DICKINSON, Texas (FOX 26) - In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the FEMA transitional sheltering assistance program provided interim lodging at hotels to more than 50,000 households.
With February past its halfway mark, more than 8,000 families are still in hotels funded by FEMA.
Said and Mona Elweshahi are one couple benefiting from the FEMA TSA program, at least until Thursday when they received a surprise phone call that their hotel stay was being cut short.
The couple tells FOX 26 News that their home flooded and two feet of water reached inside after Hurricane Harvey struck Dickinson. The house has a long way to go before repairs are completed, yet the husband and wife say they got a surprise call on Thursday that their FEMA approved stay at the Candlewood Suites is ending almost a month earlier than FEMA had originally told them.
"The front desk in the hotel called me, and they told me, 'We have bad news for you,'" describes Said. "'FEMA decided to end your hotel."
Said says the hotel staff called him on Thursday and told him that he and his wife needed to check out by Saturday. He also says he contacted FEMA to double check and got the same response.
"I did call FEMA," recounts Said. "They said, 'Yeah, we cannot help you any more.'"
That phone call contradicted the email the couple received from FEMA extending their hotel stay to March 13.
Their home repairs are ongoing but the house is still far from livable.
"They gave us the sink, and the water -- there is no water," says Said.
"Every time I'm here to use the bathroom, I have to run to the hotel," says Mona.
Said and Mona say they hired their own contractors to finish repairing their home after FEMA contractors left repairs incomplete. They were hoping the current construction crew would have the home livable by mid-March when they were originally scheduled to leave the hotel.
Now they're wondering where they'll stay on Saturday night.
"Where do we have to go?" asks Mona. "Put yourself in my shoes. Where do I have to go?"
FOX 26 contacted FEMA to ask about why they reduced the Elweshahi family's TSA housing stay. FEMA representatives said they could not comment on individual cases due to privacy.
Said and Mona say they are prepared to sleep right on their front lawn on Saturday night because they don't have another place to go.