.
“Yeah, they need money to get places to live, but also, too, housing is at a premium,” Branagan said.
A FEMA spokesman said “We recognize the problem, but we can’t control market conditions. However, no one should be on the streets or in cars. We have alternative hotels. We are here to help.”
“We’re at the mercy of their accommodations and that’s basically it,” Johns said.
For now, Johns will go back to his storm-damaged home, which has no power and no heat, but at least it’s not his car.
FEMA encourages storm victims facing a hotel conflict to call their hepline at 1-800-621-3362.