Miscommunication leads to flood victims displaced from Kinston hotel

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – It’s been a long two weeks for Shakima Sniders.

She had been living in a Kinston Holiday Inn Express hotel paid for by FEMA, but on Thursday she was told she could no longer stay there because her room was booked for someone else.

“Frustration is the best way to sum it up,” Sniders said.

It’s due to a miscommunication between FEMA and flooding victims.

People whose homes were flooded received free hotel vouchers, but it was up to them to book the rooms.

FEMA covers the cost until a specific date and many ended Friday.

FEMA gave the flood victims an extension earlier in the week, but it was up to them to make sure the rooms were available. By that time, the rooms were already booked.

“We have Sanderson Farms, we have Spirit, we have insurance adjusters, we have people coming in from all over trying to help the community and there are future reservations that they made,” said Travis Baker, director of operations for the hotel. “We are committed to honoring those reservations because there is nowhere to put them.

Baker said he is doing everything he can to help those displaced. He said he’s looking for rooms at hotels in other counties, but many are already booked.

“There is so much I want to do, but I just can’t do, not with 50 residents,” said Baker. “Of course if it was one or two we could do a lot of juggling, but right now my heart goes out to them.”

For people looking for a place to stay, the shelter at Lenoir Community College is still open.

Sniders said she is going to spend the rest of Friday night looking for an available hotel, even if it’s more than thirty miles away.

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