Evacuees find shelter with NVRM

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

Since early last week the staff at the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute have been working with the Red Cross to provide shelter for around 60 New Orleans evacuees, with even more expected to be arriving soon.

Sam Walker, of the Voting Rights Museum, said the museum has been housing evacuees at the headquarters of 21st Century Leadership in Perry County since last Wednesday.

“We have a New Orleans chapter of 21st Century Leadership. Most of the people staying there are chapter members and extended family,” Walker said. “We are expecting 50 more people soon.”

Walker said 21st Century Leadership hosted camps at the Perry County site during the summer that many of the New Orleans evacuees had attended.

“They knew we had a facility there so they came to us,” Walker said. “We got the Red Cross to work with us and designate the site as a shelter.”

Walker said the evacuees -who range in age from 2 to 60, including a pregnant mother and children with special needs – arrived in Selma with nothing but the clothing on their backs and a little money.

“They thought they would be back in a day or two,” he said.

Volunteers and staff members of 21st Century Leadership and the museum have been helping evacuees enroll in local schools and receive medical treatment from the Dallas County and Perry County Health Departments.

Walker said the evacuees have received help from the Red Cross and the Southern Federation of Cooperatives.

The museum staff said they expect the evacuees will be staying in this area for at least another three months.

“We are asking for donations for food and clothing, and volunteers to help us sort through the donations,” Walker said.

On Friday from 11 to 4 p.m., Walker said, a New Orleans chef will be serving gumbo and red beans and rice to the public at the Ammosa restaurant on Selma Avenue to help raise money for the evacuees.

Anyone who would like to help the New Orleans evacuees can contact the Voting Rights Museum at 418-0800.