No hurricane victims have moved into Baltimore's 500-bed shelter

Some families displaced by storm have come to city to stay with relatives

Katrina's Wake

September 07, 2005|By John Fritze | John Fritze,SUN STAFF

Hundreds of beds in the Baltimore area have been readied for families fleeing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but it was unclear yesterday whether anyone would take the region up on its offer.

Reggie Scriber, Baltimore's deputy commissioner of housing, said 500 beds had been set up at the Clarence H. Du Burns Arena but that no victims of the storm have arrived seeking shelter.

About 45 affected families have traveled to Baltimore, Scriber said, and are staying with relatives.

"We don't know what we're getting," Scriber said.

Along with other cities across the country, Baltimore has offered to make 1,000 beds available for families fleeing the Gulf Coast.

If families do arrive, they will be sent to live with hundreds of residents who have agreed to take them in, Scriber said.

Bottled water

Mayor Martin O'Malley, meanwhile, called on residents to drop off bottled water at city fire stations and urged anyone willing to house a displaced family to call the city's housing department at 410-396-1977.

"I feel a heck of a lot better doing something than sitting there watching TV and doing nothing," O'Malley said.

Baltimore's effort is part of a larger push by state and local officials to help the region.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. authorized deployment of additional Maryland National Guard troops, bringing the total Guard force working on disaster relief to 320, said Maryland Army National Guard spokesman Maj. Charles Kohler.

Money donated

Representatives of dozens of Maryland churches met in Capitol Heights yesterday with Ehrlich, Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson and other officials to coordinate the donation of money collected in the pews in recent days.

Johnson's chief of staff, Michael D. Herman, said local ministers collected prodigiously during Sunday's services and agreed at the meeting to funnel contributions through the American Red Cross.

But the ministers and government officials also discussed ways to help the approximately 200 storm victims who have gone to Prince George's to stay with relatives and friends, Herman said.

"We are all working in concert, recognizing that our combined effort is really going to be critical if we're going to be able to satisfactorily integrate these people with dignity and respect," Herman said.

At a news conference in Baltimore yesterday, O'Malley said Maryland and Louisiana leaders had signed an Emergency Management Assistance Compact, an agreement that allows states to offer assistance to other states and sets up a reimbursement process.

O'Malley said the city is keeping track of the expense of a convoy that began work on the outskirts of New Orleans yesterday and expects to be reimbursed by the federal government.

"There is a tremendous cost associated with all of this but it is not anywhere near the cost of doing nothing," he said.

Sun staff writer Andrew A. Green contributed to this article.

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