Few evacuees here watch Bush speak|[9/16/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 16, 2005

A half-dozen evacuees staying at the Vicksburg Convention Center gathered to watch President Bush’s address to the nation televised live from Jackson Square in New Orleans.

Among them were newlyweds, Bill Caraway, a retired banker from Gulfport, and his bride, Nanka Kassandrova of Bulgaria, whom he married at Crawford Street United Methodist Church last Wednesday.

As the president laid out plans for the daunting task of rebuilding the storm-ravaged city, Carraway was still dazed by the destruction Katrina left behind.

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“All I know is I went through Camille, and it was overwhelming to see what happened down there,” he said of video images of the storm that hit Aug. 29 and eclipsed devastation caused by Camille in 1969.

Numbers are dwindling at local shelters, meaning a consolidation today will involve few families.

Counts completed early Thursday showed 67 evacuees at the convention center, 58 at Bowmar Baptist Church and 35 at First Baptist. Bowmar was closing today, and First Baptist is scheduled to close Saturday morning, both after three weeks of operation. About 20 evacuees staying at the Eagle Lake Baptist Church shelter were said to have already been placed with relatives, meaning only the convention center is expected to continue in use.

Addressing about 20 people at a town hall meeting in the downstairs dining area, block captains of the evacuee-formed “Crescent City” in the downtown center reiterated shelter rules such as dining times, visiting hours and child supervision.

“I’ve asked the people at the other shelters what we should expect (as shelters are consolidated). They say it should only be a few,” said block captain Kevin Bardy of Kenner, La.

At an afternoon briefing, volunteer Larry Strayer of First Baptist said church members raised money throughout the week to finance transitions for as many evacuees as they could.

In other developments: