Shelter still needs donations
Money, food, bedding sought for storm refugees 
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Sept. 2, 2005 -- As the first week of post-Katrina disaster recovery draws to an end, Hopkins County and Sulphur Springs emergency management offices, Salvation Army and a large number of volunteers continue working around the clock to help meet the essential needs of a number of refugees.

Sulphur Springs Emergency Management Coordinator Rex Morgan and Hopkins County Salvation Army County Chairman Jo Marie Neal said Friday that the need for donations of money, bedding and non-perishable food continues. The process for receiving donations has been reorganized and requires delivery to the rear of the shelter at Wesley United Methodist rather than the front door.

Non-perishable food donations, however, should be taken to First United Methodist Church, located at 301 Church St.

Along with the need for non-perishable and canned food goods, there is a continued need for bedding, such as blankets and air mattresses. Money is also needed to help cover the costs of operating the emergency shelter.

Donations made to the local effort will remain in Sulphur Springs.

�When people bring in their cash donations, we will ask them how they want the cash to be used,� Morgan explained. �The money does not leave the county, but clothing bought with the money for specific people will go with that person.�

Checks should be made payable to Salvation Army Relief Fund.

No more clothing donations are needed.

Morgan said 35 people are living in the shelter. An additional 30 are still living in local motels but come to the shelter at Wesley United Methodist Church  for meals and a place to stay during the day.

Morgan was meeting with families that were still staying in local inns Friday morning to encourage them to make plans to move to the emergency shelter.

Many of the families who initially sought refuge in hotels have been forced, for financial reasons, to find other places to stay.  Morgan said those still in motels may have to go to another county if the local shelter reaches capacity.

In his morning situation report, Morgan said nine of the evacuees were of school age and that eight have been enrolled in local schools.

School officials from Sulphur Springs Independent School District and other school districts in the county have received the necessary authorizations and paperwork from the state to enable families with school-age children to have them enrolled.

In an effort to introduce the families to Sulphur Springs schools, the athletic department provided tickets and issued invitations to attend Friday night’s varsity football game.

To help refugees find jobs in the area, representatives from the Texas Workforce Commission and Workforce Development Board were meeting at the shelter at midday Friday to provide job listings and information, along with application information for those wanting to find work.

�If anybody has jobs available, if they will just call and give us that information, we can pass that along,� Morgan said. The number is 903-885-3385.

Several of those evacuees have already found work in Sulphur Springs, but more will be needing to find employment.

To further meet needs of the refugees, critical incident stress debriefings are being conducted as needed. For those needing help in dealing with the impact of the disaster, professional counseling is also being made available.

Medical needs of those staying in the shelter are being met through daily visits by at least two local physicians. Paramedics and nurses have also been visiting the shelter to offer help.

Community volunteers have provided assistance to those needing prescriptions filled by providing transportation to pharmacies or by going to the drug stores while the evacuees stay in the shelter working to help their families adjust to the conditions.

Social Security representatives in Greenville were working to get paperwork together Thursday to facilitate receipt of welfare and Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Dr. David Black of Broadway Veterinary Clinic is providing shelter and care for pets the Louisiana residents brought with them.

Federal emergency management officials, as well as Louisiana officials, still have no idea how long it may take for the affected areas to become habitable again. Those forced to leave their homes are also facing the probability that their homes simply no longer exist.

Because of the anticipated extended length of time that may be required before people are allowed to return to what was once their home, city and county emergency management officials have begun to identify potential housing possibilities in the area.

Morgan said the shelter currently has bed space for an additional 215 long-term evacuees. At least 61 were still staying in one motel while a number of other motel rooms are being rented and housing an unknown number of people that will eventually have to utilize the emergency shelter.

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