KISSIMMEE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Dozens of grateful families now have a free seven-day stay at Kissimmee hotels after getting burned out of their extended stay hotel last Friday.
Nonprofit group Osceola REDI raised more than $20,000 to pay for a place for 47 families to stay. One of those families says they're happy for the help, but unsure what happens next.
Osceola County emergency managers announced late this afternoon that 178 people displaced by Friday’s hotel fire will have a roof over their heads for at least the next week.
“That's been a valiant effort on the part of the hoteliers, Community Hope, and the Red Cross as well,” says Steve Watts, Osceola County Emergency Manager.
He says at least six hotels have made deals with the county to provide a week's worth of rooms for families who lost everything in Friday’s fire at the Unno Boutique Hotel, where they were living as tenants.
The county provided buses from the Center on Aging, where these families had been staying. Some lucky ones had cars, though, like the Pachecos.
“Everybody has been so great. Working, helping us, feeding us, giving us a place to stay,” says Gisela Pacheco, who’d been staying at the Center with her husband, Josh, and their two young sons.
Once again, they loaded their remaining belongings and donated goods into their car.
“Going from excited to kind of mixed emotions that in the back of my mind I'll be counting down the days, like oh my God, today's the second day, the third day, the fourth day,” Gisela says, “where are we going to go after the seventh day?”
The family said a temporary goodbye to their small dogs, and then left with their two young sons for the Super Eight motel in Kissimmee.
For now, they say it's enough while they find something long term. Josh Pacheco says his employer's been supportive, and he's hopeful the Red Cross and local agencies will help them out.
“God has a plan for all of us,” Josh says, “it's just about waiting and seeing, see what happens next, and hopefully it's something good.
Emergency managers say about half of the families will be able to move back into the Unno Hotel where they'd originally been living once the power there comes back on.
The Red Cross and the Osceola County Hope Center say they're working on finding other housing options for the folks who lost everything in the fire.