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Topic 68 of 71: Austin receives Hurricane Katrina evacuees

Mon, Sep 5, 2005 (10:23) | Paul Terry Walhus (terry)
Austin is preparing to receive evacuees from Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.

1 response total.

 Topic 68 of 71 [austin]: Austin receives Hurricane Katrina evacuees
 Response 1 of 1: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Sep  5, 2005 (10:24) * 119 lines 
 
The city of Austin is preparing to immediately house more than 5,000
refugees of Hurricane Katrina.

Upon their arrival, the refugees, mostly from New Orleans, will make their
way through several Austin locations

City officials learned Saturday people won't be arriving at the Delco
Center as planned, but instead will be redirected to the Austin Convention
Center for processing.

Those who are sick will either be sent to Brackenridge Hospital, where 72
beds were made available, or a medical facility being set up at the Palmer
Events Center. Palmer will have 1,800 beds and all kinds of medical care
and services, even hospice care.

Those who are healthy will go to either the Toney Burger Center, which is
expected to reach its capacity of 500 by Friday night. The convention
center is being readied to hold 5,000 people.

"There's no question that Austin is looking at a significant financial
impact with this. We will be canceling conventions Ö there will be a loss
of revenue and direct expenses," Mayor Will Wynn said.

Capital Metro buses will ferry people back and forth from all the shelters
and centers.

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If you want to volunteer to help refugees in Austin, call 211. If you are
a refugee in Austin or if refugees are staying with you call (512)
974-1110 for help. Read the city of Austinís Katrina resource guide at
cityofaustin.org.

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As part of intake processing, refugees will have their pictures taken and
ID badges will be made to help keep track of family members who may be
separated.

The influx of people is expected within the next 24 to 48 hours. The first
planes arrived on Saturday morning.

City staff and relief agencies are working on securing food, water and
prescription medications for the refugees. Immediate plans are being made
to house the refugees for 90 days. At the same time, a long-term plan is
also being made to absorb the people in Austin's community. The immediate
plan is to get people settled into shelters, with the necessities they
need, and then work on finding them jobs, getting their children enrolled
in schools, the mayor said.

So far, Round Rock schools have enrolled 64 new students from Louisiana
and Austin schools have enrolled 19 students.

Staff from the Parks and Recreation Department will be at the shelters to
begin programs and activities for children, City Manager Toby Futrell
said. Donations of toys and books will be needed later, she said.

Various agencies around town are pitching in to make sure the hosting of
Katrina refugees will go smoothly.

The Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services Department is
coordinating these efforts:

The Town Lake Animal Center will manage animal care at the
Toney Burger Center but they will not be able to shelter pets for
evacuees.
WorkSource Austin will assist in identifying temporary
jobs.
Child Inc. will provide childcare assistance.
Other services being provided include nursing, mental
health and special needs services for evacuees at city shelters.

Calls have come in from employers willing to hire workers, Wynn said.

Volunteers will be needed to work at the shelters. Anyone interested in
volunteer should call 211. City employees volunteered to work weekend
shifts at the shelters.

The Austin music community is preparing a major benefit event, Wynn said.

The American Red Cross is not helping people who want to open their homes
to refugees.

If you are a refuge or if you have taken refugees into your home you
should call (512) 974-1110 to get help. That phone line will open at 8
a.m. on Saturday and will be answered 24 hours a day.

Read the city of Austinís Katrina resource guide at cityofaustin.org.

The city is requesting donations of the following items: air mattresses,
cots, folding lawn chairs, wash cloths, towels and anything you can think
that would make the refugees comfortable. A donation center will open on
Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Freescale Campus at 3501 Ed Bluestein Blvd.

Wynn encouraged Austinites to continue donating to the American Red Cross.

"The community has already been generous Ö but we're going to need more,"
Wynn said. "This community is going to respond compassionately and
appropriately to our friends and neighbors in dire need. And we're going
to do everything in our power to make their stay in Austin as good as it
can possibly be."

The city responded quickly to the nation's worst-ever natural disaster
sending Austin Energy linemen, crews and heavy equipment, paramedics,
firefighters, water utility employees along with many other resources to
Louisiana.

While much of the focus is on Austin, other Central Texas cities have
opened shelters as well.

Officials set up a shelter for Katrina evacuees at the Gilmore Community
Center on Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Killeen. They are expecting about
30 people. Nearly 400 people have registered to get help from the Red
Cross in Killeen.

from

http://www.news8austin.com/shared/print/default.asp?ArID=144790


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