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Local flood survivors wait to hear when San Diego County hotel assistance will end

Posted at 9:02 AM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 12:02:08-04

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (KGTV) – Survivors of the January floods will find out Tuesday how much longer they can stay in San Diego County's temporary lodging program.

For more than two months now, the county has housed flood victims in local hotels.

However, the county is phasing people out of the program, which ends May 11. The earliest people will have to leave is 7 days from April 2.

The plan will impact Keirington Pankey and his multi-generational family, who have stayed in a hotel funded by the county for several weeks.

Pankey father is bedbound, and he has two young children to take care of.

“We can’t put stuff in the fridge because it’s too small. So, it’s just stuff like that. I just want a home. It doesn’t even have to be my home. Help me find something I can afford because I work," said Pankey.

The county’s plan is to transition flood survivors out of the program in either 7 days, 14 days, or by May 11.

Those flood victims with 7 days left either didn’t register for FEMA aid, couldn’t prove they were flood victims, or broke the rules.

Survivors with 14 days were told by FEMA that their homes were safe to live in again.

“We've been in the dark so long now that I think people are just kinda like, ‘Look, can we get help with finding a home or not or repairing our homes? That’s what I’m coming down to," said Pankey.

Pankey’s home in Spring Valley was visibly impacted by the Jan. 22 floods. The county has told him and other flood survivors to apply for FEMA assistance. His family did, but he Pankey said the money they received just isn’t enough.

“FEMA told us that, in a sense, they just help homes -- one single home. So, to them, we did get paid out about $20,000," he said.

Half of the money is for home repairs and half is for shelter.

Pankey said a contractor told him last week that the price tag to fix his family’s home is going to be at least $100,000.

A FEMA official told ABC 10News that rental assistance is disbursed in two-month increments.

Knowing that the time is ticking, Pankey’s family is looking for their next housing option.

“Right now, we’re looking into possibly three- to four-bedroom apartments, or we can return to the house and wait until we can start restoring it," he said.

As of Friday, the county said more than 400 households in its temporary hotel voucher program have not applied for FEMA assistance.

The FEMA money that’s available to flood victims will be sent via direct deposit or check.

Residents are being told to keep receipts and are warned if they don’t use the funding properly, they could have to pay it back and be cut off.