Massachusetts to set up "village" for Katrina evacs

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Map of US showing Massachusetts

The US state of Massachusetts is turning a portion of Camp Edwards, an active Cape Cod military base, into a "village" for 2,500 evacuees of Hurricane Katrina, as part of Operation Helping Hand.

The temporary shelter on the Massachusetts Military Reservation will have a population the size of Truro, Massachusetts and will include an active mayor and a system of government that will be like a town council

However, the shelter will face security demands different from the fifteen Cape towns because Cape Edwards is an active base used for training exercises. Security will be overseen by the Massachusetts National Guard, with help from the Massachusetts State Police and the County Sheriff's office. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney stressed that he wanted to give it a comfortable, non-hostile atmosphere.

Map of Massachusetts showing Camp Edwards

Upon touching down at Otis Air National Guard Base, Massport officials will issue identification cards, create case files for them and ask the evacuees to provide personal information which will go into to a database to be shared with other states that are taking evacuees.

The agencies that will be on hand are, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. These agencies will coordinate volunteers, who must commit themselves to five days of volunteer efforts, and they must be able to transport themselves to the camp. Romney has asked for donations from the community.

Evacuees will be assigned housing by groups. There could be barracks for single men, another for single women, and then space for elderly and families with children. Visitors will not be allowed.

The school superintendent for the township of Bourne, Ed LaFleur, will work on enrolling the children of evacuees into Cape Cod schools. Romney met yesterday with leaders of the Blake Churches Alliance who will make available chaplains and counselors for the evacuees.

Romney spent Monday night asking for the State House to pass a $25 million emergency spending bill to pay the initial costs of the facility.

The arrival time of the evacuees has been postponed, for unknown reasons.