City prepares for refugees - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City prepares for refugees

At a special news conference, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton said there are already 10,000 refugees here and today, the city of Memphis was gearing up for another 2,000. They were going to stay at the Mid-South Coliseum.

But their buses ran out of gas and they never made it this far. Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton set the tone off the top.

"We're in it for the long haul," he said.

City and County leaders explained the refugee situation was likely a long-term one and that because of it, the task force call center, designed to help refugees find available hotel rooms and shelters and other life-support services, will be moving and expanding to the Cook Convention Center.

"I promise you if at 8 o'clock tomorrow night those phones are still busy, we will stay there as long as we need to. We are committed to doing this seven days a week until this crisis subsides," said Kevin Kane who heads up the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Already, this group said, another 2,000 refugees were en route. People with special needs, who would be housed at the Mid-South Colliseum.

"It's a request that's been made to us and it was requested on yesterday and we've been making preparation for them to come. That will be only those persons with special needs from mississippi will be housed at the coliseum," said Chief Administrative Officer Keith McGee.

But moments before the first buses were due to arrive, city leaders got the message that they'd run out of gas and had settled instead at military installations in Jackson and Meridian, Miss.

Still - agencies are mobilizing. Herenton and County Mayor AC Wharton have scheduled a Friday meeting with area clergy to rally support. And local business leaders intend to build a relief fund on their own.

That call center will be up and running tomorrow morning at 8am. The new number is 543-5600.

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