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Evacuees offerd shelter in W.Va.

September 05, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

Several hundred Hurricane Katrina evacuees will find lodging at a military training site near Morgantown in Preston County, W.Va., according to a state emergency management officer.

"We have somewhere around 600 evacuees we are bringing here," said Clay Carney, operations officer for the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Refugees began arriving from the New Orleans area about 11 p.m. Saturday, Carney said. He said military medical personnel and American Red Cross workers would process the arrivals before the group was sent in buses to Camp Dawson.

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According to Wing Commander Col. Bill Gain, about 17 members of the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard traveled on each of two flights to New Orleans on Saturday, and one returned with a group of about 80 refugees.

Two flights went out Friday, Gain said. Two flights also were slated Sunday, and additional relief missions might be scheduled later this week, Gain said.

U.S. Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration rules limit how much time crews can spend working if they plan to be in the air, Gain said.

Gain said crews on Saturday asked for and received permission to work 18 hours. They flew into the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, which has become a field hospital, staging area and shelter for thousands of evacuees, and they dropped off supplies, including blankets and water.

"It makes for a long day, and it gets to the point where it's unsafe," Gain said of the regulations, which normally limit flight crews to 16-hour working days.

According to Gain, other members of the unit also have been deployed to the area. Six medical personnel went to San Antonio, while 41 airmen left Sunday morning from Charleston, W.Va., as part of 62-vehicle convoy, Gain said.

"They are planning to stay at least two weeks," Gain said.

According to Carney, Camp Dawson can accommodate about 600 evacuees.

While plans call for the most seriously injured and ill to be evacuated elsewhere, Carney said some of the evacuees processed already in West Virginia have medical issues.

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