Wednesday, September 07, 2005


New Orleans' evacutees fenced-in in Denver

From Denver Post, Evacuees' stories are moving, but fence isn't:
If I didn't know better, I'd have thought I was peering through the fence at a concentration camp.

The signs on the buildings say "Community College of Aurora," though for now they're serving as an impromptu Camp Katrina. About 160 hurricane survivors are being housed in the dorms, surrounded by fences, roadblocks, security guards and enough armed police officers to invade Grenada.

There's a credentials unit to process every visitor, an intake unit to provide identification tags and a bag of clothes to every evacuee, several Salvation Army food stations, portable toilets, shuttle buses, a green army-tent chapel with church services three times a day and a communications team to keep reporters as far away from actual news as possible.

It probably was easier for a reporter to get inside Gitmo on Tuesday than to penetrate the force field around Lowry.

But survivors occasionally breached the lockdown and came to the fence to tell their stories, each one astonishing.

All day Tuesday, people arrived at the Lowry site. A truck from Mountain Man Nut and Fruit Co. pulled in to deliver supplies. Volunteers came to offer counseling and help finding housing, furniture and clothing for evacuees.

Kathy Arford, who owns a small remodeling company, Kateri Homes, arrived offering two jobs at $10 an hour.

"I need help," she said, "and I can teach people how to do the work."

The only problem was she couldn't get near the survivors.

"I've spent two hours trying to find somebody who'll listen to me," she said.

She wants to give a couple of desperate people a chance at a new life. She just needs to get through the fence.

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