Local housing options available for evacuees

Published 11:43 am Friday, May 6, 2011

Warren County residents evacuating homes in north Vicksburg and at Eagle Lake have options for housing in Vicksburg.

On Thursday, the Vicksburg chapter of the American Red Cross opened a basic, immediate shelter at Hawkins United Methodist Church, 3736 Halls Ferry Road, and plans to announce other locations as the weeks progress, emergency services director Janice Sawyer said Thursday.

“We’re looking to open larger shelters, but none have been identified,” she said.

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The shelter at Hawkins can lodge and feed up to 100 people, Sawyer said.

“We’ll have an information table about assistance with the flood,” she said. “People need to show up with proper identification. They know to bring their essentials and their personal items.”

Many people forced to evacuate are staying with family members in the area, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said.

Nine local bed and breakfast inns of the Vicksburg Bed and Breakfast Association are offering discounts of up to 50 percent for flood evacuees, association president Carolyn Stephenson said Thursday.

“That’s what we have to do,” said Stephenson, who is offering a discount at her inn, Annabelle Bed and Breakfast, 501 Speed St. “Everything is subject to availability.”

Also, the inns are offering to match government rates for government officials in town for fighting floods, she said.

A listing of the nine inns and contact numbers is available on the association’s website, www.vicksburgbedandbreakfast.com.

Area hotels have not seen an influx of evacuees with two weeks to go until the Mississippi River crests at 57.5 feet, Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Bill Seratt said.

“They are not filling up the hotel business yet,” he said. “I think this will have a negative impact on the hotel business if (U.S.) 61 North and South closes. It will cut our business artery.”