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No room at the inn for New Orleans dog search team

From Sean Callebs
CNN

Correction

In an earlier version of this story, CNN reported that Louisiana had a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring the dog teams to New Orleans. This was not the case, though both the state and FEMA continue to work together to aid the recovery efforts.

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NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- One of three canine search-and-rescue teams trained to look for bodies left by Hurricane Katrina plans to leave New Orleans after just a few days on the job, because there won't be a hotel room to stay in, the men said Wednesday.

Game wardens Wayde Carter and Roger Guay said Louisiana apparently didn't make the proper arrangements with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to guarantee them housing after Thursday night, and their supervisor, Maj. Greg Sanborn, has called them back to Maine.

The wardens were to stay in New Orleans until March 21.

Carter and Guay, on loan from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, arrived in Louisiana from Maine late last week.

On Sunday, their search dogs led firefighters to a man's body in the attic of a house in the flood-swept Lakeview neighborhood. It was the first such discovery in five days of a new hunt for victims.

Under the contract that brought them to Louisiana, the search teams also were to have access to a veterinarian in case their dogs were injured. That promise hasn't been kept, either, Carter and Guay told CNN.

They said Louisiana was to be reimbursed by FEMA for the cost of their housing at the Doubletree Inn and other expenses.

According to FEMA spokeswoman Nicol Andrews, the agency has paid for a block of rooms at the hotel, and she promised to follow up on the men's dilemma Thursday.

Carter and Guay said that Tuesday night, a FEMA representative greeted them at the hotel with a disclosure form asking them to identify themselves as long-term evacuees needing financial assistance; the men said they refused.

A canine team from south Georgia also may leave New Orleans. The third team, from Missouri, which is coordinating the other rescue efforts, has been in the city for a longer period and, apparently, has no housing issue.

Louisiana Medical Examiner Dr. Louis Cataldie said he is working to try to obtain accommodations for the men.

Authorities have recovered more than 1,100 bodies in Louisiana since the Aug. 29 storm. Another 221 deaths were reported in Mississippi, where Katrina blasted coastal towns when it hit near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line, and 15 deaths were reported in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

"This is just another storm in the lives of the families who are missing loved ones," City Council President Oliver Thomas said Wednesday night of the housing snafu. "It's unbelievable."

"It's not that many dogs, it's not that many people," he said. "It's not that much money."

Unless more bodies are found, he said, some families "will never see any closure from this" disaster, Thomas said.

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