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FEMA exploring idea of boats to house Sandy victims

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WASHINGTON (CNN/By Todd Sperry) — Hoping to find a solution for New York and New Jersey residents displaced by Superstorm Sandy, the federal government announced Thursday it was looking into the possibility of housing residents on boats.

In a request for information notice posted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, officials said they were looking for input from the maritime industry in the hopes of finding rapid and cost-effective housing options on small boats or similar vessels.

FEMA said the purpose of the request was for market research only and to explore whether the maritime industry could offer viable options for residents who remain homeless.

Officials said the vessels they requested ideally would sleep two to six adults and could be standalone boats or interconnected to create a single dwelling made of multiple units.

As of Wednesday, 473,785 households in New York and New Jersey had applied for disaster relief assistance with FEMA. While not all of the families were requesting housing assistance, officials said they continue to work with state and local officials to help all victims of the deadly storm.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the latest estimates of Sandy-related storm costs in his state were $36.8 billion.

Based on land and aerial assessments, more than 30,000 businesses and homes were destroyed or experienced structural damage, while 42,000 homes were affected in some other way, New Jersey officials said.

Earlier this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters the total cost in his state was $41 billion.

The request for information specifically said the agency isn’t looking for cruise ships as a solution to the crisis caused by the colossal storm that pounded the Northeast last month.

FEMA faced criticism from residents and politicians for its decision to house first responders and emergency personnel on cruise ships docked in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

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