KOMO TV reports
OLYMPIA - Governor Christine Gregoire announced Sunday that the state is making plans to host up to 2,000 hurricane evacuees. States across the country are doing the same thing.
"We don't know at this point how many people will be coming," Gregoire said, "but we are making plans based on an initial estimate of up to 2,000 people. We don't know the exact timing for their arrival, but expect it will be within the next few days. We will share more information when it becomes available.
Assisting with the plan to host Katrina refugees are state officials, representatives from the city of Seattle, King Pierce and Snohomish Counties, the American Red Cross and many other organizations.
The state of Washington plans to provide shelter, food, medicine and other assistance to people displaced by the hurricane.
We must reach out to assist and aid those who have lost everything. It's the least we can do for our fellow Americans. Other states are helping too
In Texas, where nearly a quarter-million refugees have filled the state's relief centers, Gov. Rick Perry ordered emergency officials to airlift some evacuees to other states willing to take them. Among the states that have offered help are West Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Michigan, Iowa, New York and Pennsylvania.
"There are shelters set up in other states that are sitting empty while thousands arrive in Texas by the day, if not the hour," Perry said. "To meet this enormous need, we need help from other states."
Around the country, social service agencies, businesses, volunteer groups, military bases and other refugee shelters raced to help Katrina's multitudes find jobs, obtain their Social Security checks, receive their medicines, get their mail, locate missing relatives and pets, and enroll their youngsters in school.
In New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency and released about $1 million to help victims of Katrina as the first of up to 6,000 evacuees arrived Sunday. He also relaxed certain state transportation rules to speed up the building of temporary housing for the refugees.
Refugees also began arriving in Arizona, which has agreed to take up to 2,500. They were greeted on the runway by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.
Several people had to be helped off the plane and down the stairway to the tarmac, where pink, yellow, teal and black flip-flops had been set out for them.
Then, carrying garbage bags, backpacks and brown shopping bags with their only belongings, the evacuees were led into the airport for physicals before boarding buses to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"We'll take care of them," Gordon said. "We'll make sure they know that the city cares."
In Denver, Qwest Communications set up a bank of at least 50 phones at a processing center so refugees could call their loved ones. Colorado state Rep. Debbie Stafford said she was trying to arrange long-term shelter for the storm's victims, and also reunite people with their cats and dogs.
There are thousands that have lost everything and are without hope. It's our duty to help them. This country is not about every person for him or her self. It's a country of people who help and care for one another.