Emergency operations officials are fervently pulling together a plan to shelter up to 500 Hurricane Katrina survivors expected to arrive in Reno on Monday morning. The massive humanitarian effort stretches between the public and private spheres, and encompasses the medical and even spiritual well being of Southerners rocked by natural disaster.
Gov. Kenny Guinn's Chief of Staff Mike Hillerby said Thursday that half of those evacuees may be sent to shelters in Northern Nevada, and the other half to Las Vegas.
"We've been put on alert that we may potentially get up to 500 people on Monday," Hillerby said. "They've put states in groups of three and our assigned day is Monday. But things will develop between now and then."
About 100 evacuees could be housed at the Nevada State Department of Health and Human Services' mental health campus in Sparks, which has vacant residential housing and open rooms at the new Dini/Townsend hospital. Up to 200 more evacuees could be housed at the Army National Guard's Regional Training Institute in Stead.
Randi Thompson, Red Cross spokeswoman, said about 400 Hurricane Katrina survivors are known to have relocated to Las Vegas on their own. Clark County and the American Red Cross are aiding this group, many of whom who are housed in hotel/casinos.
Reno will be the first site in the state to receive the evacuees Monday, the State of Nevada's Department of Emergency Management reported Thursday. It is unknown where the survivors will come from, their medical conditions, or if pets or luggage will accompany them.
The evacuees will first be brought through initial medical screening at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and at the reception area at the Dini/Townsend building. A pharmacy will also be on site at the reception area. More detailed assessments for medical and counseling needs will be done the next day.
Evacuees will be issued a photo ID card at their initial screening and a state of Nevada Medicaid card will be issued the following day.
The Washoe County Sheriff's Office, Sparks and Reno police departments will provide security for the first 24 hours from the time the evacuees arrive in Reno. A national security firm will be contracted to provide security after that.
Emergency officials met with community leaders from the Reno/Sparks black community to assist with welcoming efforts and the evacuees' spiritual needs.
Many Carson City residents want to help the evacuees heading to Nevada, including Carson City woman Mindy Peltier.
"I was just going to start going through my clothing this weekend," the travel agent with Frontier Travel said. " I have a lot and they don't have anything, so this is a good time to start thinning it out."
Peltier plans on dropping off her donations at the old Wal-Mart on South Carson Street, where grassroots hurricane relief group Katrina's Hope will accept and sort donations.
Tammi Geraci, the group's founder, said the 4209 S. Carson St. building should be open for donations by 9 a.m. Monday.
"People are calling me saying, 'my car is loaded, where do I drop it off?'" she said. "I say, as soon as I get the keys."
Property owner Max Baer Jr. has wanted to develop Jethro's Beverly Hillbillies Mansion and Casino there but has been opposed by the other two property owners within the shopping center, Glenbrook Co. and J.C. Penney.
Baer agreed to use the old Wal-Mart as a storage center for Katrina's Hope because he wants to see it put to good use. The old Wal-Mart has been vacant for more than two years.
Geraci, who is a phone reservation agent with America West Airlines, said the site will be marked with a 2-foot-by-20-foot banner that reads: "Katrina's Hope - The Open Door Relocation Project." For information contact her at 691-4039.
- Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.