Idaho Evacuee Support Lowest Outside of Dixie 

According to statistics released by the Congressional Research Service in USA Today, Idaho ranks 38th nationally in the amount of monthly welfare benefits provided to Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Interestingly, our $309 monthly cap is also the lowest of any state outside of the deep south itself--and far below front runners Alaska ($925) and California ($723). What gives?

According to Tom Shanahan of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, $309 is the maximum allowable welfare amount for anyone--hurricane victim or not--in Idaho. "That's determined by state law," Shanahan says. He added, however that IDHW is helping the displaced southerners in different, and often more welcome, ways. "Most of them are looking more for help with health and medical," Shanahan said. "Most of them came up here because they have friends and family who can take them up here. But we are helping them with their Medicaid assistance, if they need medical care. Our health districts have also stepped up and said if they need immunizations for them or their kids, they'll provide it." IDHW has also partnered with the United Way of Treasure Valley to provide health and social services support for evacuees through the Idaho CareLine, accessible at 211 through most cell phone carriers, 800-926-2588 on a landline or visiting www.idahocareline.org.

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