Governor Warner announces VA is sheltering or preparing to shelter more than 4,000 evacuees
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Office of the Governor - Mark R. Warner, Governor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 6, 2005
Contact: Kevin Hall
Phone: (804) 225-4260
Cell Phone: (804) 393-9406
GOVERNOR WARNER ANNOUNCES VIRGINIA IS SHELTERING OR PREPARING TO SHELTER MORE THAN 4,000 EVACUEES ~That number expected to grow, as Virginia aims to provide longer-term options
RICHMOND - Governor Mark R. Warner today announced that Virginia has identified sheltering space around the Commonwealth for at least 4,000 evacuees, and that number is expected to grow as more offers of assistance are inventoried and made public by the end of the week.
"We already have at least 1,000 people in the Commonwealth who have been displaced by this enormous disaster," said Governor Warner. "But state agencies, faith and charitable organizations, local governments, groups and individuals are offering housing across Virginia in groups large and small. Hurricane Katrina has caused the largest displacement of American citizens since the Great Depression and Virginians want to do their part to assist."
"We know at this point in the disaster that longer term solutions must be offered than simply a cot in a convention center," said the Governor. "Virginians want to help - and it's our challenge to get the folks in need to the right intermediary home as quickly and safely as possible. They need to recover and stabilize before they can begin to sort out their lives."
* Virginia's National Guard facility Fort Pickett near Blackstone will serve as an intake/recovery center and short-term shelter for 1,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees at a time. It will be up and running within 48 hours, ready to feed and shelter. The Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center will shelter 400 people in Blackstone.
The American Red Cross will be the lead agency running day-to-day operations at Fort Pickett, with assistance from the Virginia National Guard. The United Methodist Church will operate its Blackstone facility with significant state and local support. Virginia will work directly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state officials from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to direct evacuees to the Blackstone region to receive shelter and support at Fort Pickett and VUMAC. The Department of Social Services is maintaining a database of this information.
"The members of the Virginia United Methodist Church are pleased to open our hearts and our facilities to help these families displaced by Hurricane Katrina," said Bishop Charlene Kammerer. "With the massive need, we are happy to respond in any waywe can."
The 4-H, working with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, has offered to house 700 people in the coming weeks at its centers in Abingdon, Smith Mountain Lake, and Holiday Lake.
The Baptist General Association of Virginia and its 1,400 member churches are offering to house approximately 500 people through church camps and individual homes throughout Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Social Services has received offers to shelter 227 in churches and 116 in individual homes through its faith-based organizations hotline.
Virginia's independent colleges, through the Council on Independent Colleges in Virginia, have offered housing for 100 people.
Virginia's other public and private institutions of higher education are taking in displaced students already.
Faith leaders from every denomination and religion are still surveying their members and coordinating through the Virginia Department of Social Services faith-based hotline to make specific offers of assistance.
Additional outreach to the hospitality industry in Virginia is expected to yield more offers of assistance.
Governor Warner has mobilized a significant number of state agencies to contribute to the intake facility at Fort Pickett and VUMAC. The Governor has asked Virginia Health and Human Services Secretary Jane Woods to personally oversee these services, creating a one-stop shop of benefits and services at the facilities. The following state agencies are involved:
- The Department of Social Services will be the lead agency and have representatives onsite for coordinating human services benefits and other state services.
- Housing assistance will be available onsite from the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Housing Development Authority.
- The Department of Education will be responsible for working with a range of local school divisions from across the region in providing onsite education and group program activities for children, including preschool activities.
- The Red Cross and Virginia Department of Emergency Management will serve as lead agencies (working with Social Services) in helping coordinate short-term disaster relief benefits and federal benefits on site as well as long-term case management.
- Virginia State Police will work with the National Guard and local law enforcement to provide security on-site at both facilities.
- The Virginia Department of Health will coordinate onsite health services, working with nearby hospitals.