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Hotel assistance for Sandy victims extended

(L-R) Audrey Kogut, 44, with her sister Maude,

(L-R) Audrey Kogut, 44, with her sister Maude, 38, Maude's daughter, Arianna, 7, and their mother and Arianna's grandmother, Hannah, 71, were displaced from their Lindenhurst home following superstorm Sandy, and shared a small hotel room in Ronkonkoma since the storm. (Dec. 20, 2012) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Nearly 1,000 Long Island households displaced by superstorm Sandy can remain in hotels for an additional two weeks, after the federal government extended funding for the temporary housing program.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has delayed the "checkout date" for families in the transitional sheltering assistance program until Jan. 27, a spokesman for the agency said Friday. Previously, the FEMA-funded hotel stays had been set to end Sunday.

The program funds hotel rooms for about 970 Long Island households, including individuals and entire families, according to FEMA. This is the third extension of the program, which began Nov. 3.

Lea Kalodes, who is staying at the Best Western in Rockville Centre with her 19-month-old son, her mother and her father, a disabled Vietnam veteran, said two more weeks might not be enough. The family's East Rockaway home suffered severe storm damage, she said.

It will take another month or two to repair many storm-damaged homes, and that is not enough time to rent an apartment, she said.

"Nobody has anywhere to go," she said. "I'm really scared."

The hotel stays were never meant to be a long-term solution, John Mills, a FEMA spokesman, said. "At the same time, we understand that there are housing difficulties that are unique to the New York area, so that's why these multiple extensions have been approved so far," he said.

News of the extension was greeted with approval Friday by state and federal officials.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose administration requested the extension, said the hotel stays "will provide individuals with shelter while we work to get people back into longer-term housing."

Extending the program "was the right thing to do," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

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