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Governor: Utah May House Hurricane Refugees

Governor: Utah May House Hurricane Refugees

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If you'd like to help or house someone, call 866-873-2437 (starting Thursday) SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah is ready to accept up to 1,000 people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Gov. Jon Huntsman said Wednesday.

The state of Louisiana asked for help housing the refugees, he said.

"We did a quick calculation as to what we could accommodate immediately and we came up with 1,000," Huntsman said. "I'm glad Utah is seen as a community that will reach out charitably."

The displaced residents would likely stay in housing at the Army National Guard's Camp Williams in Draper or at an overflow shelter in Midvale, both Salt Lake City suburbs.

The state can provide such basic services as shelter, food, clothing and schooling for children.

It is not clear how soon people might be relocated to Utah, but once here they could stay for up to four months, Huntsman said.

He also said that Utah is prepared to send up to 200 Utah National Guard troops to the area immediately if needed.

The Utah departments of health, public safety and homeland security also are prepared to assist in rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts, he said.

"This could be the state of Utah we're talking about. We're doing it for our neighbors this time, but it could well have been Utah," Huntsman said.

Also Wednesday, pallets of sleeping bags and other relief supplies were transferred from the Mormon church's central storehouse to trucks headed to Louisiana and Mississippi. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has 14 truckloads of supplies including food, water and tents en route to the hurricane-ravaged region.

And the Best Friends Animal Society, which operates an animal sanctuary in southern Utah, has volunteered to work with animal rescue groups and local officials to help reunite people with their pets.

"Local authorities are prohibiting or strongly discouraging people from returning to homes they have evacuated," said regional coordinator Paul Berry, who is directing Best Friends efforts on the Gulf Coast. "So as we gather details of where pets were left behind, we'll be working with all the other rescue teams and organizations to pick them up and reunite them with their families."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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