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Hurricane evacuees begin arriving at Kentucky Air Guard Base

A group of hurricane evacuees from New Orleans boards a bus at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville for transportation to a Red Cross Shelter on Aug. 30. The 178 evacuees arrived at the Kentucky Air Guard Base aboard a commercial airliner at 9:20 p.m. Eastern Time. (Photo by Capt. Dale Greer, Kentucky Air National Guard.)

A group of hurricane evacuees from New Orleans boards a bus at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville for transportation to a Red Cross Shelter on Aug. 30. The 178 evacuees arrived at the Kentucky Air Guard Base aboard a commercial airliner at 9:20 p.m. Eastern Time. (Photo by Capt. Dale Greer, Kentucky Air National Guard.)

A group of hurricane evacuees from New Orleans boards a bus at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville for transportation to a Red Cross Shelter on Aug. 30. The 178 evacuees arrived at the Kentucky Air Guard Base aboard a commercial airliner at 9:20 p.m. Eastern Time. (Photo by Capt. Dale Greer, Kentucky Air National Guard.)

A group of hurricane evacuees from New Orleans boards a bus at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville for transportation to a Red Cross Shelter on Aug. 30. The 178 evacuees arrived at the Kentucky Air Guard Base aboard a commercial airliner at 9:20 p.m. Eastern Time. (Photo by Capt. Dale Greer, Kentucky Air National Guard.)

A group of hurricane evacuees from New Orleans boards a bus at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville for transportation to a Red Cross Shelter on Aug. 30. The 178 evacuees arrived at the Kentucky Air Guard Base aboard a commercial airliner at 9:20 p.m. Eastern Time. (Photo by Capt. Dale Greer, Kentucky Air National Guard.)

A group of hurricane evacuees from New Orleans boards a bus at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville for transportation to a Red Cross Shelter on Aug. 30. The 178 evacuees arrived at the Kentucky Air Guard Base aboard a commercial airliner at 9:20 p.m. Eastern Time. (Photo by Capt. Dale Greer, Kentucky Air National Guard.)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- As Hurricane Gustav continued to gain intensity in the Gulf of Mexico tonight, hundreds of New Orleans-area evacuees began arriving by aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here for transportation to Red Cross shelters across the state of Kentucky.

The first airplane, a commercial 757, arrived from New Orleans at 9:20 p.m. Eastern Time with 178 Louisiana Gulf Coast residents. A U.S. Navy C-9 followed about an hour later with 71 passengers, and additional flights are expected in the next 24 hours.

Kentucky disaster preparedness officials have made arrangements to accept up to 4,250 evacuees statewide, said John W. Heltzel, director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management.

About 3,000 of those displaced persons will be bused to a Red Cross shelter at the state fair grounds in Louisville, while approximately 750 will be sent to shelters in Lexington. The remaining evacuees, if any, will be housed at shelters in Bowling Green and Owensboro, Mr. Heltzel said.

More than 160 Kentucky Air Guard troops volunteered on this Labor Day weekend to assist with initial relief efforts, said Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini, Kentucky's adjutant general, and more stand ready to assist if needed for additional operations.
 
"I'm extremely proud of the commitment that our Kentucky Air Guard troops have made to help their fellow Americans in this time of need," General Tonini said. "These citizens are facing the prospect of devastating hurricane damage for the second time in just three years, and we're happy to help in any way we can."

Mr. Heltzel noted that the hurricane evacuation is a multi-agency effort calling on the resources of federal, state and local governments, as well as The American Red Cross.

"This is a great example of agencies working together as one team," he said.