Evacuees Not Told Where They Were Going

Evacuees Not Told Where They Were Going

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- It wasn't confusion that prevented Hurricane Katrina evacuees from learning they were headed to Utah. it was intentional.

Jervis Bergeron was among the first batch of 152 evacuees to arrive at the National Guard's Camp Williams training site 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. The number rose to about 600 by late Sunday.

Bergeron said he knew where Utah was, but nobody told him that's where they were going.

Like others who arrived in smaller military planes, Bergeron wasn't told where he was headed when he boarded the JetBlue airliner Saturday at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

National Guard officials asked a reporter and photographer aboard two separate military planes not to identify their news organizations or tell the refugees where the planes were going.

They said some refugees on earlier flights complained or refused evacuation when told where they were going.

Michael Widomski of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says keeping destinations a secret wasn't an official policy decision, but more likely a last-minute response to trying circumstances.

He said it would be great to provide air service to wherever they want, but that's not logistically possible.

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

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