FEMA: One Year After Katrina, Arkansas Has Spent Nearly $44 Million on Evacuee Assistance

AUGUST 28, 2006 - Posted at 7:43 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - This week marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and many people who fled the Gulf Coast still remain in Arkansas.  Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency say nearly 4,000 hurricane evacuees are still in Arkansas, and that's down from a high of 15,000 evacuees, shortly after the Category 3 hurricane hit.

Thousands of refugees fled to Arkansas as Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, first filling hotels and then flying in to Fort Chaffee in western Arkansas before being processed and teken to camps statewide.  Even more arrived after Hurricane Rita struck the Louisiana and Texas coasts in September.

FEMA officials estimate that the state has spent more than $44 million on refugee assistance.

David Maxwell, director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, says the state is finalizing an agreement with Lousiana on the number of people Arkansas could shelter if another hurricane strikes the Gulf Coast.  Maxwell says the state is prepared to take as many as 4,000 evacuees from Louisiana, not counting those who may evacuate on their own.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)