Colorado Springs closes doors to Hurricane Katrina evacuees
COLORADO SPRINGS ” City officials declared they’ve done enough for hurricane evacuees and have drafted a plan to let a faith-based charity and the NAACP take over relief efforts.
While no one will be denied social services, officials have asked a man who has bused in loads of evacuees to start taking them elsewhere, as officials fear social services will soon be stretched too thin.
“I think we have every reason in the world as a community to be proud of how compassionate we’ve been,” City Manager Lorna Karma said Monday. “But I think we need to say, ‘No more.’ Or we need to drive them to Denver.”
Norman Vaux of Canon City, who has arranged transportation for some 500 evacuees to Colorado Springs, said a bus that left Baton Rouge, La., with 49 passengers likely will be the final run.
At least 2,000 people have registered for aid in Colorado through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and a shelter has been set up at the former Lowry Air Force Base near Denver.
By the end of the week, Colorado Springs will have processed more than 1,600 evacuees, helping them to find shelter, jobs and cars, Deputy Fire Chief Steven Cox said. It originally offered to aid 1,500 of them.
Some Council members said they were reluctant to suggest evacuees go elsewhere in Colorado; Councilwoman Margaret Radford said she didn’t want the city to be known as the town that said, “No.”
Some apartment owners have provided units to evacuees, despite a three-month wait for payment from the FEMA, but officials are having trouble finding permanent homes for about 100 families living in motels.
Jerry Smith, CEO of Pikes Peak United Way, said he is getting more funding requests from groups that were challenged before Hurricane Katrina, and that life could be tough on newcomers if jobs don’t materialize and groups can’t help them.
Fire Marshal Brett Lacey has drafted a plan to let Lutheran Family Services and the NAACP take over relief operations.
The City Council will also discuss a time frame for closing a center where evacuees could sign up for help from 38 government and private agencies. The city has spent more than $85,000 operating the center, Cox said.
Colorado Springs has given a greater portion of its resources to hurricane relief efforts than most places its size, City Councilman Richard Skorman said.
Summit Daily News, Summit County, Colorado
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