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Nation’s Capital Houses Hundreds of Hurricane Evacuees

Many people who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina ended up in the nation's capital to temporarily live at the D.C. National Guard Armory.

As VOA's George Dwyer reports, the outpouring of humanitarian relief from the people of Washington is typical of efforts to help all around the United States.

Washington, D.C. is hundreds of kilometers from where Katrina hit -- but the effects are being felt even here. Evacuees were brought here by plane and buses from the affected areas of New Orleans.

Officials from the American Red Cross and city officials are working around the clock to see their needs are met. So are volunteers like Bridget Gray, of the group Earth Conservation Corp.

"So what we hope to accomplish today is to come in and see if we can't physically help someone, if we can help them just by being a person that they can talk to; showing kindness, welcome them to our city, being as hospitable as we can possibly be," she explained.

The D.C. Emergency Management Agency is providing evacuees with food water and other necessities. Operations Director Brian Hubbard told VOA, "From medical care to mental health care to any other need they want -- to make a phone call to a family member, to try to locate a family member -- we just want to be able to address any issue that they have since they've been displaced."

Wayne Mancuso is one of those rescued. "I was airlifted out of there and looked back and saw the destruction, it looked like somebody had dropped a bomb on my city," he said.

The 20,000 square meter armory now holds about 400 evacuees. And many now here from the "Big Easy" -- as New Orleans is known -- agree Washington, D.C. is a city with a big heart.