Monday September 5, 2005
Many Displaced Residents from Gulf Coast May Stay for Weeks, Months
Louisville Metro Government, the Louisville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross and other area agencies will provide shelter and aid for hundreds of displaced residents from the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, Mayor Jerry Abramson said today.
As many as 500 people are expected to be airlifted from the hardest hit areas of the Gulf Coast to the Kentucky Air National Guard hangar at Louisville International Airport beginning in the next 48 hours. The Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing will oversee the transfer.
The Louisville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross has already provided help to more than 600 people who escaped the storm-damaged region on their own in recent days and made their way to Louisville.
“Louisville is a compassionate, caring community that welcomes these people with open arms,” Abramson said. “Until they can return to their hometowns or their families, Louisville will give them a place to call home.”
“Louisville’s emergency response team, headed by the local American Red Cross and Louisville Metro Government, is preparing to provide shelter and help for up to 2,000 displaced residents for an indefinite period of time,” said Brian Quail, chief executive officer of the Louisville Area Red Cross.
Many of the Gulf Coast residents who have been helped so far by Louisville’s Red Cross chapter are living with family and friends in the area, Quail said. The Red Cross is also working with other organizations to provide temporary housing.
Louisville Metro Government has already identified more than 200 apartments, hotel rooms and other housing options for both short-term and long-term stays, Abramson said.
Hurricane Katrina survivors airlifted to Louisville
Commercial airplanes carrying displaced residents from the disaster area are expected to begin arriving at Louisville International Airport as soon as Monday afternoon, said Doug Hamilton, director of the Louisville Metro Emergency Management Agency. The timing will be determined by FEMA, the federal agency coordinating the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people to cities across the country.
Abramson said Louisville volunteered to accept the airlifts of displaced residents after FEMA officials indicated they are not likely to activate Louisville as a National Disaster Medical System site. Last week, Louisville was designated as one of 17 cities with the resources and training to handle patients from hospitals and medical facilities in communities struck by disaster.
The Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing will oversee the transfer of evacuees at their hangar. Medical professionals from University of Louisville Hospital and Louisville Metro EMS will assess people who need medical attention and transport them to one of the 17 area hospitals that are part of the community’s medical disaster network.
Other passengers will be transported by TARC buses and Red Cross vans to the Reception Center being set up at the East Hall of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. Red Cross volunteers today are setting up the center, which will include 250 cots, seating, dining areas, daycare and play areas for children and a TV lounge.
At the center, dozens of Red Cross volunteers will work with families to determine their needs – from mental health counseling to housing.
Employees from Louisville Metro departments will be working at the Reception Center including: Health, Housing, Human Services, Animal Services, EMS and Police. Food, showers, clothing and other basic necessities will be provided.
From the Reception Center, people will be transported to apartments, hotel rooms and other housing units throughout the Louisville area that have been identified for short-term and long-term stays by Louisville Metro Housing, the Housing Authority of Louisville, the Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau and other agencies. Louisville Gas and Electric, the Louisville Water Co. and the Metropolitan Sewer District have agreed to temporarily waive utility charges for the displaced residents.
Later this week, a Family Assistance Center will be created to provide a one-stop location for ongoing needs ranging from food and clothing to drivers’ licenses and job assistance. The location of the center is being determined.
Abramson praised the hundreds of Red Cross volunteers and staff, metro employees and citizens who are doing their part to help the hurricane survivors. “It’s a blessing to have so many people in our hometown and throughout the region willing to give their time, talents and treasure to help others,” he said.
Abramson said the best way that citizens in the community can help the hurricane victims who seek refuge in Louisville is to support the network of agencies that are directly providing food, shelter, clothing and services to people in need.
“Louisville and other communities across America must be prepared to help these displaced residents for months to come,” Abramson said. “Giving your dollars and your support to those agencies that help those in need in Louisville every day will ensure that our community provides the care these people will need indefinitely.”