Singleton holds Town Hall meeting

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 12, 2005

GREENSBORO – Although it was Friday and most people were getting ready for the weekend Greensboro leaders and citizens gathered to discuss the wellbeing of evacuees.

City council members, concerned citizens, pastors, housing representatives and Alabama leaders, Bobby Singleton and Ralph Howard, hope to create a plan to provide for Mississippi and Louisiana evacuees.

The meeting was held at the Greensboro City Hall Friday at 2 p.m.

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“I think it went well,” Senator Bobby Singleton said. “This was just a meeting to let the people know that we have evacuees in the city. I don’t want the community to act as though they are not here.”

Singleton has been traveling his district, which also includes Greene, Sumter and Choctaw counties, to discuss plans to accommodate the area’s newest additions.

“It may take another meeting to talk about shelters and things, but we’re working on it,” he said.

Singleton told the group he did not want the evacuees to arrive and not receive the proper services and the items they need. He also said he has asked Governor Riley to commit more resources to the Black Belt to provide for evacuees.

Before Thursday, Greensboro was struggling to find the resources to alleviate the situation, but now the city has been declared a disaster area and will receive aid from FEMA.

“We are bringing new people into a community that already has problems,” Singleton said. “We can’t forget about our local people, but we need to take care of the evacuees too.”

At the meeting citizens learned Greensboro Fire Department is housing clothing for evacuees, there are 342 registered evacuees in the Black Belt, evacuees need to register at the nearest shelter or on the FEMA website, and the old East Perry High School has about 300 open beds for evacuees.

“We’re talking about 10,000 evacuees coming to the area,” Singleton said. “We have more land space but our economy can’t handle it.”

Singleton said things are going to change everyday and no one is sure of how to handle the disaster.

“It sounds like no one knows what they are talking about on our conference calls,” he said. “Things are up in the air.”

According to Representative Ralph Howard, “it’s time for the government and FEMA to make some big decisions.”

Cynthia Burton from the Community Service Programs of West Alabama said the area needs to make sure the immediate needs are taken care of.

“We need to help them get to a point where they are self-sufficient,” she said. “But, we can’t help somebody if you don’t know what help they need.”

Burton, who is moving the CSP office from Sawyerville to Greensboro, also said she will get workers to do assessments of the families to put them where they need to be.

“We want to help anyway we can,” she said.

Burton also asked local citizens to be patient with resource offices and departments during this period of time.

“We are still servicing residents but we are giving priority to evacuees,” she said. “Please be patient.”

Evacuees can contact the local DHR, Board of Education, Housing Resource Center, the American Red Cross and FEMA for information on relocating.