• 72°

CAO plan to relocate evacuees hits roadblock

Some New Orleans-area residents may have a somewhat longer wait before they can relocate to the Buckeye State.

The Lawrence County Community Action Organization had already secured 96 total beds in nursing homes and area housing for those left without shelter by Hurricane Katrina.

Unfortunately, with little ability to do on-site prescreening, finding 96 people to fill those beds has proved to be a bit more difficult than CAO Executive Director D.R. Gossett expected.

"We need some logistical support ahead of time and we kept pushing for that all week, and we got 'Well we're just not ready to do that,' or 'People don't want to come,'" Gossett said. "But we've got Red Cross site directors that they've got families willing to go to Ohio or anywhere else where they can get a food, a roof over their head and a bed to lie in."

What makes this waiting game more difficult are the resources that Gossett has waiting for his word to go, namely six buses, 20 volunteers, three physicians and 12 EMTs.

"I'm not going to commission all these resources and take them down there, I'm not going to pull up in Louisiana and yell, 'Hey folks, come over here we want to talk to you,'" Gossett said. "We don't want to just herd people in like cattle before they've had an opportunity to figure out if that really works for them."

Currently, the CAO is asking local political leaders to ask FEMA for help in the initial prescreening phase, though Gossett fears they may have too much on their plate to give the CAO the help they need before their volunteers must disperse.

"There's all this generosity, and some of these things are time-sensitive, people's lives eventually have to start back up, and they can't have an indefinite waiting period," Gossett said.

The director said he hopes to hear something today, but in the meantime, the CAO is still accepting donations for hurricane victims at its Ironton office. The delay in relocation will not affect the effort to donate supplies to survivors.