Some of the stranded U.S. tourists and expatriates evacuated from the gulf war zone will be processed through Lindale Junior High in Linthicum.
The unoccupied school building scheduled to reopen as NorthCounty High next September has been chosen as one of seven centers nationwide to process those evacuated from the Middle East, where the State Department estimates between 30,000 and 35,000 Americans remain.
Ninety-two phone lines were installed at the unoccupied schoolhouse yesterday -- the first preparations for the potentially massive evacuation of Americans from the Middle East and Europe. The school would serve as a reception and processing center for those who may need help getting home after the government deposits them at Baltimore-Washington International airport.
"What we're arranging for really runs the gamut of support services, including the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, (banks) offering low-interest loans, travel agents, child care and medical services," said Robert Gould, spokesman for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.
The State Department asked MEMA to coordinate the efforts of five other Maryland agencies that are preparing the center, Gould said. All six agencies will be a meeting at the school today to work out the details.
If the State Department orders U.S. citizens to evacuate -- as it did in Kuwait and Baghdad in recent months -- the federal government will pay for the charter orAir Force flights to the United States, but it won't pay for or arrange transportation to their homes.
The reception centers are provided to help evacuees collect themselves and find a way home, Gould explained.
Anne Arundel County public schools will be the landlord, providing custodians, heat and utilities. The State Department has promised to reimburse the county for all expenses, Assistant Superintendent Ronald Beckett said.
Beckett said the $2 million project to convert Lindale into North County High should not be affected. Only the cafeteria and a "few other rooms" will be involved.
The center will operate as long as events in the war dictate, Gould said.
The state police will provide security at the center.