Local Hotel Offering Shelter to Hurricane Evacuees
HARLINGEN – Many people in the Coastal Bend are returning home to find unlivable conditions. One Rio Grande Valley hotel is offering shelter to those evacuees.
“I started praying and quoting scripture at the top of my lungs,” Aransas Pass evacuee Jule Evans said. He decided to stay in Aransas Pass to watch over his trailer home and belongings while Hurricane Harvey made landfall.
He took cover between two concrete barriers and survived.
“That had to have been 150 mile per hour winds, at least at times or maybe more than that,” Evans said.
The home he wanted to protect didn’t fare as well. He said the hurricane tore up the trailer and there was water damage done to the inside.
Evans and his family reached out to FEMA for help. They were directed south to Country Inn and Suites in Harlingen.
“I’m just grateful for a place to get in, take a shower and have a place to stay. This is really terrible. I’m exhausted, haven’t hardly slept since the hurricane and it’s been really rough,” he said.
Country Inn and Suites spokesperson Crystal Breeland said they’ve already welcomed more than 20 families from the Coastal Bend since the weekend.
“We are registered with FEMA to offer our property, as far as a location for the time being that’s needed,” she said.
That means the hotel will house evacuees at no cost at least until Sept. 25. Then, seek reimbursement from the government at a later date.
Harlingen Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Cassandra Cuellar said currently there’s only five hotels that have registered with FEMA to host evacuees.
Over the weekend, they had 750 hotel bookings – 75 percent more than usual for this month.
“The city does not get any hotel, motel occupancy tax. It is currently waived right now because it is a disaster. And we only are showing our hospitality to our fellow Texans,” she said.
Evans knows he has a tough reality to face back home.
“It’s good to be here,” he said.
Besides the Country Inn and Suites, four others in Harlingen are also starting to welcome families from the Coastal Bend. Those include:
- America’s Best Value Inn
- Best Western Casa Villa Suites
- La Copa Inn and Suites
- Quality Inn
To be eligible for “Transitional Sheltering Assistance” by FEMA, evacuees will have to:
- Register with FEMA.
- Pass identity and citizenship check.
- Prove their primary residence is in a disaster designated area.
- Be displaced as a result of the disaster.
- Unable to obtain lodging through another source.
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