Sunday, December 25, 2005

I'm dreaming of a . . .

wo days before Christmas, the holiday spirit was nowhere to be found in a second-floor ballroom at the Astor Crowne Plaza hotel on Canal Street on Friday. "I don't even care about Christmas now," said Ashira Francis, who lost her rented eastern New Orleans home and everything in it to Katrina. "Once I get into a house I can worry about that." "What Christmas?" echoed Harriet Atkinson, another eastern New Orleans resident displaced by the storm. Atkinson and Francis are among those living in about 8,000 hotel rooms across the state and 37,000 rooms around the nation where the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been housing residents displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, at a cost of $3 million a day. But now, with some having lived in those rooms for several months, FEMA officials are making a concerted effort to get all of them into long-term housing.

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