• 64°

Foscue Park providing home to evacuees

DEMOPOLIS-Foscue Park is normally a place of leisure for the people of Demopolis, but this week the park has taken on a higher purpose.

Earlier this week Gov. Bob Riley announced the state is offering hotel and lodge rooms and camp sites suitable for emergency housing trailers at Alabama’s 22 state parks to evacuees who have fled from Hurricane Katrina’s path of destruction. The effort is part of a plan to address temporary housing needs of those who escaped the storm battered Gulf Coast in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Foscue Park, which is one of the 22, is also participating. Lee Roland, Park Attendant Contractor, said they have a few campers so far, but expect several more.

“We have five now and we are opening the park to Hurricane Katrina victims and giving them free lodging,” Roland said. “We are expecting a few more today.”

Roland said he was very happy to be able to provide assistance and hoped they could fit everyone in.

“I think it is really great that we are able to help,” Roland said. “The calls I am getting are for three families and I told them if they get here early enough we can get the a site.”

Things could get hectic around the park later in the week. Roland said they would try to fit everyone in as best they can.

“We are booked solid for the weekend,” Roland said. “We will probably just work them around and park them wherever we can until we get them to a site.”

Riley said the move was necessary because many of the victims had no place to go and did not know when they would be able to return home. He said Alabama should do all they can to help their visitors get through this difficult time.

“Natural disasters don’t recognize state boundaries on a map,” Riley said. “This is a regional disaster and Alabama is doing everything we can to help citizens in our state and across the region who are suffering. The need to find housing and shelter for the storm victims is unprecedented and we’re pleased to offer this assistance.”

Evacuees in need of the trailers or rooms must first register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA. FEMA will then coordinate its resources and direct evacuees to nearby locations for this temporary housing assistance.

Riley spoke by phone Wednesday morning with homeland security Secretary Michael Chertoff and FEMA Director Mike Brown to make them aware of the offer. FEMA will be able to provide trailers that will serve as emergency housing for those who have fled the hurricane and its aftermath.

The governor has made 1,500 campsites that are suitable for trailer hook ups at Alabama’s state parks for storm evacuees. Rooms at the parks hotels and lodges will be offered where available.