US braced for Katrina refugee crisis

An unprecedented refugee crisis sweeped across the United States Sunday as emergency officials rushed to feed, clothe and shelter more than a half-million people dispossessed by Hurricane Katrina.

Texas is accommodating 139,000 in public shelters, and another 100,000 or so evacuees are staying in hotels, Texas officials said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said on Sunday that he was seeking to airlift some of the refugees to other states such as Utah, Michigan, Iowa and New York as Texas is nearing its capacity to take in new people.

Houston alone has accommodated about 27,000 poor, mostly black evacuees in its stadiums, conference centers and other facilities.

Days of stress and harsh conditions were taking a toll. Officials at the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office around Houston said ten people, aged 50 to 92, had died in shelter facilities since arriving in Houston in recent days.

San Antonio, Dallas and other cities across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi all braced to accommodate a continuing stream of people in distress.

Around the country, social service agencies, businesses, volunteer groups, military bases and other refugee shelters raced to help Katrina's multitudes find jobs, obtain their Social Security checks, receive their medicines, get their mail, locate missing relatives and pets, and enroll their youngsters in school.

Source: Xinhua/agencies



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