Red Cross consolidating residents at churches into Steckler

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 26, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; The Natchez- Adams County chapter of the Red Cross will be consolidating shelters as of today.

Residents at the Assumption Catholic Church and First Baptist Church shelters will be consolidated into the Steckler Multipurpose Center, a move made to better serve residents, the Red Cross said.

&uot;It creates a more efficient situation for residents and the Red Cross,&uot; shelters coordinator Lynda Hill said.

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Concordia Parish shelters were consolidated last week. Shelters at First Baptist Church, Ferriday and First Baptist Church, Vidalia, which was not a Red Cross shelter, were both closed. Evacuees were moved into the shelter at the Concordia Parish Community Center, which had 59 evacuees Tuesday,

up from a low of 30 Friday.

But some residents of the two Natchez shelters were less than enthusiastic.

&uot;People moving from one shelter to another, people want somewhere to stay,&uot; Stephanie Gilmore said. &uot;I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s like a war game and I don’t want to play.&uot;

Gilmore said she would move her family to Atlanta. She has a housing voucher good for 120 days of rent.

&uot;Every little bit helps, but after that runs out, what are you going to do?&uot; she said.

Many people staying at the shelters said they were not planning to move into Steckler. Instead several said they would move into hotels &045; funded by the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s hotel assistance program &045; or homes or a combination of both.

David Aguilar said he would move from Assumption Catholic into a hotel until it is safe to return to his Algiers home

&uot;I had planned on going home yesterday, but then Rita showed up Š&uot;

Hurricane Rita showing up is very much an event the Red Cross is anticipating. Hill said every shelter would be available to be reopened if there is another influx of evacuees.

&uot;No one will be abandoned,&uot; she said.

Faith Bolton said she feels abandoned by the consolidation plan. She doesn’t want to move into Steckler because she and her family are starting to feel secure at First Baptist.

&uot;You get to some kind of comfort here, then you go to a discomfort; it’s too much transition,&uot; she said.

Bolton and her family are moving into a hotel. She said she hopes the hotel program will extend to December when her semester at Copiah-Lincoln Community College finishes.

The Red Cross’ Lynda Hill said the consolidation would provide a &uot;springboard for people to begin making solid plans.&uot;

The shelter at Parkway Baptist Church will remain open but will not be accepting new residents. The shelter at Community Chapel is slated to consolidate Saturday.

&uot;Steckler was the first shelter open and will be the last one to close,&uot; Hill said.

Christian Schmidt contributed to this story.