Wednesday, September 07, 2005

City Responds To Katrina

No police officers will be leaving the city for hurricane relief, city officials said Wednesday (Sept. 7, 2005), but the city will mount a volunteer response from individuals and local organizations.

At a meeting in the YMCA on Watchung Avenue, public safety officials and Mayor Albert T. McWilliams hastened to say that a news report Wednesday about 20 officers wanting to go to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast was erroneous. Fire Chief Cecil Allen, Police Chief Edward Santiago and Public Safety Director Jiles Ship said no personnel can respond to the disaster without state authorization.

Earlier Wednesday, Plainfield Police Benevolent Association Local 19 President Andre Crawford said, “We never reached out for our members to go there. We don’t have the luxury to have people to send down.“
The city has had 14 violent deaths since March and a countywide task force has been assigned here to deal with crime.

About 70 people attended the meeting at the YMCA, where former New Orleans resident and chaplain Eva Santemore described her attempt first to help relatives and then to aid those in need of counseling after evacuations.

Santemore described the people of New Orleans as clannish and extremely proud. In the wake of the disaster, she offered her assistance as a chaplain to victims of the hurricane.

The city response involves identification of what each organization or person can offer.

City Information Officer Dan Damon said Wednesday the task force will become a clearing house for relief requests.