Last Houston Red Cross shelter to close

October 16, 2008 1:38:43 PM PDT
Some of the nearly 300 Hurricane Ike victims still living in the city's last Red Cross shelter are worried about where they will live after it closes this weekend. ROAD TO RECOVERY: How you can help | Person locator | Important phone numbers | Assistance from FEMA | Filing a claim

Scheduled to cease operations Sunday, the shelter housed more than 1,000 people during the height of the storm. Officials said it was the last of 24 operated by the Red Cross in the Houston area.

Sheila Willis isn't sure where to turn after Ike swept away her car and home. She said her purse, with ID inside, was stolen during her stay at another Houston shelter, complicating her attempt to get help from FEMA.

Willis wants to stay with a friend in Oklahoma City, where she grew up, but isn't sure how to get there with her seven boxes of clothes and personal belongings.

"That's all I own in the world," she said.

Efforts are under way to provide transitional housing for Ike victims once the shelter closes.

"Our goal obviously is for everyone to have the resources that will provide some type of housing for them," said Denise Bishop, a spokeswoman for the Houston Red Cross chapter.

On Oct. 26, the Red Cross is scheduled to close its last shelter in Galveston. No date has been set for the Red Cross' final shelter in Baytown.

The housing department is working with the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies, to find shelter for people on an interim basis, said Cindy Gabriel, spokeswoman for Houston's Ike recovery effort.

Meanwhile, Ike victims whose homes remain uninhabitable can stay in hotels or motels paid for by the federal government until the first of November.

FEMA announced the extension Friday.

Those whose homes have been deemed uninhabitable by FEMA inspectors or whose inspections have not been done might qualify for the program. The agency says a longer-term rental housing program will follow the hotel plan.

Ike is the most expensive in Texas history, with an estimated pricetag of $11.4 billion so far.

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