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September 07, 2005 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-07

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - 5A

State prepares for flood of evacuees

LANSING (AP) - Gov. Jenni-
fer Granholm met with Hurricane
Katrina victims yesterday at Fort
Custer Training Center near Battle
Creek as the center readied for the
possible arrival of hundreds more
"Many of them had not had a
shower for eight days. They wanted
to wash their hair, they wanted to
sleep," Granholm said of the first
refugees to come off jet planes Mon-
day. "Many of them went right to the
telephones" to try to connect with
loved ones they left behind.
Those escaping Katrina's after-
-math will spend three to five days at
the Army training center before being
moved into more permanent housing
in communities across the state.
Although the governor said sev-.
eral children arrived without adult
relatives, Fort Custer spokesman
Capt. Aaron Jenkins said all 25 of
the children who arrived Monday
were with at least one parent.
Many of those who got off the
planes Monday had been plucked
from rooftops in flooded . New
Orleans and arrived "with just a
Rite-Aid bag with all of their world-
ly possessions," the governor told

reporters yesterday during a news
conference. She added that many had
no idea they were headed to Michi-
gan when they boarded the planes.
"When they got off, we had to
give them Michigan maps - some
of them very surprised that they
were so far away" from their homes,
she said.
Sir Anthony Brooks, a 19-year-old
singer and drummer, saw dead bod-
ies floating in New Orleans's flooded
streets before he left the devastat-
ed city. He said he was extremely
impressed with Granholm coming to
speak to the evacuees and the treat-
ment he'd gotten at Fort Custer.
"I'm so thankful for all this,"
he said of the food, water, showers
and other basics the refugees were
offered after they'd arrived. "I'm
going to stay here (in Michigan). I'm
going to go to school (college) and
do the right thing."
Despite being 1,000 miles from
her New Orleans home, Claudette
Brooks said settling anywhere would
be fine with her as long as she's
with her children. She doesn't know
where her 9-, 12- and 19-year-old
children are at the moment, although
she has heard they're safe with other

"They're constantly on my mind,"
said Brooks, 38. "I'm always dream-
ing of them. But when I wake up,
they're not there."
All of those on Monday's planes
were screened by medical workers
for infectious diseases and chronic
diseases, said state Community
Health director Janet Olszewski.
Some had to be hospitalized, but it
was for chronic disease, not any-
thing related to the hurricane, she
said. Most of the other health prob-
lems were wounds that didn't need
major care.
With so few children arriving
from the stricken area so far, Gra-
nholm said she doesn't know how
many displacedstudents may need to
enroll in Michigan schools. She also
doesn't know yet how many refugees
the Federal Emergency Management
Agency will send.
She's working with mayors and
county governments to find places
for people to stay for up to nine
months and with faith-based and
community groups to connect the
refugees with people who can sup-
port them as they get used to living
in a new place.

The governor said she is taking
FEMA at its word that it will reim-
burse the state dollar-for-dollar for
any bills relating to education, medi-
cal care, housing, food stamps and
other needs.
Camp Grayling in the northern
Lower Peninsula also may be a desti-
nation for refugees, since it can take
as many as 7,000 people for a short
time until they are moved to more
permanent housing, Granholm said.
But much of Camp Grayling's hous-
ing isn't heated, so it will be used
only until the weather turns cold.
Noting that the evacuees are from
the much-warmer South, the gover-
nor said that "we want to make sure
they experience Michigan winter in
the gentlest way," not shivering in
unheated housing.
The governor continued to urge
people who want to donate goods
or volunteer their skills or homes
to the disaster effort to contact the
state hot line. She again urged peo-
ple not to head down on their own
or send goods down on their own.
She said FEMA is letting state offi-
cials know what it needs and will
not reimburse the state for services
or goods it hasn't requested.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm discusses the kitchen facilities at the Fort Custer
Training Center during a tour of a building that will house evacuees.

starts for
(AP) - Tyrienisha Smith opened her
new Sponge Bob backpack and pulled
out her school supplies one by one.
The 10-year-old laid folders and
loose-leaf paper on the floor. She
held up two boxes of crayons, col-
ored pencils, a purple ruler, glue and
'Finally, she placed pens and pen-
cils in a pink pencil box.
She's ready for fifth grade.
But Tyrienisha won't be going back
to her own school.
She's one of the young Hurricane
Katrina victims from New Orleans
getting ready to start school in Michi-
gan. Her parents say her school prob-
ably is under water along with most
of the city.
"I'm excited for going back to
school;" she said.
But there is one thing that makes
her sad: "I really miss my friends."
Tyrienisha and several other young-
sters registered for school yesterday
in a conference room at the Best
Western Sterling Inn, the suburban
Detroit hotel that took their families
in when they arrived last week.
Warren Consolidated School Dis-
trict officials gave them supplies,
found slots for them in classrooms
and arranged for ,busing and free or
reduced-price lunches. They start
class today.
Tyrienisha said she also has new
school clothes.
She showed off silver sneakers
with a pink Nike Swoosh.
"These are the shoes I'm gonna be
wearing to school," she said.
Her father, Sterling Adams, said
he's pleased to see Tyrienisha and
his three other children heading
back to school.
"As long as they're getting their
education, it doesn't matter where
they're at," he said. "We could be
in Timbuktu as long as they're in
The additional students shouldn't
put a strain on the Warren Consoli-
dated district, but that could change
* as more evacuees enter the state, said
Dr. William Kiefer, the district's
associate superintendent of adminis-
trative services.
He said the district of 15,400 stu-
dents could accept 200 to 300 new
students without having to hire addi-
tional teachers.
He said state aid will provide fund-
ing for any, new students. However,
districts across the state could see
an impact if there is a large influx of
new students, Kiefer said.
Such an increase could mean that
the amount each district receives per
pupil could go down slightly, Kiefer
said, perhaps by $10 or $15 per stu-
dent if the state gets the 10,000 evac-
uees it is equipped to take.
"But it's a small price to pay I
think," he said. "This is a national
emergency. I can't imagine not doing
everything we can.'a
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has said
she expects the Federal Emergency
A n .o r A o n 4. r i k i n



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