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Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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State not likely to get large number of evacuees

OLYMPIA — Washington is not likely to get a large number of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, Gov. Christine Gregoire said today.

State officials had offered shelter for up to 2,000 evacuees driven from their Gulf Coast homes by last week's hurricane.

But Gregoire, after a conference call with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and other governors, said large groups of evacuees were not likely to come to Washington any time soon.

"Secretary Chertoff said there are now no mass evacuations to other states imminent," Gregoire said in a statement.

Gregoire noted, however, that small numbers of evacuees have arrived in Washington on their own and are seeking assistance. She urged them to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Red Cross officials in Western Washington reported yesterday that dozens of people fleeing Katrina had begun showing up at the charity's offices looking for help.

State emergency management officials at Camp Murray, south of Tacoma, said they could use extra time to prepare for any future possible evacuations to Washington.

Large groups of evacuees had been expected to arrive tomorrow at the earliest, and plans had called for them to stay at military bases for the immediate future.

"Folks down there understandably prefer to stay as close to the gulf as possible, and we are anything but close," Gregoire spokeswoman Althea Cawley-Murphree said. "They appreciate the generous offer, but are not feeling a need to accept it."

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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