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Palm Beach County focusing on long-term solutions for Dorian evacuees

Posted: 6:56 PM, Sep 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-18 18:56:09-04

Palm Beach County says it’s taking a step back when it comes to emergency relief for Hurricane Dorian Evacuees. They are refocusing their efforts to long term solutions.

After Grand Celebration cruise ship first docked at the Port of Palm Beach the county set up an emergency shelter for evacuees who didn’t have a place to go. Now they have around 60 people in temporary housing.

“I lost everything,” one evacuee said.

For people living in Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands that’s their reality.

“The east end is completely devastated we need as much help as we can,” the man said.

In the days after Hurricane Dorian - the Grand Celebration cruise ship embarked on a relief mission bringing 1,400 evacuees to Palm Beach County.

Deputy County Administrator Jon Van Arnam says they prepared for the worst, setting up an emergency shelter and providing onsite transportation and medical relief. He says that cost the county $400,000 and those were unexpected expenses.

“With a very short turn around it was the right thing to do,” he said. “And I believe our residents here would expect that. We couldn’t allow a situation at the port where there is hundreds of individuals show up with no place to go.”

Now the county is hoping to take a step back and focus on finding a permanent solution for the 68 evacuees already here. Catholic Charities is joining their efforts.

“If you’re bringing someone over I would say please make sure they have a family or a friend that they can stay with indefinitely because we do have 1,300 homeless in the streets, everyday in Palm Beach County and we don’t have the resources to meet that need this is really an added challenge for us,” Alex Stevens, Associate Director said.

Stevens says Catholic Charities will help as long as it’s needed. He says they are working with Catholic Relief services in the Bahamas in hopes of increasing their shelter capacity.