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HOUSTON (AP)

Texas officials eye cruise ship as Ike shelter

An aging cruise ship that Texas officials want to use as temporary housing for displaced victims of Hurricane Ike moved offshore today.

There, the 1950s-era Regal Empress will await word on whether the federal government will pay for the plan. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency says it hasn't received any formal request for funds linked to the ship. FEMA officials in Austin say a state agency didn't follow protocol by sending a letter to Harvey Johnson. He's FEMA's deputy administrator and chief operating officer.

A FEMA spokesman says such a request must go through the state's department of emergency management and be made on a specific form.

The Houston Chronicle first reported the state's request today.

The Regal Empress featured up to 1,200 available beds. Its crew will wait until Monday to learn if the ship's next destination is Port Orange, about 100 miles up the Texas coast, or the Bahamas. There, it would resume round-trip cruises to Florida in December.

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