Dunn Avenue school takes on evacuees - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Dunn Avenue school takes on evacuees

Victims of Hurricane Katrina are starting to fill up the shelter at Dunn Avenue Elementary School.

Behind the scenes, there's a massive operation to organize the help at both Emergency Management headquarters and at the American Red Cross.

Much of that is staffed by volunteers. For them, this holiday was not a day of rest.

At Red Cross headquarters on Central and Lamar hundreds of volunteers are helping evacuees find food and clothing before they're directed to the Dunn Avenue Shelter for a place to stay.

Thousands of hurricane victims have passed through the Red Cross in the last few days.

Many of the volunteers have been there for days, cooking to keep the food lines going, and making sure some of these hurricane victims can get a hot meal.

A lot of evacuees are also getting medical attention at the Red Cross.

Brett Hill and his wife are using their vacation time to tend to Katrina's victims. Hill says, "There's nothing better than being here helping people - listening to their stories. People need someone to talk to. Someone to tell their story and get a hug."

Between 75 and 100 volunteers a day have been showing up at the Red Cross since Katrina's victims started arriving here in the Mid-South.

Other Mid-southerners spent their holiday answering phones at Shelby County emergency management headquarters.

For Alice Donohoe, this would otherwise be a break from her job at the Orpheum. Instead, she's answering questions from others who want to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Donohoe says she's doing it because, "It's through volunteering that makes our community different from other communities. And if they're not given the opportunity to call and they can't reach someone on the other end of the phone, it makes it more difficult."

Some volunteer to support the volunteers, like the Salvation Army cooks who've been feeding relief workers for days.

For others, it simply goes with the job.

Emergency management went to twelve hour shifts on September first... To take care of the deluge of evacuees.

Inside the so-called war room you'll find coordinators for fire, police and social services, and for the shelter on Dunn Avenue.

According to EMA Director Claude Talford, "We're fully activated at this point and there is no such thing as a holiday for emergency management or emergency services at this point. You know, it comes with the territory."

Help will still be needed long after this holiday passes.

Volunteer coordinators say this immediate response has been great - but they'll need people for months, as Memphis becomes a new home for many of the evacuees who have no place else to go.

If you'd like to volunteer to help call 324-8799.

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