organizations and individuals have come forward to
work with New Castle County government, making the
effort to house and provide social services to
refugees from the Hurricane Katrina disaster a
"We're overwhelmed by the
response we've received," Anne Farley, general manager of
the Department of Community Services, told County Council's
community services committee. "The county is really acting
as a facilitator."
To date, she said, the
county-initiated program is working with six families with a
total of 17 adults and 13 children. The Red Cross has
identified 75 other families which came on their own to join
relatives or others in Delaware and the Eastern Shore
counties of Maryland.
The county's commitment
to provide for 25 families is on hold, she told the Council
committee on Sept. 20.
The Federal Emergency
Management Agency has suspended airplane flights to take
flood victims to various parts of the nation until after
Oct. 1. So far, 66,000 people have been taken to eight
When and if the flights
resume, Farley said, "we're prepared to receive one."
In order for
Delaware to be a destination -- and for the county to
receive federal reimbursement for expenses it has incurred
-- Governor Ruth Ann Minner has declared a state of
emergency. Although no emergency exists in Delaware, the
Federal Emergency Management Agency requires that it be
Farley said two of the six
family groups have been moved from temporary lodgings in
hotels to more suitable quarters. From early indications,
the success rate in that regard is apparently 50-50.
One four-member family -- two
adults and two children -- is in a four-bedroom house
obtained through Catholic Charities with the Raskob
Foundation covering rent for up to a year. Ursuline Academy
has admitted one of the children, age 12, on a full-tuition
scholarship. Her father, whose small business in southern
Louisiana was wiped out by the storm, has found a job.
Councilman Joseph Reda said
that the scholarship was awarded "not just because of what
happened, but on [her] merits." She was an honor student at
her former school.
No so satisfying, Farley
acknowledged, has been the experience of a larger family
group with four adults and three children under the age of
four. Sponsored by an area church, they were placed in
adjacent donated two-bedroom houses in Alban Park.
"They didn't feel safe" in
that location, Farley explained. She said there was no
direct threat, but they were made "uncomfortable" after
moving in on Sept. 16, a Friday, by a loud party going on in
the neighborhood that night. The resultant atmosphere
"was different from what they are used to," she said.
It later was reported by the
News Journal newspaper that the family was concerned
because there are registered sex offenders living in the
Farley said that other housing
arrangements are being made for them. West
End Neighborhood House is providing case management for the
Farley said she could not
provide more specifics because "a policy of
confidentiality" is in effect as regards the refugees'
identity and circumstances.
She said three of the other
four families will be moved out of hotels within about 10
days. The other is seeking housing on its own, but will need
financial support. Three of the four families include
children ranging in age from pre-school to their teens. One
includes an adult son who has been missing since the storm
The Red Cross is surveying
the needs of families that have come to the area on their
own. The community services department and the agencies
cooperating with it will provide whatever social services
are found to be needed, Farley said.
She told the committee that
rent-free use of 37 apartments and houses has been
donated. Included is an apartment owned by Councilman
She listed among other
private agencies involved the Y.W.C.A., Connections,
Goodwill Industries, United Way, Community Legal Aid,
Neighborhood House and the Hockessin Community Center. The
Delaware Apartment Association, New Castle County Chamber of
Commerce and Board of Realtors, along with area hotels and
several small businesses, are on board from the business
community. The state Division of Social Services, Delaware
State Housing Authority, Delaware Emergency Management
Agency and Delaware Department of Transportation are
The program "represents the
character of the people we have here," Councilman William
Bell said. "They didn't have to do what they're doing."