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For Sandy's Homeless, Lives Of Anxiety In Hotels

The Sandy victims have formed a community here, waving to one another as they walk through the lobby to their rooms, sneaking out for cigarettes together and offering rides to people who need them. On a recent afternoon, a white box filled with cookies and cannoli was passed around for someone's birthday.

Burstein, 69, who is on disability, and her 37-year-old daughter â¿¿ who doesn't work because her 3-year-old disabled son recently had surgery â¿¿ have been living here since early December. Like many other storm victims, they can't find an affordable rental. Even if they did find one, they barely have enough money for a security deposit.

On Saturday, they will file down to the lobby along with the other Sandy refugees to learn their fate, as they do every two weeks. Burstein and Ruggiero said hotel staff will read the names of people whose assistance was extended for another two weeks. In the past, some people have been left off the list.

"Can't you let the people know ahead of time so they don't go crazy worrying?" she asked.

People like 68-year-old Janice Yunginger, of Point Pleasant, N.J., are stranded because they're waiting to hear back from their insurance companies.

Yunginger's home was destroyed, and she is still awaiting a final flood insurance estimate. Her hotel assistance ran out Jan. 12. She and her 26-year-old daughter are paying the $450 a week, out of pocket, for a room at the Red Roof Inn in Tinton Falls, N.J.

"I've applied for everything I can apply for, and for some reason they extended some of the people under the temporary shelter program, but not me," Yunginger said.

FEMA officials in both states say they are working with people staying in hotels on a daily basis, trying to resolve the obstacles that are preventing them from finding other housing opportunities.

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