Aurora Businesses Pull Resources To Help Victims

Businesses in Aurora, Colo., sprang into action Friday to assist victims and their families. Kevin Hougen, president of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, worked with businesses to help provide necessities to victims of the shooting. Host Scott Simon spoke with Hougen Friday from his office, which overlooks the movie theater.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Businesses in Aurora sprang into action yesterday to try to assist victims and their families. Kevin Hougan is the president of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. He worked with businesses yesterday to help provide food and water to victims and to first responders. We reached Mr. Hougan yesterday afternoon in his office. He says he can see the Century 16 movie theater from his window.

KEVIN HOUGAN: In some of the area, businesses have closed because of the tragedy. And then yet a lot of the small businesses around here are open, but they're providing food and beverages and refreshments for all the first responders; the police, our fire, and ambulance, and hospital professionals that have just been so outstanding in this disaster.

SIMON: Now, Mr. Hougan, do you and other members of the business community have some kind of a plan of action for the next few days?

HOUGAN: You know, right now it just seems like taking a step at a time, helping the victims, helping the family members. That's our goal right now is to take care of the people that have been so affected by this tragedy. So I - pardon me - I have a little hard time talking here at this time. But, you know, I think it's really immediate needs of the victims, the immediate needs of their families is what we're going to concentrate on.

SIMON: And when you talk about helping them with their needs, it sounds like you mean very practical things - water, food, shelter.

HOUGAN: Yeah, the individual that they've capture, even his apartment complex, he's - it appears like possibly booby-trapped the place he lived at. And so there are literally families that have been dislocated out of the apartments that even surround the apartment that he was in. And so those families need help, and so the Red Lion Hotel here in Aurora, the DoubleTree, has stepped forward offering any assistance for any type of housing or any type of meals too.

So it's really even more than the direct area where the tragedy happened. They've just stepped forward real quickly to offer any support. So it really is a little larger challenge in the community than just really where the site of the incident took place.

SIMON: I wonder if you've heard from many of the businesses in Columbine. They certainly might have some idea of what you're going through.

HOUGAN: The chambers of commerce down there have called and expressed, you know, any help that they could put out. Our state chamber, Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry has called. The principal at Columbine High School has contacted us - has been on the radio offering help when they went through their tragedy, and we all responded in the same manner.

I got a call from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today. I had gotten an email from the chamber in Aurora, Illinois offering any help. It's really been an unbelievable response of support and help from not only the business community here, but community members from throughout the state and nation.

SIMON: Kevin Hougan, who is he president of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. Thanks so much for being with us, Mr. Hougan.

Thank you for your thoughts and concerns and hopefully your listening audience will have us in their - or the victims and the families in their prayers. So, thank you, sir.

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