NEW ORLEANS - A group of Hurricane Isaac victims on the Northshore is breathing a collective sigh of relief tonight after finally hearing the state will help them with housing for another week.
The program, Short Term Assistance for Rental Services, or STARS, took over after FEMA’s housing program ended last month, and is renewed on a weekly basis.
Every Monday, the desk at the La Quinta Inn in Covington is the meeting place to find out if STARS will continue or end. For the families, relying on the program while their homes are being repaired, the day is agonizing.
Daffney Fichter, whose home was flooded in Washington Parish said, “Every week, we fill out some forms of papers and stuff like that and it’s at the last minute they'll call and let the hotel know we've been approved for another seven days."
This Monday, that call came less than an hour from check-out. It was a relief for now.
"We have nothing but two-by-fours now. It's all a shell," said Madisonville resident Mary Ellen Pennington.
Not every family is waiting to finish rebuilding their homes. The Gallos, a family of five, is just trying to start over in Covington.
"Stressful, really stressful," said Gary Gallo. "My kids grades have gone down a little and me and my wife just stressing over what are we going to do next."
While the weekly waiting continues for these Isaac victims, the hotel here has come up with a one-day extension for when the help 'does' stop. But these families aren't holding out for any long-term help to kick in. They just need a little time. For many, that means just a few more weeks, either in hotel rooms, or in a monthly-rental somewhere else, which they say is hard to find. So cars stay packed up and fingers crossed for the next Monday waiting game, while they hope the state finds a better way to keep them informed.
Information on how long the state’s housing help can last, or what options remain once it ends, was unavailable due to the state holiday.