Illinois Welcomes Hurricane Katrina Victims

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Officials say the thousands of evacuees from the Gulf Coast region who should begin showing up in Illinois this week might be staying for a year or more. Governor Rod Blagojevich's office says the state will provide as many as ten thousand displaced Hurricane Katrina victims free housing, clothing and medical care in coming weeks.

State Senate President Emil Jones says the evacuees could remain for more than a year as the affected areas of the Gulf Coast work to rebuild. The state will open up vacant public housing, health facilities and military bases to hurricane victims in the Chicago area, Springfield, Alton and other parts of the state.

The governor is calling on state residents and organizations to help donate money, food and other items.

Flags on all public buildings, military facilities, and embassies will be flown at half-staff until September 20th. President Bush gave the order, calling it "a mark of respect" for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.