"Even though Alabama has suffered, we're going to take the lead in reaching out to others in need. Obviously our first priority is serving the needs of our own citizens – and we will, but this is a catastrophe that stretches beyond borders and hundreds of thousands are searching for a place to call home," Governor Riley said. "My goal with Operation Golden Rule is to find housing for 10,000 hurricane victims. That's why our state government is looking to mobilize every available space for those who are suffering."
Governor Riley has tasked all agencies and his cabinet members to seek out possible solutions to this horrific problem.
Governor Riley toured two former military installations, Fort McClellan in Anniston and Mobile Middle Bay Port, to look at former military housing that could possibly be used to house hurricane victims on a long-term basis. The Governor is also considering opening closed mental health facilities as part of the effort to assist neighboring states.
Governor Riley will recommend the locations to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA will evaluate each facility to determine if it can be used for housing evacuees and will then decide who will reside in the facilities.
"Under this program I hope we see more communities step forward to help those in need like Ozark, which adopted Bayou La Batre and is sending citizens over to help," Governor Riley said. "Alabamians are already coming together to help storm victims at short-term assistance communities. Now with Operation Golden Rule we will help with their long-term needs."
On Wednesday, Governor Riley announced that evacuees will be able to stay at hotels, cottages and trailer sites in Alabama's 22 state parks. FEMA is supplying several hundred travel trailers which will serve as long-term housing to evacuees.
To be eligible for the assistance, evacuees must register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.
The second component to Operation Golden Rule is the creation of the Governor's Emergency Relief Fund to help meet the needs of Alabama citizens who are not covered by insurance or Federal Emergency Management Agency claims resulting from a disaster or emergency.
Governor Riley said the fund will, "help give citizens the extra help they need to get their lives back to normal and cover unmet costs."
Contributors may send checks made payable to the "Alabama Governor's Emergency Relief Fund" to:
Alabama Governor's Emergency Relief Fund
P.O. Box 1523
Montgomery, AL 36102
Credit card and debit card donations are being accepted through the Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives' website http://www.servealabama.gov.