As many as 50 Gulf Coast evacuees could find haven in Orange County

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:54

    Goshen - Orange County is preparing to receive up to 50 evacuees from the Gulf Coast, County Executive Edward Diana said this week. Flanked by representatives from various county departments, area religious and civic organizations and citizens who are organizing private relief efforts, Diana outlined some of the plans. He also announced a county effort to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief. Two county residents outlined plans for a private effort to collect in-kind help. An information booklet for evacuees that includes information on all county services will be made available at town, village and city halls, Diana said. Information also is available on the county's helpline, 1-800-782-5480. County Health Commissioner Jean Hudson said the department is offering the vaccinations children will need to start school. First responders planning to help the Gulf Coast should also be vaccinated, she said. Families can obtain help in obtaining food through the federal Women's Infants' and Children's Program (WIC). The county Health Department can be reached at 291-2332. Blood is always needed, and is especially necessary during this crisis period, Hudson said. Call blood services at 1-800-933-2566 if you can donate. For help with Medicaid, food stamps, child care and other welfare services, evacuees can call the Department of Social Services at 291-4000, said Commissioner David Jolly. The waiting period for Medicaid will be waived for evacuees, and some documentation requirements may also be waived, he said. School districts are prepared for an influx of children from the Gulf, said Orange-Ulster District Superintendent Robert J. Hanna. While immunization records are important, the need to present them would be postponed for the newcomers. Orange County Community College President Dr. William Richards said 12 students from the storm-ravaged areas have registered at the college. Students and staff have collected money and needed items to be sent to the Gulf Coast, he added. Orange County is raising money for help with hurricane relief, Diana said. Today, Friday, Sept. 16 will be "Orange Cares Day." County employees who donate to the relief effort will be allowed to dress casual, and the county will match their donations up to $10,000. He suggested that local businesses could join in the effort. Carol A. Moore and Debbie Glover of Wawayanda are collecting medical and food supplies to be delivered to Franklinton, La., a central location in Washington Parish. Supplies may be delivered to local town halls through today, Friday, Sept. 16. The truck will be picking them up Saturday at the New Hampton Firehouse, and donations may be dropped off there on Friday, 4 to 7 p.m. or Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Glover's husband, Phil, traveled to the parish to find his sister. He did, and then stayed to lend his skills to the recovery effort. Phil and Debbie Glover's family and friends have secured the loan of an 18-wheeler to haul the donations to Washington Parish. Any evacuees coming to Orange County should register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said county Emergency Management Office Commissioner Walter Koury. Noting that we are all familiar with the idea of southern hospitality, The Rev. Bill Scafidi of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Newburgh said, "Now we have an opportunity to show northern hospitality in a spiritual, strong, definite way."