Open to evacuees

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

On Thursday at noon, Columbiana will have increased its population by 86.

Eighty-six evacuees chased from the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina will move into the John E. Jones Exhibition Center. That number may increase as time goes on, according to Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock.

&uot;As of yesterday we also had two large family groups representing 47 individuals that were running out of funds to stay in the motels. Over half of those were already in Shelby County in lodging facilities and they arrived here yesterday just to check on the status,&uot; he said.

Shelby County employees have been working non-stop for several weeks to ready the exhibition center to become a longterm living space for the evacuees.

They put plywood, and finally carpet, on the dirt floors.

Showers were also installed inside the building along with fans and a vinyl area for eating. Air conditioning will be in place later this week.

A nurse’s station has also been set up to see to the medical and mental health needs of those who will reside in the shelter.

Also, according to county officials, computers have been set up inside the building along with a telepone system for outside calling so these evacuees can begin to rebuild their lives.

The American Red Cross will staff the shelter 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To that end, the Red Cross sponsored a training session in Columbiana last Friday night. Attending the training session were 587 volunteers.

&uot;That is absolutely something Shelby County should be proud of,&uot; said Ike Pigott, Red Cross representative. &uot;It says a lot about what this community’s willing to do to help those who are in need.&uot;

Dudchock was not surprised by the large turnout.

&uot;I can’t say we were surprised because when we started this project it has had an immediate and significant outreach and response from our citizens,&uot; he said.

&uot;I told the 86 evacuees that I met with on Monday that where they’re going can be best described as this: People had about three days notice about the Red Cross training. As far as formal trainees, there were 587 and there were close to 1,000 present.

&uot;Evacuees were able to see that they are going somewhere where the people are no different and the treatment will be no different from that that they’ve received from the faith-based shelters.&uot;

Efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina are under way across the county. Monetary donations are being collected through local churches and other organizations including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

Donations hoping to meet basic needs of survivors are also being collected.

u The First Baptist Church of Helena, for instance, collected about $12,000 from its members for the relief effort.

Church officials used the funds to purchase water, clothing, baby products and toilet paper which were delivered to the First Baptist Church of Biloxi, Miss.

The church also delivered 100 tetanus shots for those who are working on cleanup and debris removal.

The church has planned a second trip to Biloxi, Miss., to deliver tarps, first aid kits and cleaning supplies.

u Riverchase Church of Christ had a special collection last Sunday as well, raising $54,500 for disaster relief projects including Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Inc. Some of the funds will be used locally to aid evacuees as well.

In addition, church members are providing bags of necessities including washcloths, hand towels, soap, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, razors, bandages, tissues, socks, a long distance phone card and more.

u Through the United Methodist Committee on Relief, united Methodist churches across the county are collecting flood buckets and health kits. The drop-off point for both is Harpersville United Methodist Church.

They will be collected until the end of the week and delivered soon afterward.

Flood buckets should include a five gallon bucket with a resealable lid, bleach, five scouring pads, sponges, a scrub brush, 18 cleaning towels, liquid laundry detergent, household cleaner, disinfectant soap, clothespins, a clothesline, five dust masks, two pairs of latex gloves, one pair of work gloves, trash bags, insect repellant and air freshener.

The health kits should include a hand towel, a wash cloth, a comb, a nail file or fingernail clippers, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and bandages.

u The Shelby District Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are collecting food and other items at this weekend’s Cub Scout Fishing Rodeo and Family Cookout.

The event has been planned for some time at Oak Mountain State Park but organizers say, &uot;We know this is short notice, but this is a great opportunity and a one-time chance for Cub Packs, Scout Troops and Venturing Crews in the Shelby District to ‘do a good turn’ and help collect food and other items to give to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.&uot;

Items such as bottled water, non-perishable food, canned food, pillows, diapers, bug spray and hygiene products like soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, razors, shaving cream, combs, brushes, Q-tips, wet wipes, bandages and tissues are needed.

They should be delivered to the Tranquility Camping area at Oak Mountain on Sept. 16 from 4-8 p.m. or Sept. 17 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park office near the beach and swimming area.

The items collected will be presented to the Alabaster branch of the Salvation Army.

For information, contact Brian Davidson at

u A number of hurricane evacuees have been set up for longterm shelter at Oak Mountain State Park. Items needed for this effort include camping stoves, fuel, charcoal and starter, flashlights, batteries, lanterns, diapers, towels and washcloths, medicine for children, lawn chairs, plastic cups, paper plates, dishwashing liquid, can drinks, cleaning supplies, ant spray, bug spray, sleeping bags, air mattresses, air pumps, toys for children, health items, prepaid phone cards, blankets, boxes and cereal and underwear among other items.

Those who can donate any of these items should take them to the B-side pavilion at the park or call the campground at 620-2527.

Birmingham South Campground, formerly KOA, has a list of names, ages and sizes of some of those staying at the campground. They have about 10 families, some of which are extended families with as many as 12 members. There are lots of toddlers and preschoolers and also some school-age children. Call Tammy Nabors for more information.

u America’s Thrift Store in Alabaster has been designated as a disaster relief collection center. They are accepting items including bottled water, non-perishable food, clothing and shoes for men, women and children, blankets, bedding, working TVs and radios and small appliances.

Items are transported to the Gulf Coast daily. The store is located on 2nd Street SW in Alabaster.

Other efforts across the county continue. Those who know of these efforts are asked to call the Reporter and provide information.