South Carolinians prepare for those evacuated from Hurricane Katrina - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

South Carolinians prepare for those evacuated from Hurricane Katrina

(Columbia-AP) September 6, 2005 - South Carolinians are preparing for evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.

More than 1,000 could arrive by plane over the next few days. And the Columbia Airport is getting ready to greet them.

The triage center set-up can accommodate 2,500. Victims with medical needs will be assessed, showered and sent by bus to one of 25 hospitals opened to help.

Officials say they don't know when the first medical evacuees will arrive. They expect to get a three hour warning when a plane is on the way to Columbia.

Already the Red Cross has helped more than 400 families who have come in by car. The city has set up a reception center, set aside 700 hotel rooms and has asked the local churches to help out. Sixth District Congressman Jim Clyburn says he doesn't want to open shelters because the families have been through enough trauma.

Tuesday afternoon at Columbia's reception center, the former Naval Reserve Center on the USC campus, food was being delivered, volunteers trained. There, the evacuees will register with FEMA and get information on clothes, food and shelter.

Ike Mccleese of the Chamber of Commerce says, "What we want to do is get them in the center as quickly as possible understanding what they've been through in the past six or seven days." 

Tuesday morning, the mayor met with more than 50 pastors, asking local churches to get involved. First Baptist is preparing most of the meals for volunteers and evacuees, "The mission has been brought to our doorstep. We can help people. That's what our call is."

Tenenbaum says of the local response, "We are overwhelmed. Everybody wants to do something."

The city is advising against taking people in since there is no screening process for that. McCleese warns, "In among the really good people, there are people who will do not have good intent."

Instead, officials are asking for volunteers to guide evacuees through the city, become an "aunt" or "uncle" and welcome those who've lost everything. The city is holding two sessions Wednesday for people who want to take part in Columbia's Adopt A Family program at the Naval Reserve Center on Pickens Street near Maxcy Gregg Park.

At the state level, National Guard Troops have been deployed to the Gulf Coast. MSNBC caught some South Carolina DNR law enforcement officers on film helping in the region as well. 

Several police officers and firefighters are there as well, including five Newberry County officers who left sunday for Gulfport, Mississippi. Richie Moore, Daniel Floyd, Tony Eigner, Ezra Epps and John Frampton will be deployed for 14 days.

Tuesday morning, the governor asked for up to $5 million in federal assistance. And when asked what his family is doing in the relief effort, Sanford said, "We loaded up all of our stuff and sent it to the Salvation Army, next time, the Red Cross," whose volunteers are ready and waiting for more evacuees to arrive.

He says 180 medical evacuees landed in Charleston Tuesday afternoon.

Reported by Heather Brown

Updated 7:50pm by Bryce Mursch

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