Evacuees address York Council

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2005

YORK-Since the arrival of hurricane Katrina to the Gulf Coast several people from Louisiana and Mississippi have made their way to Sumter County. Evacuees said for the most part, people have been kind, however, in other places, such as convenience stores, people have not made them feel welcome. Some said they have even been treated poorly at public offices.

York Mayor Carolyn Mitchell Gosa said this behavior was not the perception they wanted people to have of their city.

“These people represent York,” Gosa said. “We want to know if they are making anyone feel unwelcome.”

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Gosa added the City of York and council wanted to do whatever they could to help evacuees pull through this difficult time.

“If we can help you all we will,” Gosa said. “We are very sorry if there is anybody that has done this too you during this difficult time. We open our doors to do whatever we can for you.”

Already the city has put a plan into place to waive several connection fees for evacuees who have moved into housing authority lodging.

“Everybody that has come here and lives in the housing authority they do not pay a connection fee,” Gosa said. “That is normally $225 to give them everything.”

Evacuees complained they were still receiving a power bill. Gosa explained the fees that were waived dealt with water sewer and gas. Alabama Power handled electric bills.

As for everything else, Gosa said the city was doing their best to help evacuee’s relocation efforts as smooth as possible.

“Everybody that moves into any housing authority apartment there we waive the $225 fee,” Gosa said. “That is so you do not have to come out of your pocket with that. We are trying to do our part as a city and those are some of the things we are offering.”

There was also some confusion as to which officials took care of certain problems. City Attorney Nat Watkins said it was important that new citizens address the proper avenues to save themselves a lot of time and frustration.

“They need to understand too that the housing authority is separate from the city,” Watkins said. “It is a separate entity.”

Gosa apologized to the evacuees for any ill treatment they might have received and let them know she was willing to help them in any way she and the city could.

“We certainly apologize,” Gosa said. “If there is something I can do as a mayor, or just as a citizen to make your stay better let me know. My door is always open.”