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More than 5,000 evacuees make their way to Tennessee

More than 5,000 evacuees make their way to Tennessee

Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 9:06 pm
By: AP

MEMPHIS (AP) — More than 5,000 people took shelter in Tennessee, and the governor suspended some state laws to expedite services to Hurricane Gustav evacuees. There were 29 shelters open in the state Monday, and 20 of them were at capacity and no longer had beds available, a spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said. More shelters could be opened if necessary, Mike Browning said Monday. Most people were staying in Memphis and Middle Tennessee, where three trains and 20 plane trips brought them in over the weekend. However, several were reportedly staying in Obion County and the surrounding area as well. “It has gone very orderly and smooth,” Browning said. “We are basically in the sustainment phase and we are providing food and water and some access to television.” The Tennessee National Guard said Monday that 600 soldiers and airmen from Tennessee were staged or preparing to deploy to the Gulf Coast to help. Shelby County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Shular said the critical time for determining the needs of the evacuees will be over the next couple of days as officials see the amount of destruction. Gov. Phil Bredesen signed an order Sunday that would allow health care professionals from out of state to practice in Tennessee, as well as allow pharmacists to give out 30-day supplies of prescriptions. Reginald Mitchell lost his leg to an infection from Hurricane Katrina’s dirty waters when he tried to ride out the storm in New Orleans three years ago. He lost his other leg to diabetes, and he and his wife weren’t taking any chances this time. They arrived in Memphis on an Amtrak train on Sunday and were staying in the Ed Rice Community Center in Frayser. “This time, we got out before the storm came. Last time, we were in the storm. Pure hell,” Mitchell told The Commercial Appeal. Officials were asking for volunteers, including medical staff, to help at the shelters. Kevin Kane, head of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Memphis hotels were at nearly 100 percent occupancy. Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell said they had confiscated some weapons from people on the trains, but there were no arrests of any evacuees. ——— Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com Published in The Messenger 9.02.08

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