Contact Information

  • Rob Harper, Washington Emergency Management Division, 800-688-8955

Gov. Christine Gregoire announces Operation Evergreen, Washington joins nationwide effort to host Katrina evacuees

For Immediate Release: September 5, 2005

CAMP MURRAY, WA - Sept. 5, 2005 - At 2 p.m. today, Gov. Christine Gregoire announced Operation Evergreen, a Washington state effort to host up to 2,000 people from the Gulf Coast disaster area. Washington is joining several other states in what has become a national humanitarian effort to care for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

“Like so many people in Washington, I want to help our fellow citizens in their hour of need” said Gov. Gregoire. “My heart goes out to the people in Louisiana and Mississippi who have lost loved ones and virtually everything but the clothes on their backs. Their suffering - and what they have witnessed and been through - is unimaginable.”

When the first guests from the Katrina disaster area will begin to arrive in Washington state is yet to be determined, but could come later this week. Katrina guests could possibly land at McChord Air Force Base and be housed temporarily at Fort Lewis Army Base initially before moving to other residences. This has not been confirmed and is pending federal approvals.

"Multiple state and local agencies, the Red Cross, and other community organizations are engaged in preparing to provide services to these disaster victims,” said Gov. Gregoire. “As we welcome these people as guests of Washington state, we must be ready to address the very wide array of needs they have.”

Gov. Gregoire formally proclaimed a state of emergency to pave the way for efficiently administering the hosting process. The proclamation enables state agencies to make expenditures and use resources on an emergency basis. Washington state agencies; King, Pierce and Snohomish counties; and community relief organizations are working closely together in planning for the hosting operation.

Gov. Gregoire has also sent a letter to President Bush requesting federal disaster assistance to support the state effort. If granted, the request would make the state eligible to be reimbursed for costs such as guest reception and processing, crisis counseling, unemployment assistance, schooling and transportation needs and legal assistance.

Since the primary need is for money, people who want to help are asked to donate to “Washington Cares.“ A fund established by the Governor in partnership with Washington Mutual. Donations can be made to any Washington Mutual branch location in Washington State. People in Washington who want to donate clothing and other items are asked to work through the Goodwill, Salvation Army and the other organizations that are equipped to receive donations and are a part of Washington State’s effort.

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Monday, September 5, 2005

In addition to Operation Evergreen, Washington state’s multiple relief responses to date include:
National Guard
The KC-135R Aircraft Wing from the Washington Air National Guard’s 141st Air Refueling Wing from Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane continues to play a important role in the Gulf Coast region. The KC-135R will continue transporting personnel. A total of 50 soldiers and accompanying staff are supporting those missions.
We have received a request for mobilization for elements of the 66th Aviation Brigade, which is part of the Washington Army National Guard. The personnel will conduct planning, coordination and synchronization of military support aircraft. Approximately 130 personnel are mobilizing today at Camp Murray and expect to depart this week. The 66th Aviation Brigade has six UH-60s black-hawk helicopters are standing by for possible follow-up missions.
In addition, an aviation maintenance unit with approximately 12 personnel is mobilizing to aid in recovery efforts.
Washington state believes there may be further requests for National Guard troops. At this time, all mobilized troops are expected to serve 30-day missions.
Washington State Agencies and Offices
The governor’s office is currently working with multiple state agencies, including the Department of Emergency Management and Department of Social and Health Services to identify what resources may be available to expedite support services to victims of Katrina that may be joining family and friends in this state.
To assist Gulf Coast states in their own efforts to expedite services for victims, DSHS will send staff with expertise in electronic benefits transfer to the Gulf, helping the hurricane-ravaged states to quickly get flood victims access to funds for emergency food assistance.
Displaced University students
A number of colleges and universities in Gulf Coast region will not be able to resume classes for some time to come. Several public and private Washington state institutions, including the University of Washington and Washington State University, are opening their doors for students from these institutions to continue their studies. UW and others will direct any tuition revenues from these students to their original university to help those institutions complete their disaster recovery.
Gasoline supply

Thus far, it appears that Washington’s supply of gasoline has not been dramatically affected by the hurricane. Prices may increase and citizens should take that into account when making travel plans. Since the fuel distribution system is not designed to accommodate a sudden drawn-down, people should refrain from topping off their gas tanks for the next few days. Washington state is acting to make sure that our motor fuel standards are consistent with the temporary waiver from the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued as a result of the President’s declaration of emergency.

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