Long line for checks remains peaceful

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2005

It might have been the longest line Natchez has seen in decades &045; but it was a line of calm, patient, orderly people who simply needed help.

Red Cross volunteers distributed 2,200 checks Monday, and they expect to write more today as evacuees seek some needed cash to get them through the coming days and weeks away from home.

Our Natchez Police officers had help keeping the peace from Indiana National Guardsmen and Tennessee police officers and sheriff’s deputies, but things went smoothly &045; even from 9 p.m. the night before, when folks started lining up.

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The money Red Cross distributed comes from donations from across the country, as people have opened their hearts and wallets as the nonprofit engages in the largest relief effort in its history. Red Cross has collected more than $500 million so far.

And the labor needed for the massive but swift operation Monday was provided by local volunteers, along with national Red Cross workers who have come here to help manage the relief effort.

Red Cross will continue the distribution today, and volunteers will be at the convention center all week &045; until all of the needs are met.

There was one glitch in the proceedings Monday, according to Red Cross. A few people tried to cheat the system and get more than one check, but Red Cross has issued a warning that anyone who tries to double-dip will be prosecuted.

Still, that one problem could not overshadow the massive relief project. While we wish people did not have to stay in line so long and in such heat, we are glad to see the system worked smoothly.

We’re proud of the way our community has responded, giving help to those who need it, and heartened to see how patient people were as they waited in line.

It’s a credit to the volunteers, to the police and other officers and especially to the people Katrina has hurt the most that everything went so smoothly.