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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU preparing to shelter Hurricane Katrina survivors

New Mexico State University is making preparations to provide shelter for up to 200 residents of New Orleans who survived Hurricane Katrina.

lready are working to ready about 80 rooms in the Regents Row Residence Center for the expected influx of people relocating to the region. Considerations also are being given to establishing a phone bank and limited computer availability to help people reconnect with lost family and friends.

"The university's first priority is to give people a chance to lie down and rest," NMSU President Michael Martin said Tuesday.

All of the university's efforts are being coordinated through the director of the Southwest Chapter of the American Red Cross, Charles Woodward.

Woodward called the Regents Row facilities "more than adequate. In fact, they are luxury condos compared to some of the other shelters in use."

Tom Townsend, emergency management coordinator for Las Cruces and Dona Ana County, said the likelihood of evacuees coming to NMSU is high since those coordinating relief efforts at state and national levels have already assessed the availability of space here. Townsend has asked that those relocating people here think in terms of sending families who could use one of the 80 rooms to help stay together.

The Las Cruces City Council Tuesday approved funds to provide 130 beds with bedding for the evacuees. Those who wish to donate items such as towels, sheets and blankets should coordinate with the Community Action Agency at El Paseo and Wyatt in Las Cruces, Townsend said.

The university also has offered special considerations to assist transfer students who wish to attend classes here. The office of Provost William Flores is working on ways to assist faculty from the Gulf Coast.

"Our hearts are with our fellow citizens from the Gulf Coast who have been affected by this tragedy," Martin said Tuesday as he urged the NMSU campus community to offer "whatever assistance you can during this crisis."

Those wishing to volunteer assistance should contact the Red Cross at (505) 526-2631.