The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on November 3, 2005 · 465
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 465

Miami, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, November 3, 2005
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WWW HERALD COM THURSDAY NOVEMBER 3 2005 I 29A HURRICANE WILMA AFTERMATH I MORE COVERAGE SECTIONS B C SLOW GOING IN BROWARD J ALBERT DIAZHERALD STAFF As overhead signals dangle helplessly traffic is backed up Wednesday on Pine Island Road near State Road 84 and Interstate 595 in western Broward County HURRICANE WILMA DAMAGE More leave unsafe homes turn to strapped agencies 'HOMELESS FROM 1A uninhabitable and an unknown number of people left suddenly homeless “You don’t expect the damage to be this high” said Broward County Commissioner Joseph Eggelletion reacting to damage estimates during the council’s first meeting since Wilma struck on Oct 24 Options for emergency housing are dwindling fast or already depleted The rising need for relief has pushed the 124-year-old Red Cross to a financial edge Red Cross spokesman Ken Austin said Wednesday that the agency which borrowed $304 million last week after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita depleted its Disaster Relief Fund could not care for South Florida evacuees over the long term “We’re helping folks right now with immediate needs” Austin said “but with this magnitude of a disaster the next step would be FEMA” The agency said it could no longer afford to house evacuees in hotels The Salvation Army has run out of beds And government housing authorities have little or no vacancies Residents of one Deerfield Beach building awoke Wednesday morning to find bright orange notes tagged to their doors — their condominiums had been condemned Nicole Lussier grunted in disgust and despair as she combed through a pile of filthy soggy insulation in her newly renovated condo A Canadian snowbird Lussier said she may fly home to Montreal earlier than expected this year As she spoke a picture hanging on the wall behind her fell The nails had loosened in the soggy wall “I have no idea what I’m going to do" she said While many of the dispossessed sought refuge with family and friends others were forced to turn to emergency shelters already stretched thin and facing their own problems The Red Cross is also running out of time Its four Broward shelters are in public schools that may need to close by Monday — the date school officials aim to resume class Austin said the agency plans to consolidate the shelters into a single larger facility that can accommodate its 850 evacuees in Broward But agency officials were still looking for a place Wednesday In Miami-Dadc the Red Cross is housing more than ISO evacuees on the county fairgrounds next to Florida International University in Tamlami But that shelter which is leaking must close Friday to make room for a scheduled event County officials scrambled to find three smaller shelters but had not identified any as of late Wednesday AT SHELTER: Broward Sheriffs Deputy Merriman Wright cuddles a 3-month-old at a Red Cross shelter at a Lauderdale school JARED LAZARUS HERALD STAFF Yet a group of seven families from the Gulf Coast — evacuees from Hurricane Katrina in August — said the Red Cross gave them two hours notice Wednesday to leave their rooms at the Wellesley Inn hotel in Plantation The families had been staying at the hotel using 2-week vouchers from the Red Cross On Wednesday they said they were told to contact FEMA to extend their stays But the hotel’s 105 rooms are booked through Sunday said assistant manager William Caldwell and many of the new guests are evacuees from Wilma Freddie Anderson of New Orleans who evacuated after Katrina said he contacted the Red Cross about his stay and was told to speak with FEMA When he reached FEMA he said he was referred back to the Red Cross “Why you giving me the runaround?” he asked Anderson who said he only has $300 to his name paid more than $100 to buy his six-member family one more night at the hotel while they figure out new living arrangements Red Cross spokeswoman Carrie Martin said the families could stay at Broward shelters Although far from filled the shelters were growing more crowded At Fox Trail elementary in Davie a handful of seniors and women had been sleeping in a music room and sharing a bathroom On Wednesday there were about two dozen cots in the room “Before it was more like a family now it’s more like an institution” said Michele Cataldo 48 whose Fort Lauderdale apartment sustained water damage and lost a window Many staying in the shelters felt themselves slipping into homelessness At Arthur Ashe Middle School in Fort Lauderdale families sleep on cots or mattresses lining the gymnasium Evacuees store extra shoes washcloths boxer shorts and newspapers on the bleachers and keep their possessions in garbage bags or suitcases by their beds Joseph and Juanita Bielik arrived at Arthur Ashe with their three children and Juanita’s mother at 5 am Wednesday The Fort Lauderdale apartment they had moved into two weeks ago sprung a few leaks after Wilma Tuesday’s rain caused the ceiling to cave into the living room and kitchen “It almost looked like snow” Juanita Bielik said “It snowed in my apartment It’s a foot deep” The family salvaged some clothes and drove for hours looking for a hotel They moved into the shelter when they couldn’t fmd a vacancy “I’ve never been through anything like this” Bielik said “We don’t really know what we are going to do We live paycheck to paycheck I make $7 an hour My husband makes $725 an hour It’s hard We were just starting to get on our feet” FEMA officials said they already had rented property in Broward to begin housing evacuees But the agency's effort was slowed in Broward as it waited for county emergency officials to deliver an accounting of the need according to FEMA authorities FEMA officials said evacuees must call the agency at 800-621-3362 to apply for housing aid To date 156989 victims of Wilma have applied for housing assistance said spokesman Hugo Buehring As of Oct 24 more than 3000 applicants had been approved for housing assistance Buehring said and $63 million had been earmarked to pay for it In Miami-Dadc as more cities began reporting the numbers of homes deemed unsafe by municipal and county building departments the number swelled from L532 to 2059 units The number is expected to grow “They’re still not large numbers in the scheme of things” said County Manager George Burgess Still county Red Cross and FEMA officials were sorting out whose responsibility it was to care for the evacuees Herald staff writers Evan S Bcnn Audra DS Burch Wanda J DcMarzo Jennifer Lebovich Noakl Schwarts and Darran Simon contributed to this report Your Sunday Herald has hundreds of dollars worth of free coupons every week Save money on groceries and cosmetics Get discounts at restaurants Receive special offers Coupons in Sunday s Herald: Save money on stuff you buy every week! w- -'T rr 1 50e!£‘ --- 1 savesp I ’-L ' U rrr? 2 L v i

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