Covington, Ky., aiding Covington, La.
COVINGTON - Two cities named Covington have bound themselves in an informal sister agreement to send water and other provisions to Louisiana.
And refugees from Greater New Orleans can use up to 30 housing units available across Kenton County, Covington has told federal officials. The refugees will have "nothing more than literally the clothes they will be wearing," said City Manager Jay Fossett.
"We probably will know Tuesday" how many, if any, will come, Fossett said. "There's a strong likelihood we'll be asked to participate."
Aside from their names, both Covingtons have one big thing in common: They are linked by bridge to major cities, Cincinnati and New Orleans.
"We consider them one of our sister cities," Mayor Butch Callery said. "We've talked to them on different things before. They're not officially a sister city but we feel they've been hit so hard by this hurricane and everything else.
"They've asked us for water, Gatorade, Powerade, any kind of sports drinks, granola bars, chips, all kinds of snack foods," Callery said about the city of 8,500 residents. "That would really help them, they said."
Callery's city will pay for a rental truck to transport the supplies Wednesday. In the meantime, people can drop them off in the lobby of Covington's police station at Madison Avenue and 20th Street. The lobby is open around the clock.
"We're hoping people will bring it up there this weekend, so we can get it all together," Callery said. "They really got beat up on this. So we said, 'We want to help you out. What do you need?' "
According to a voice-mail message at the Covington, La., City Hall, the building is closed. Residents are told to boil water for drinking, and told that it may be days before power is restored.
"We're encouraging people who have left to stay away in comfortable areas," and city employees should call back Monday for instructions about returning to work, the message said.
The Northern Kentucky Water District already has contributed 275 cases of water to the relief effort, but may give more, Fossett said.
Other assistance also is being considered:
A music fund-raiser is being organized at Covington's MainStrasse in two weeks, with proceeds divided between Covington, La.; and New Orleans. Fossett has been working with city Commissioner Jerry Bamburger, who also is executive director of the MainStrasse Village Association, to organize the event.
Two Covington firefighters may travel to hurricane-torn areas in answer to a national request for firefighter help.
Housing for refugees? "We've also been working with the housing authority and some other areas to try to get some housing provided" in Kentucky, Callery said. "We don't have that all finalized yet."
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development asked the city to look into it, Callery said. HUD officials weren't available to comment late Friday afternoon, but HUD's Web site said the department is identifying "vacant multifamily housing, public housing units, and HUD-owned homes in a 500-mile radius of the affected areas that could be used as temporary housing."
In Newport, most of the 202 public-housing units near where the Licking and Ohio rivers meet are empty because the city has plans to redevelop the area.
Newport Housing Authority Executive Director Joe Condit was not available to comment Friday evening. Newport City Manager Phil Ciafardini, whose city government works closely with the Newport Housing Authority, said he had not heard about the request.
Gov. Ernie Fletcher's office late Friday announced it is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and housing officials to house refugees. But Fletcher's press secretary, Jodi Whitaker, was unable to provide details about Northern Kentucky's part.
"Given this emergency, the federal government has waived certain program requirements," Fletcher's news release said.