CAO hopes residents will start engines to help hurricane victims

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

After three weeks of life in Lawrence County, evacuees from Louisiana are still being supported by residents. Now the local Community Action Organization is asking residents to put down their pocketbooks (for the moment) and start their engines.

Dan Palmer, director of housing for CAO, said that his group has been deluged with local generosity, especially from church leaders such as the Rev. Thomas Nau pastor at St. Joseph and St. Lawrence O'Toole Catholic Churches.

&#8221They were one of the first to come through for us,“ Palmer said. &#8221Before they all arrived on that Monday (Sept. 12), (Nau) called us to come to the church basement, and he gave us so much stuff that we were able to stock every apartment with everything you can imagine, from cleaning supplies and cooking utensils to pots and pans.“

Email newsletter signup

More recently, Nau presented Palmer with $300 from students of Catholic Central High School in Steubenville and $2,000 from the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Steubenville to buy washers. The group also agreed Wednesday to donate $6,000 more to the effort.

Other churches have donated a vast amount of supplies, clothing, food and washers and driers.

Things are going so well that Palmer has had to stop accepting clothing donations as they currently have a gymnasium full of garments. He said that families will head to the gym soon to pick out new winter coats.

Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization Assistant Director Ralph Kline agreed that the support has been overwhelming.

&#8221The community outpouring has been phenomenal as far as support,“ Kline said. &#8221The majority of the (evacuees) that we've worked with that have gotten here are adjusting as well as could be, their immediate needs are being taken care of, and I think with the outpouring of the community some of the others beyond their immediate needs are taken care of.“

However, Kline said that one of the major needs not being met is transportation, the lack of which has been a major obstacle for evacuees looking for work in Lawrence County.

&#8221Individuals have either lost their vehicles, and found that they were uninsured or they utilized mass transit in Louisiana,“ Kline said.

Although churches and others have been helping out with the essentials (trips to the grocery store, etc.) Kline said it's vital for the long-term, self-sufficiency of evacuees to have their own rides as they hunt for jobs in the area.

To help alleviate the problem the Ironton Lawrence County CAO is sponsoring a program to facilitate car donation to hurricane victims.

&#8221I don't have an absolute count, but I know there are several that have gone for job interviews, and some that have been hired at various jobs,“ Kline said. &#8221I know we've had employers that have been looking for people for quite some time, and I think they've been able to fill those positions.“

Some vehicles have all ready been donated, a welcome sign for Kline, who sees the vehicles as an essential step in the self-sufficency of the evacuees, something he believes they really desire.

&#8221Generally speaking, these people want to become independent,“ Kline said. &#8221A lot of their first questions are ‘Where can I find work?'“