- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 3, 2005

Area rescue teams dispatched to the Gulf Coast to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina said yesterday efforts are going well, despite adversities and a slow start.

A 34-person search-and-rescue team from Fairfax County has been in Gulfport, Miss., since Wednesday, authorities said. A similar team of 35 from Montgomery County is also in the area.

Lt. Mark Stone, operations coordinator for Fairfax County International Search and Rescue, dismissed a report that the rescue team had called for food and water reinforcements upon arriving in Mississippi.

“We’ve had plenty of food,” Lt. Stone said yesterday. “Things are going well and there’s been no need to bring in” extra supplies, he said.

The Montgomery County rescue team found another survivor in a home destroyed by the hurricane in Mississippi, officials said yesterday.

It is the crew’s first discovery of a survivor since Wednesday, when members saved two persons in flood-damaged Harrison County, Miss.

Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery County fire department, said the rescue team is now working in Waveland, Miss.

Mr. Piringer also said morale is good among team members and nobody has been injured during the search process.

The county will send two additional persons to the region to help Federal Emergency Management Agency support teams. Since Friday, county officials have sent 20 additional persons to various locations to assist the first 35 rescue-team members.

The region’s fire chiefs are offering more personnel or equipment if needed, Mr. Piringer said.

The crews are among 18 urban search-and-rescue teams and two incident-support teams deployed to the Gulf Coast.

Tens of thousand of rescue workers, volunteers and members of the military from across the country are in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Officials have called the response one of the biggest relief operations and one of the largest search-and-rescue missions in U.S. history.

At least 40,000 persons so far have been evacuated, according to a news report. But military officials said as many as 80,000 people were still stranded in New Orleans.

In the District, 10 buses left Friday night for New Orleans to bring at least 400 displaced persons to the city where they will be temporarily housed in the D.C. Armory, on East Capitol Street Southeast, near RFK Stadium.

Preparations inside the armory could not begin until after last night’s “Labor Day Mega Jam” R&B; concert, headlined by Keith Sweat.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archibishop of Washington, is asking all 140 parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington for cash donations and for property owners to donate vacant housing units.

Catholic Charities is asking homeowners and apartment building owners to take in storm refugees for at least 90 days for free.

“It’s clear long-term housing is the most pressing and immediate need for hurricane survivors, and we are mobilizing all our resources to help meet that need,” said Ed Orzechowski, president of Catholic Charities.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports

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