Katrina Evacuees in Texas to Be Transferred

Nearly a quarter of a million evacuees from Hurricane Katrina have fled to Texas. Now, officials there are preparing to transfer the survivors to other parts of the country.

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

We'll have a review of Justice Rehnquist's life and contribution to the court later in our broadcast, but we turn our attention now to Hurricane Katrina. The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, said today the state is reaching its limit, and he asked emergency officials to begin sending evacuees in Texas to other states. More than a quarter of a million hurricane survivors are already in Texas. NPR's Howard Berkes is in Houston and joins me now.

Hello, Howard.

HOWARD BERKES reporting:

Hi there, Debbie.

ELLIOTT: Is the state of Texas saying it's full up and can't take anymore hurricane survivors?

BERKES: Not exactly. They're saying that in order to take good care of the people who are already here and people who continue to come, they need to now move some people to other places. As people arrive, they'll check their health, they'll make sure they've got food and water, they'll get them stabilized, make sure they're clean, but they'll also then begin forwarding them on to other states. They've made arrangements with three of the airlines based in Texas--the three airlines American, Continental and Southwest--to begin as early as tonight moving people to Michigan, Iowa and West Virginia. And Governor Rick Perry is also talking to governors of other states hoping that others will host these people, as well.

ELLIOTT: How long will people now housed in the Houston Astrodome and the other centers there be allowed to keep living in Texas?

BERKES: That's another issue that's come up today. The governor says that he wants FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to think about bringing in more cruise ships. Some have already come into Texas and to the Houston area, but Corpus Christi and Beaumont were suggested as places where there could be more cruise ships. And the idea is to move people out of these temporary shelters at the Astrodome and other big centers like that onto cruise ships where people could perhaps be more comfortable, not be in just one big open room where there's no privacy and that sort of thing. So they're starting to look ahead. They say that a place like the Astrodome--although it's a lot better than the Superdome, and everybody I talked to here today said that--is not suitable for ongoing housing of these people.

ELLIOTT: Are people from the Gulf Coast still arriving in Texas today?

BERKES: They're coming in all the time. They're arriving by the busload, they're arriving on airplanes. They're still coming in. And what the governor of Texas said today was that he'd been hearing from so many local officials around the state of Texas that they're reaching their limits. They're just about at the end of what they can handle in terms of numbers of people, without creating a situation in which they'll be uncomfortable. So they're starting to think about how to move them out to other places, and they're asking officials in Louisiana and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin sending them to other places, as well.

ELLIOTT: NPR's Howard Berkes in Houston. Thanks, Howard.

BERKES: Thank you, Debbie.

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