Foreclosed Home Away From Home for Storm Victims

FEMA Wants Florida Evacuees to Weather the Storm in Foreclosed Houses

If another Katrina-like hurricane hits Florida,  FEMA wants evacuees to make themselves at home in one of the state's many foreclosed houses.

The plan is still in the works, but the hope is that if another massive storm hits the Sunshine State, the federal government will work with banks and mortgage holders to keep Floridians close to their communities by placing them in the empty foreclosed properties.

It's a last-resort option that likely won't be used until shelters, hotels and other options are full, but FEMA officers says it's a real possibility that could be a silver lining in the foreclosure crisis.

"When you have a diaspora that leaves the state it's very hard to get those guys back. You really want to prevent them from leaving the state," said Jeff Bryant, FEMA's federal coordinating officer for Florida. "We want to keep them in their same local community."

Hurricane Katrina had a devastating effect on Florida when it swept through in 2005, with thousands of victims fleeing the area for Texas and Georgia, never to return.

Under the plan, storm evacuees would be assigned homes close to their own, with a FEMA official paying the rent to the home owner.

There were 278,287 homes in some stage of foreclosure in Florida in April, according to RealtyTrac.

Bryant said the plan will probably only be implemented in a "large catastrophic event."

For all 2009 hurricane season info check out NBC's hurricane guide.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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