Katrina Victims Coming to Charles County; Citizen Donations Needed

County Commissioners Reactivate Disaster Fund to Help Hurricane Katrina Victims in County

The Charles County Commissioners released the following statement after a special session on September 8, 2005, to discuss the County's plan to assist Katrina evacuees:

Charles County is a compassionate community. We have experienced the devastation of a natural disaster first hand, and we have experienced the enormous generosity of our friends, neighbors and strangers during our time of need.

It is our turn now. Our turn to pass on the generosity and assistance that we experienced. In 2002, we, the Charles County Commissioners, established a Charles County Disaster Relief fund for victims of the natural disasters in Charles County. In response to Hurricane Katrina and the arrival of Hurricane victims in Charles County, we intend to allocate $25,000 for this fund. Currently we have a balance of $5,998 remaining in the fund.

We are partnering with the Waldorf Jaycees and the Chamber of Commerce to raise additional funds. We are confident that with their assistance and the support of the generous citizens of Charles County, the fund will grow to the level necessary to support the needs today and in the coming months.

We urge citizens to support this fund and we want to explain to you why we are taking this step, how we intend to provide services to victims who are re-located to Charles County, and why this so important.

We understand that 27 children, Katrina victims, have been registered in our local schools. We have reports that our local charities are receiving requests for services, housing, shelter and clothing. Our United Way Executive Director has indicated that her member agencies are already feeling the pinch as donations that would normally come their way are diverted to the Katrina relief efforts, while at the same time they are gearing up to provide services to Katrina victims who present themselves.

The Commissioners want to ensure that Katrina victims are welcomed into our County and receive the highest level of services, compassion and assistance possible. At the same time, we want to support our local charities, Department of Social Services, Department of Community Services and local churches to ensure that these already stretched agencies receive the support they need to do their jobs.

We therefore, will use the local Charles County Disaster Relief Fund to provide services to bona-fide Katrina Victims who present themselves for services. We are establishing a central clearing location within the Charles County Department of Social Services. In this way local charities and churches can direct victims to this central point where information and needs will be identified and tracked to ensure that services are delivered in an efficient and sensible manner.

We will be working closely with the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) few days to refine the procedure and our intent is to support our local charities, agencies and churches as we open our doors and our hearts (and our wallets) to the victims of this horrible disaster. The LEPC is comprised of public agencies, private and non-profit organizations who meet regularly to prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters as part of the County's comprehensive emergency preparedness planning. In addition, we ask for your support of upcoming special events and fund raisers that will be sponsored by the Waldorf Jaycees and the Chamber of Commerce to support this important initiative.

Again, we have personally experienced the devastation, and the initial sense of helplessness and hopelessness associated with a natural disaster. What we experienced pales in comparison to what our friends on the Gulf Coast have experienced. We ask you to support this fund, we ask individual groups to join with us so we can maximize efforts to help those in need.

And finally, on behalf of the citizens of Charles County we want the citizens of the Gulf Coast to know that our hearts and prayers are with them and soon they will know first hand just how wonderfully generous Charles County citizens really are.

How to Help Katrina Victims in Charles County

The Charles County Commissioners wish to remind our citizens that they can assist Hurricane Katrina Victims is by sending monetary donations or requested supplies to official agencies and organizations authorized to provide emergency assistance, or they may send donations to the Charles County Disaster Relief Fund (CCDRF), Charles County Government Building, P.O. Box 2150, La Plata, Maryland 20646, which will be used to help Katrina evacuees who have come to our County and the local human service agencies and organizations that will be assisting them. The process for application for funding will be forthcoming.

A fund-raiser to support the CCDRF is planned at the Waldorf Jaycees Center on Wednesday, October 19. Additional details will be announced at a later date.

The Charles County Department of Social Services will serve as the clearinghouse for Katrina victims who come or are already in the County and need assistance with housing, transportation, health services, jobs, schools, food, clothing, and other supplies. The number to call for this service is 301-392-6888. Katrina victims are also reminded that they need to register with FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) for assistance as well by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

The Charles County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) has begun working on the protocols for tracking and providing services and information to Katrina victims who have come and will be coming to Charles County. Among the Committee members are: the Charles County Sheriff's Office, the United Way of Charles County, the Health Department of Charles County, the Department of Social Services, the divisions of the Charles County Department of Emergency Services, the Chamber of Commerce, other Charles County Government Departments including the County Administrator's Office, Information Technology, Planning and Growth Management, Community Services, the Southern Maryland Chapter of the American Red Cross, Civista Medical Center, Fire and EMS agencies, and the Town of Indian Head, among others.

Before Katrina evacuees arrived in Charles County, the Director of the County's Department of Emergency Services, and the Chief of Animal Control Services, were deployed to Jackson, Mississippi, to provide logistics support and handle animal control issues there. Charles County has been automatically aware of needs assessments and requests since the County is part of the national emergency evacuations, response, and communication network and control.

During its meeting, the LEPC has learned that as of September 9, 2005:

* 27 children are in the public school system;

* the local American Cross has seen 46 families ranging in size from 2 to 17 members;

* the Health Department has three active families it has been assisting in addition to providing inoculations to individuals who have been deployed by their employer to assist in the disaster;

* the Department of Community Services has provided transportation assistance for a dialysis patient and senior citizens.

Information will be provided as the situation unfolds.

For additional information for other agencies accepting donations, supplies, or volunteer assistance, please go to the following web site: http://www.marylandcares.us/.

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