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Late Checkout for Hotel Evacuees

By: Ilyssa Trussel
By: Ilyssa Trussel

Roylynn Jones lived through two of the worst hurricanes in history; first Camille, then Katrina. After Katrina hit her home in Gulfport, Mississippi she and her companion Jay Hendry evacuated to Tallahassee where they're temporarily living in a Howard Johnson hotel.

Jones says although the worst is over, each stay is still a struggle.

"Just not knowing what the future brings. I had my one and only child and I've been away from her for six months, Thanksgiving to Christmas and everything. You know, it's pretty rough."

Jones is one of about 90 evacuees in Tallahassee still living in a hotel. Evacuees were supposed to move out by February 7, but FEMA is now giving them an extra couple weeks.

Rick Bhula is the general manager at the Quality Inn and Suites on Apalachee Parkway. At one point his hotel housed 22 families. Now there's just a handful left. He says he's glad FEMA is offering an extension for them so they can continue putting their lives back together.

"I think it’s wonderful for them as long as they are able to continue living here and they have an assurance that they will have a place to stay. I think it's a win-win situation for both of us," he says.

Jones has applied for the extension but doesn't know if she'll be accepted. She also doesn't know what she'll do next or how long she'll be without a permanent home.

"I sure didn't think I'd be here five to six months," she said giggling.

Jones says she's keeping her spirits high and still patiently waiting on another check from FEMA. She says as soon as she receives it in the mail she'd like to return to Mississippi to reunite with her two-year-old daughter Angel.

Meanwhile, she hasn't been able to work because she has medical problems and can't stay on her feet for eight hours a day.

Those who missed the deadline Monday will have to start paying for their hotel accommodations out of their own pocket starting February 7.


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