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The Hornbeck Offshore Services ACHIEVER, a 430 foot vessel with berthing for 267 people, a HOS MPSV Flotel is docked in downtown Baton Rouge.

Advocate Staff Photo by PATRICK DENNIS

The mayor or Port Arthur, Texas, has abandoned a plan to use barges to temporarily house 600 flood victims, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Mayor Derrick Freeman described the housing situation as "dire" with hundreds of residents in shelters in Port Arthur and around the state. An estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people are living in homes damaged by flooding, Freeman said.

Freeman told the Journal he had planned to use two of an unnamed private company's barges for temporary housing. The barges, located in Louisiana, would be moved to Port Arthur. But the flood evacuees are being housed in air-conditioned tents brought in by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The change in plans appears similar to the "flotels" that Covington-based Hornbeck Offshore Services brought to the Baton Rouge after FEMA asked the U.S. Maritime Administration about using passenger vessels as temporary housing for flood relief workers. 

The company's ships have been used in disaster areas in the past, including after Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Company officials thought the vessels would be needed in Baton Rouge, but the floating housing remained vacant for nearly two weeks and Hornbeck moved the vessels back into commercial use.