Alabama uses the Golden Rule

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2005

REGION – The name of the program can’t be anymore literal.

Governor Riley has announced Operation Golden Rule to provide shelter and disaster assistance for Hurricane Katrina victims.

The program will help to find long-term housing for people who lost their home due to the storm.

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With the program in effect, Riley hopes to find housing for 10,000 hurricane victims and create the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund to aide Alabama residents who aren’t covered by insurance.

“We are willing to help in any way we can,” Jeremy Sherer, special projects coordinator for Artur Davis, said. “We’ve sent a letter giving recommendations on how the program may work.”

According to the letter, efforts must have three components. First it should effectively identify and catalogue those who have come to Alabama in need of assistance.

Next the program should identify public and private resources to meet their needs and find a way to communicate the availability of these resources to those in need.

Sherer said Davis’ office is attempting to do everything in the letter in the Black Belt community.

“We’ve completed surveys of public housing and who’s providing shelters in the area,” he said. “There are lots of private shelters. There are a lot of community organizations wanting to help.”

Davis is attempting to find out what hurdles evacuees are encountering as they relocate.

“There are 400 people at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center now, but we estimate 6,000 to be here soon,” Sherer said. “The Bessemer Civic Center will be open also.”

He said the state is willing to give evacuees social security checks and food stamps without identification, as to not deprive them of the necessities.

To be eligible for assistance evacuees must register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

“This will impact us more in the upcoming weeks than it has now,” Sherer said.