Red Cross helps fund 2,200 families

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Red Cross volunteers signed 2,200 relief checks Monday, giving Hurricane Katrina evacuees in the area some much-needed cash as they await their next move.

&uot;It went exactly the way we thought it would,&uot; Red Cross’ Lori Rosen said. &uot;We identified any bottlenecks.&uot;

Waiting in a line that began at the door of the convention center Sunday night and snaked around toward the Adams County Courthouse by 8 a.m., evacuees were served swiftly when the volunteers opened up for business at 9.

Email newsletter signup

Some 300 people were served in the first 35 minutes after the center opened, Rosen said.

Natchez Mayor Phillip West, who worked with the Red Cross on setting up the distribution, said the first day of distribution was a success.

&uot;The distribution went very well today,&uot; West said. &uot;A lot of good planning went into making that happen and I was happy to see it go off.&uot;

Rosen said her only regret is that people waited so long in the heat, especially since Red Cross plans to be at the convention center all week &045; and longer if necessary &045; so that everyone who needs the money receives a relief check.

Natchez police, Mississippi Highway Patrol officers, a SWAT team from Tennessee and National Guard troops from Indiana helped provide security down the long line of people, but there were no incidents reported.

&uot;People knew we were working as fast as we could,&uot; Rosen said.

The money, doled out in graduated sums to household heads according to the number of family members, are intended as a one-time relief check.

And Rosen has a message for anyone who tries to come back tomorrow if they’ve already received a check.

&uot;People that attempt to double-dip or defraud the system will be prosecuted,&uot; Rosen said, noting some people did try to do that Monday. &uot;That’s defrauding the American people who have donated this money to help them.&uot;

Despite the small number of people who tried to double-dip, Rosen said the day was successful.

&uot;The majority are legitimate people who have been victimized by this storm,&uot; she said.

Area banks agreed to cash the checks, and downtown branches were prepared for the influx of people.

AmSouth Bank City President Adrian Sandal said Monday afternoon that the check cashing had been a smooth process. National Guard members provided security at the banks.

&uot;A lot of people opened accounts (with the money from the checks),&uot; Sandel said. &uot;A lot of people realize they’ll be here a long time.&uot;

Rosen credited the local Red Cross chapter and volunteers from Adams County and Concordia Parish for the smooth process Monday.

&uot;It’s an amazing thing that people in this community have pulled together the way they did,&uot; she said.

&uot;It’s not unusual for this town,&uot; Sandel said.