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franklin county times

NW-Shoals provides options for evacuees

By Staff
Melissa Cason
PHIL CAMPBELL – Evacuees forced from their homes due to Hurricane Gustav have made their way to Franklin County and county residents have changed plans to lend a helping hand.
With more than 100 Hurricane Gustav evacuees on the Northwest-Shoals Community College campus in Phil Campbell, school employees, volunteers and students are being forced to make adjustments this week.
Cafeteria employees Jane Wingo, Brenda Burnelle and Elzie Overton were called in to work Monday despite the Labor Day holiday.
"Brenda called me and told me we had to work today, and I said no it's a holiday, but when she told me what was going on, I was happy to come in," Wingo said.
The ladies, with the help of volunteers, fed hundreds of people Monday and continued to feed the 116 evacuees being housed on the campus Tuesday as classes resumed.
"We have to schedule everything in order to serve our students and the evacuees," Wingo said. "We weren't prepared for this but we are happy to do it."
Campus law enforcement are also having to call in extra help to keep the campus safe for students while keeping the evacuees safe at the same time.
"Our first concern is our students," Charles Garrison with NW-SCC police said. "We have no way of knowing what kinds of backgrounds some of these people have so we are doing our best to keep everyone safe."
Garrison said extra officers are being brought in to help during the evening hours to make sure everyone is safe.
"During Hurricane Katrina there were assaults, thefts and rapes reported within the evacuees," Garrison said. "We are doing all we can to make sure that doesn't happen here."
Garrison said area law enforcement agencies such as the Franklin County Sheriff's Department, Russellville Police Department, Franklin County District Attorney's Office and the Phil Campbell Police Department are providing law enforcement officials to help keep the campus safe during the evening hours.
While everything is being done to keep everything as normal as possible for the students, some are a little nervous about the extra people on campus.
"It makes me nervous to have all these extra people here," Heather Manasco of Lynn said.
"It's different than what we are used to."
Matthew Roberts, of Haleyville, said seeing the evacuees get help is amazing but is also intimidating.
"It's kind of amazing to see what's going on here, but we are used to it being quieter here," Roberts said.
Roberts and Manasco agree the students are staying more together than before in order to deal with the extra people on campus.
"Usually we'll come in here, and everyone is scattered out," Roberts said.
"Today, we are all together."
Garrison said his office has received some complaints from students because of the evacuees.
"You have to understand these people are not under arrest," Garrison said.
"We are trying to keep everything as normal as possible, but it is louder than usual, and we can't make the evacuees stay in one place."
Franklin County EMA Director Roy Gober said Northwest was the only shelter at a community college not to cancel class due to the evacuees.