Some Evacuees Feel Unwelcome

While some evacuees are finding cramped quarters in shelters hard to deal with, the Red Cross is now consolidating shelters and moving evacuees around.

Fifteen evacuees arrived in three cars the day before Katrina hit.

Tamara George and 14 other friends and family members have been staying in Meridian since, until Thursday, when they say they were told the shelter at Central United Methodist Church would be closing.

"We didn't come here by choice. We're just exiting, trying to get as far north as possible, but we're not welcome in Meridian," said George.

Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Red Cross officials. The shelter at Central is indeed closing, along with another at Trinity Presbyterian Church. But that's being done only so those two can be consolidated into a larger shelter at the Frank Cochran Center. The agency says it's a way to consolidate limited resources.

"Our churches have been emergency shelters for two weeks," said Cheri Barry, executive director of the American Red Cross Key Chapter in Meridian. "It's time to start getting back to some norms. Our volunteers are playing out."

Playing out, much like the patience of the thirty or so evacuees still staying in Meridian shelters. The rest have managed to find housing in Meridian or elsewhere.

But George and her crew say they want to get back to Louisiana as quickly as possible, so they don't need long term housing, just a place to lay their heads for few more days.

"We're just stuck. We're just trying to figure out what to do, who can help, and what kind of assistance. We need to get back to Louisiana," said George.

And with the new shelter opening, they have a few more days to regroup and figure out how to do that.


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