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Displaced Residents Moving to Cruise Ship

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PASCAGOULA, Miss. - Joanna Rogers has lived in three different places since Hurricane Kartrina reduced her Pascagoula home to rubble on Aug. 29. After a week with her mother in Moss Point, a week with a brother in Escatawpa and two weeks with her cousin in Pascagoula, Rogers is now looking for a place to call home.

People like Rogers are becoming more common because they originally thought they would have to stay with friends and family for only two to three weeks. Rogers is now considering boarding the 1,452-passenger Carnival cruise ship Holiday, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency leased along with two other vessels from the Miami-based cruise line.

"You can only intrude on your friends and family so long," Rogers said. "I don't want to do that no more." FEMA is using the ships, leased for six months for $192 million, to provide temporary housing for storm victims.

About 500 of the rooms on-board have been taken up, mainly by Jackson County residents displaced by the storm, and that number is expected to increase when the ship is relocated to the Port of Pascagoula, FEMA spokesman Gene Romano said Tuesday.

Port Director Mark McAndrews said all the necessary preparations are in place and the ship could possibly pull into port this week.

After some port repairs were made, the main port requirement was to ensure enough potable water can be delivered to Katrina victims. A bus service has been provided for displaced residents to go to work and gather essential items.

Romano said anyone wanting to stay aboard the Holiday have to apply at one of the agency's disaster recovery centers. Rooms on the ship are also being offered to a priority list of first responders and essential personnel in the most affected communities.

More than 2,100 FEMA travel campers and mobile homes have been provided, and thousands of travel trailers and other types of temporary housing are on the way, Romano said. "As the saying goes, not everyone wants to live in a shelter, not everyone wants to go live in a cruise ship," Romano said.

In addition to the cruise ships, FEMA is talking to camp sites with cabins, RV parks and other places where utilities are available, he said.

Information from: The Mississippi Press

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