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October 05, 2005

Hotel that housed no refugees paid six grand by FEMA

From the St. Petersburg Times...

Liz Taylor opened her mother's mail last week to find two checks worth nearly $6,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The checks were written to Sandcastle Apartments, owned by Taylor's mother, for housing Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

But the two Madeira Beach units haven't housed any evacuees.

"I was shocked when they came, and certainly I never considered cashing them," said Geraldine Taylor, 86. "The way it was written out, I could have cashed it!"

So here's where I'm thinking: I didn't house any Katrina victims...where do I go to get my check? Can I get some more for not housing Rita victims? There are tons of hurricanes that I didn't house any refugees from, can I get paid for any of those? What about other natural disaster? I'm not housing any victims of the wildfires in California; can I get paid for that, too?

Anyway, the story continues...

She asked her daughter to investigate.

Liz Taylor, 47, of Tampa sent an e-mail to Corporate Lodging Consultants of Wichita, Kan., which sent the checks. The consulting company works for the American Red Cross, which FEMA uses to administer a lodging reimbursement program.

Kyle Rogg, Corporate Lodging senior vice president, saw the e-mail from Liz Taylor with the subject line, "Wrong Check." He called her back within minutes....

When penniless evacuees come into qualifying hotels, the hotels check the evacuees' identification and ZIP code to make sure they are from declared disaster areas.

Then, the hotels send Corporate Lodging the bill via a company Web site.

In the Taylors' case, Rogg said, a hotel he would not identify made a mistake while filling out online forms for reimbursement.

That's how the checks landed in Geraldine Taylor's mailbox

Darn, another money-making idea shot to heck. I was looking forward to going into the “not housing refugees” business.

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Posted by Danny Carlton at October 5, 2005 05:47 AM

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