Mayflower families living in hotels; unsure when or if they'll return home

    12:06 AM, Apr 9, 2013   |    comments
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    MAYFLOWER, Ark. (KTHV) -- Living out of a suitcase, from one hotel room to another--it may be bearable for a few days, but for Mayflower families evacuated after the oil spill, it's getting old.

    Hotel stays are kind of like mini vacations for kids, but for the Bartletts, the fun times are about to run out.

    "It gets pretty boring after awhile," said 11-year-old Kaleb Bartlett. His family's nine day stay at a hotel in Maumelle is far from a vacation.

    "We go swimming a lot. There's not really that much to do," said 16-year-old Raegan Bartlett. Raegan came home from school March 29 to find her street flooded with oil, when she and her family were forced to get out. She called her mom who had just gotten home from work, unaware of what had happened.

    "Thankfully, she was at home already, so she threw some rain boots at me, and I walked across," described Raegan.

    "This has been where we've lived other than this weekend. They were overbooked, so we had to find a different hotel to stay in," said Amber Bartlett.

    Her family of six went from a 2,000 square foot home to sharing two connecting hotel rooms. They've been there a week, but that week could turn into a month.

    "We have soccer Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. Church on Wednesdays, and games on the weekends. We're trying to keep as much familiarity and routine possible for them at this point," explained Amber.

    While Bartlett said Exxon has been as helpful as they can, her family isn't sure if going back home after the oil spill is a good idea.

    "I'm concerned of the long term health effects of oil, especially for my children. I'm an adult, but if I choose to take my children back home am I hurting them at this point?," Amber questioned.

    "I don't know if I'm going to be comfortable back there just because I don't know if fumes got into the insulation or you know, there is just so many things that you may not know about," added Raegan.

    For now, they'll make do with what they have and be thankful that at least they have each other.

    "Homes can be replaced, tangible items but your children, those tangible items cannot be replaced," said Amber.

    Bartlett said an Exxon representative called her earlier Monday to schedule a time to "air out" their home, turn on their air conditioning units, fans, open up the windows and check the air quality in the home. Bartlett said even if the air is safe, she doubts her family will return until all the work is complete.

    Exxon is paying for all the evacuated resident's expenses, including hotel, food and laundry. Bartlett said when she needed to go back home to get spring clothes for the kids, Exxon told her she could buy new ones, and they reimbursed her.

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