OLYMPIA – Refugees displaced by Hurricane Katrina could be sent to Washington state later this month, but those plans are not firm, Gov. Christine Gregoire said Thursday.
The most recent information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is that refugees could come to Washington sometime after Sept. 14, Gregoire said, adding that date is not firm.
Washington officials had offered to shelter as many as 2,000 Katrina refugees starting this week, but Gregoire said Wednesday that she had been told the state likely wouldn’t be a site for mass relocations.
Gregoire said state emergency planners have narrowed the list of possible sites for housing Katrina refugees if they do arrive.
“I am pleased that it looks like there may be a way for our state to assist a number of evacuees,” she said.
Washington was included in a national disaster declaration approved Wednesday by President Bush. The order allows the state to receive federal money for refugee relief efforts.
The American Red Cross is reporting about 55 cases of hurricane refugees asking for assistance around Washington state. Red Cross officials have said many of them presumably were drawn to the state by ties with friends or family.
Meanwhile, some 90 members of the Washington Army and Air National Guard have begun helping Louisiana Guard members to coordinate air traffic in the hurricane-hit region.
The 66th Aviation Brigade’s task force is at Naval Air Station New Orleans, which is being used as a staging base.
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