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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 7, 2005

City remains on standby to receive hurricane evacuees

Kansas City, Mo., Emergency Manager D.A. Christian has been notified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that plans to transfer evacuees from Texas to other states have been put on hold at present. FEMA advised that recent assessments have determined that many of the victims prefer to remain in the Texas region as they resolve issues concerning the status of property, employment and the safety of loved ones.

Christian said, however, that additional transfers from New Orleans will continue and that the City is standing by to implement a mass care plan if needed. The City will remain on standby until it is notified directly by FEMA to prepare for arrivals. Meanwhile, the American Red Cross service center at the Gregg-Klice Community Center reports a steady stream of victims who have self-evacuated to the Kansas City area.

By close of business Tuesday, the Red Cross had processed about 330 families at the service center since it opened Sept. 3. Most of the victims are staying with family and friends in the area. The Red Cross is providing basic support at the service center, including food, medicine, and other essential items.

The City’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated at Level I 24 hours-a-day since Sept. 2, to coordinate the City’s hurricane relief efforts. The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency has sent its area coordinator to the City’s Emergency Operations Center to coordinate regional response operations. In other recent efforts:

    Employees in the Health Department's Communicable Disease Prevention and Public Health Preparedness Division are providing assistance with immunizations and volunteer coordination at the Gregg-Klice Community Center. The Health Department has sent alerts to local hospitals and clinics explaining the potential issues that hurricane survivors might face, and has issued a health advisory on illness prevention precautions. The Health Department also is standing by to provide public health assistance to the Gulf Coast area.

    The Kansas City Fire Department has dispatched additional firefighters to the Gulf Coast to serve on teams for FEMA community outreach.

    The City’s Housing Development Division of the City Planning and Development Department is providing referrals to the City’s housing service counseling providers. The division also is evaluating the City’s housing partners’ available housing stock to identify potential long-term housing for hurricane victims. In addition, the division is planning activities for utilization of Housing Choice Vouchers and Tenant Based Rental Assistance which could help those in need of permanent housing. The division also is participating in Mayor Kay Barnes’ plan to provide a minimum of 250 housing units in the Kansas City area beyond transitional housing or emergency shelters.

    The Human Resources Department is determining the number of vacant positions throughout the City for hurricane victims who might wish to seek employment. In addition, the Human Resources Department is working with hurricane relief partners such as the Red Cross to facilitate the intake of application materials, evaluation of information, and job matching.

    The Information Technology Department worked with the Kansas City, Mo., Public Library to extend the hours of the recently installed Internet area in the Gregg-Klice Community Center. This cooperative program provides free Internet access for the public. The hours were extended Sunday to allow victims access to the Internet to try to contact family members. The department also is working with SBC to install two additional telephone lines and four workstations for use by Red Cross staff in the Gregg-Klice Community Center gymnasium.

    The Parks and Recreation Department is working with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to provide bus vouchers for the victims. The Parks and Recreation Department and the transit authority are coordinating with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce to assist with other transportation needs. The Parks and Recreation Department also is providing victims with free 30-day passes to use at any of the City’s 10 community and/or recreation center facilities for exercise and recreational activities.

Hurricane victims also should contact FEMA for assistance at (800) 621-FEMA (3362).

    
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