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News :: Human Rights
Refugees: State plans for influx at Logan, convention center
04 Sep 2005
Massachusetts is making plans to accommodate about 2,000 weary, storm-ravaged evacuees displaced by Hurricane Katrina in a cooperative effort between the state and city that will involve hospitals, schools, churches, charitable organizations, and businesses, officials said yesterday.
The plan, dubbed Operation Helping Hand, involves plans for a triage and medical evaluation center at Logan International Airport and a temporary shelter at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. The mayor said the city and state are developing the plans in response to a request from the federal government.

Menino discussed the operation at City Hall yesterday and Governor Mitt Romney plans to hold a press conference today to offer more details. Romney aides said a task force will be named to oversee the operation in anticipation that evacuees will be sent to Massachusetts, though they have not been told of an exact date.

''We have one mission and that is of compassion," Romney said in a statement announcing the operation. ''The people of the Commonwealth want to offer a helping hand to victims of this tragedy."

To marshal resources for the effort, Romney said the state and city will need the help of businesses, charities, churches, and volunteers with teaching, medical, and public safety expertise. He is also asking the groups to take stock of their available housing.

Romney said he had spoken with leaders in the Massachusetts House and Senate and Menino about the operation, and he described the state's political leadership as being ''of one voice."

The governor also announced that 475 Massachusetts National Guardsmen will be sent to the devastated Gulf Coast. The soldiers will be departing in the next few days, but a specific time has not been set.

Menino called an emergency meeting in his City Hall office yesterday morning with several of his Cabinet members, as well as representatives from the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, and the Convention Center Authority. He was also in contact with Massachusetts Port Authority officials by phone. They spent most of the day making initial preparations for transporting critically ill patients to hospitals and planning temporary housing on the convention center floor.

''We've put a plan in place, if they do eventually come to our city, so we can treat them with dignity and respect as they do leave those planes and get into the triage area," the mayor said.

The mayor and his aides said the planning process on the part of the city shifted into high gear after his director of homeland security, Carlo Boccia, received a call from the Centers for Disease Control on Friday evening asking how many hospital beds in the Boston area could be ready within six hours. Federal officials have also contacted state officials about the planning process.

But by yesterday afternoon, neither Menino nor Romney aides could confirm when evacuees would begin arriving, saying only that they had been asked by the federal government to make plans for that possibility.

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Re: Refugees: State plans for influx at Logan, convention center
05 Sep 2005
Someone should be there to hand out voter registration forms. Or call for a special voter registration status for the refugees so they can vote no matter where they ultimatly end up.