All Hurricane Refugees in Arkansas Expected to be in More Permanent Housing Soon

OCTOBER 13, 2005 - Posted at 8:17 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - State officials say they are optimistic that all 1,500 Hurricane Katrina refugees still living in shelters and church camps will be moved to more permanent housing soon.  They say that will occur either by President Bush's October 15 target date, or soon after this weekend.

About 75,000 people fled to Arkansas after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on August 29 followed by Hurricane Rita on September 24.  As of yesterday, there were 29,756 refugees still living in the state, and 46 shelters and eleven church camps still operating - all according to the governor's office.

Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Director Wayne Ruthven said moving 1,500 people to new quarters will be challenging, but that agency is working aggressively to meet the date.

Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Governor Huckabee, said the governor's office is hopeful that all the church camps will be able to close soon.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)