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Sue Bush
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Nuciforo: Send Money

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Berkshire region residents who want to assist about 2,500 Hurricane Katrina evacuees who are being moved from the Gulf Coast to the Northeastern coastal area near Cape Cod have an opportunity to do just that, said state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. D-Pittsfield.

“If people are looking to be helpful, they can be,” Nuciforo said during a Sept. 6 telephone interview. “They can send money.”

Nuciforo suggested that people who are able to make monetary donations investigate the options listed at the Federal Emergency Management Agency www.fema.gov Internet web site. The site lists numerous organizations and agencies, including the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and the American Red Cross. Volunteer opportunities are also listed on the site.

Ultimately, individuals must decide for themselves the best way to help, he added.

“Each individual has to help in the way they deem best,” Nuciforo said.

A Sept. 6 Boston Globe newspaper article quoted several eastern Massachusetts residents as being very willing to assist the people expected to occupy space at the Otis Air National Guard base. However, others were quoted having some reservations about the employment situation should some of the displaced individuals and families choose to carve new lives closer to the waters of New England.

Nuciforo said that the immediate priority is providing some assistance to the hurricane victims.

“I think our obligation is to provide whatever help we can provide,” he said.

Speaking prior to a Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts faculty and staff welcome breakfast on Sept. 6, state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley D-North Adams said that he was considering organizing a fundraiser for the folks who are coming to the state. Bosley said that he is also investigating any resources that may be available to the evacuees.

Bosley said that he planned to travel to Boston immediately following the breakfast to investigate other matters as well. Bosley noted that the gasoline situation in places such as Mississippi is dire and the vehicle fuel situation in Massachusetts requires some attention as well.

Several television news broadcasts reported during Sept. 6 late afternoon newscasts that Romney has said that he will not take any action to reduce the state’s gasoline tax. Such a move could prove financially detrimental to the state, Romney reportedly said, in part because of the arrival of the evacuees.

Romney has reportedly said that he expects the federal government to reimburse the state for costs associated with housing the hurricane victims.

During the MCLA breakfast, college President Mary K. Grant announced that Loyola University-New Orleans campus instructor Maryann Doyle will be teaching two or three courses at MCLA. Doyle has an affiliation with MCLA and according to information posted at the Loyola Internet Website, the New Orleans campus is closed and a re-opening date has not been scheduled. The posted information states that the university received minor damage but because of continuing risks in the area, the school must remain closed.

Grant said that MCLA is working to assist displaced college students, is partnering with Williams College, and is in contact with college officials in Louisiana. One displaced student is expected to arrive on the MCLA campus later this week and more students may be arriving in the future, she said.

Campus fundraisers are being planned to raise money for the relief and aid efforts, Grant said

Pittsfield Fire Department firefighter Michael Aitken, the husband of MCLA employee Rose Aitken, is accompanying three additional Pittsfield firefighters to the Gulf Coast region to aid in the rescue and recovery work, Grant said. Aitken is a trained first responder and grief counselor.

Rose Aitken said that the Pittsfield contingent isn’t certain where they will be sent but they are expected to be in the devastated region for about a month.

But she is certain of one thing.

“We’re very proud of them,” she said.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net or at 802-823-9367.
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