TCC awaits Katrina's victims

By Nick Smith
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 7, 2005

Cots, donations and volunteers at the Tucson Convention Center are awaiting the arrival of hundreds of displaced citizens from Hurricane Katrina, officials said.

Hurricane victims were expected to show up at the Tucson Convention Center yesterday, but the arrival has been delayed yet another day, said Sgt. Mark Robinson, public information officer of the Tucson Police Department.

Officials and volunteers do not know where the people will be coming from, only that they were affected by the hurricane, Robinson said.

The main floor of the convention center has been divided into two sections, one for single females and families, and the other for single males. About 500 cots are set up in the female and family area, and about 300 cots are set up in the single male area.

Each cot has clean sheets, pillows, toiletries and a welcome message written by one of the volunteers.

Volunteers were working yesterday to separate donations onto separate tables for clothing, books, toiletries and toys.

Activity tables containing games and toys for children were set up as well as a media center containing a TV, phones and computers.

Upon entering the convention center, victims will go through an identification process where they will be issued ID badges. Tucson Unified School District has agreed to enroll any school-aged child within two days, Robinson said.

Virtually every room in the convention center is being utilized to accommodate the victims, Robinson said.

The Pima County Health Department has also set up a medical center in one of the meeting rooms to tend to sick and injured evacuees, which includes 16 beds and tables with IVs.

Tables with cushions taped to them act as makeshift beds for infants.

A separate animal care area has also been set up to care for up to 150 pets. The arena of the convention center is planned as a dog-walking area, Robinson said.

The entire operation was organized and set up in a matter of days. The first planning meeting to convert the convention center into a shelter took place Saturday morning, which shows that Tucson is ready for dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster, Robinson said.