Operation Katrina Homecare Responds

New Orleans resident Bisha Scott says she is frustrated about her efforts to get back on her feet after losing almost everything during Hurricane Katrina.

Thankful for an apartment, which she has been able to move into in the town of York, Ala., Scott says she's now concerned about how to pay for it. Seven weeks after the storm, Scott says she is yet to receive any financial assistance from FEMA.

She's not alone. Sumter County Emergency Management Director Margaret Bishop says this is the case for many of those displaced. The question is, why the holdup?

"I have no clue. I couldn't begin to address that," said Bishop.

With so many people seeking assistance, address changes seem to be at least part of the problem. One evacuee says for her the delay in funds is not only a concern but a matter of life and death.

"I have to travel 36 miles to the nearest city in order to get my medicine,” said New Orleans evacuee Paulette Milton, a heart patient. "I don't have money for gas, which I'm running out of money, because I'm not getting any of my income. What am I going to do for medicine when I'm sick and I'm down and my children are stuck out?"

Since the storm, a volunteer group known as Operation Katrina Care has not only been assisting evacuees such as Paulette Milton, who's now awaiting a heart transplant, but all in need.

One of the biggest problems now is helping evacuees get proper identification. Some evacuees say they have been told that it could be another month before they get a copy of their birth certificates. Organizers say this is creating some major problems.

"To get employment they need some forms of I.D. To go to the bank, they need some forms of I.D. and they're not getting it," said Cynthia Brooks of Operation Katrina Homecare.

Meanwhile, with anywhere from 60 to 100 evacuees believed to still be in Sumter County, Operation Katrina Homecare officials say they have no plans to pack up on the job. They say they will continue their efforts as long as needed.


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