Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 13, 2005
helping to foot some hotel bills
By DAVID PHELPS
The Natchez Democrat
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NATCHEZ &045; Victims of Katrina have one less thing to worry about: the Red Cross is picking up their hotel bills.
The program, a joint venture of the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and administered by Corporate Lodging Consultants, allows people from evacuated zip codes up to 14 nights of hotel accommodation at no charge.
But according to some reports, that 14 days could actually become indefinitely.
People who are using credit cards to pay for rooms can have the room charges transferred to the program.
Participating hotels have a list of zip codes from designated disaster areas &045; when registering; a person need only prove that he or she is from an affected zip code.
Cherry Moon, manager of the Days Inn, said 42 people &045; about a third of the booked hotel’s capacity &045; have signed up at the front desk for the program, with more doing so every day.
&uot;It’s going fine so far,&uot; she said. &uot;It helps the victims out and they’ve been so thankful.&uot;
Moon said she goes online to submit bills to the Red Cross, a process she described as easy. She expects little delay in receiving payment.
Ramada Inn, Travel Inn, Isle of Capri, The Natchez Inn, Comfort Inn and the Eola all said they are participating. The Relax Inn in Ferriday and Comfort Suites in Vidalia also are enrolled in the program.
Families are limited to one per room. Incidental expenses are not included in the program.
The bed and breakfasts, including Monmouth Plantation, said they had received no information about the program.
People staying at the participating hotels said enrolling in the program was easy.
&uot;They put signs up and let us know; it was really easy,&uot; Peggy Ward said. Ward is staying at the Ramada in with her husband, Robert, twin toddlers and her sister-in-law’s aunt, Lorraine Stafford. Their homes in Kenner and Gentilly are severely damaged, but they said the ease of the program was a step in the right direction.
&uot;It helps, every little bit helps.&uot;
The Wards are grateful for the assistance, but are nearing the end of their 14 days.
What then? According to a story in the Washington Post, Red Cross spokesperson Stacey Grissom said the period could be extended.
Messages left with Red Cross media contacts in Washington were not returned Monday.
A FEMA memo released Monday said &uot;applicants who are assisted through this program will receive two weeks of lodging assistance at a time.&uot;
As for those who have already checked out of hotels before the program began, and those who are in non-participating hotels, they may be eligible for reimbursement from under the FEMA application for individual assistance.
The program does not pay for people who move out of a shelter and into a hotel. If there is no room in a shelter, however, the Red Cross will pay for a room.
Those who have not filed applications for individual assistance with FEMA can do so by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362), 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing or speech impaired. Online registration is available at www.fema.gov.
Corporate Lodging Consultants takes care of accommodation logistics for corporations. Information about the company and the program is available at www.corplodging.com.