DeSoto forgoes Isaac background checks, second shelter opens

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

WFAA

Posted on August 30, 2012 at 11:24 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 31 at 1:30 AM

DeSOTO -- A "miscommunication" over background checks nearly shut down the first Hurricane Isaac evacuee shelter in North Texas.

DeSoto city officials say background checks on evacuees are in the best interest of keeping the shelter at Faith Bible Church safe. But after News 8 reported that, city officials quickly backpedaled at noon Thursday, saying there were no background checks and there won't be any, either.

The Red Cross announced Thursday afternoon a second shelter has opened in Haltom City at Birdville Baptist Church in the 3100 block of Carson Street. It also will not require background checks.

The idea infuriated Kenyon Turner who lost his home in Brathwaite, Louisiana, to Isaac.

"I'm hurting," he said. "And now you're going to make me hurt more? Make me feel like I'm a criminal? That's ignorant."

The Faith Bible Church, whose members are trained by the Red Cross to run their own shelter, also took a stand.

"Just the standard forms they fill out are sufficient," said Rev. Kurt Khron. "We don't need anything further. I don't know what there would be further, anyway."

The shelter in DeSoto has increased in capacity to 40 people who will stay overnight, and around 60 who come in for food and other supplies each day, according to the Red Cross.

By afternoon, city officials met with the Red Cross and the city backed away from the background check policy.

DeSoto Mayor Carl Sherman said it was a miscommunication caused by the Red Cross, which, he said, failed to properly notify the city that it planed to open the shelter.

"I don't have any doubt there was some miscommunication," said Anita Foster with the Red Cross.

DeSoto's emergency manager told News 8 the State did background checks on evacuees during Katrina at a central gathering point, like Mesquite High School.

There are no gathering points for Isaac, so DeSoto planned to do the checks themselves. Even though they won't be checking at the Faith Bible Church shelter, they still say they would consider them in the future.

"The Red Cross actually would not support a community that required background checks," Foster said.

Red Cross officials say they are against background checks because it might deter some people from escaping a dangerous situation, seeking shelter and saving their own life.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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