Red Cross aid center plans again on table

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 28, 2005

An American Red Cross regional center at the Kellwood buildingin Monticello is again a possibility, an official said.

Bob Smira, Lawrence County Community Development Associationdirector, said he has spoken with representatives of the charitableorganization for the past two days. Because Hurricane Rita struckthe Texas coast with less damage than expected, national Red Crossrepresentatives are once again looking at the Kellwood building tohost a regional center that would process up to 5,000 claimants aday.

“They say they’re still going to open the center,” Smirasaid.

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Electrical work on the building has resumed, he said, but it wasnot known when the center might be opened to begin processingclaims.

The center was tentatively scheduled to open Sept. 22, butelectrical work to make the building compatible for approximately150 computers delayed it. That delay was followed by the threat ofHurricane Rita, prompting Red Cross officials to indefinitelypostpone the center’s opening because the personnel weretransferred to assist in the Texas recovery.

County plans remain unchanged should the center open, Smirasaid.

Previously, Lawrence County Sheriff Joel Thames announced theroute people should take to enter the center, expecting longlines.

The line will begin along the northbound shoulder of Highway 27,turn onto the westbound shoulder of Highway 84, continue onto MasonStreet and enter Kellwood’s west gate, he said. The fencedfacility’s east gate, back onto Highway 84, will be used as theexit.

Billy Joe Boutwell, president of the Lawrence County board ofsupervisors, said portable toilets would be situated along the lineand preparations were being made to provide water to those inline.

In order to avoid problems that have occurred at other centeropenings, officers with the local law enforcement agencies,including the Mississippi Highway Patrol and Department ofWildlife, Fisheries and Park, will be joined by members of the ArmyNational Guard.