Building inspectors and social workers fanned out across the hardest hit areas of south Florida Thursday, urging people to leave unsafe homes damaged by Hurricane Andrew.
Stan Makowski, chief building inspector for Homestead, said residents of condemned buildings will be asked to find another place to stay or go to virtually empty tent cities set up by the military.Five tent cities in Homestead and Florida City with room for 3,800 people have been accepting people since Tuesday. The Army has said seven more could be built, bringing the total capacity to 20,000.
Makowski said inspectors wouldn't be too firm with residents, and he didn't know what action they would take if people refused to leave.
U.S. Housing Secretary Jack Kemp, who toured the area Wednesday, questioned the wisdom of creating the huge tent cities and promised to begin rebuilding homes in seven to 10 days.
"With all due respect to the tremendous job the Army is doing to set up tent communities, folks want to protect their castle, their palace, that which they own or control," Kemp said.
Kemp said President Bush will ask for a multibillion-dollar supplemental appropriation for relief and the government will consider building smaller camps in damaged neighborhoods so people can stay closer to what is left of their homes.
As of late Wednesday, nearly 200 people had moved in to tent cities, some of them enjoying their first hot shower in days.
After check-in at a Red Cross tent, Luz Torres, 25, was handed a plastic bag containing a portable radio, batteries, toiletries and stationery. Then a Navy seaman carried the family's bags while another led them to their tent.
"This is wonderful," she said. "This is like a hotel."
State officials said Wednesday that 1.7 million meals had been served at 110 feeding sites and 700,000 pounds of food distributed.
Andrew left an estimated 250,000 people homeless and caused up to $20 billion in damage when it hit on Aug. 24.