Gov. Evers: 'Hundreds or possibly 2,000' Afghan refugees could arrive at Fort McCoy

Gov. Evers: ’Hundreds or possibly 2,000’ Afghan refugees could arrive at Fort McCoy

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MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- As social service agencies in Wisconsin prepare for the arrival of Afghan refugees, Governor Tony Evers said he's been told anywhere from hundreds to possibly 2,000 will be temporarily housed at Fort McCoy. 

"We've heard numbers in the hundreds or possibly 2,000," Evers said. "But that's subject to change, this is a moving target." 

Limited details are known at this time, but Evers said he doesn't expect all those who arrive at Fort McCoy will stay in Wisconsin.  

All of this comes as Wisconsin is gearing up to welcome refugees reeling from the swift and chaotic collapse of the Afghan government.  

Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said Fort McCoy, located between Tomah and Sparta, was selected to temporarily house refugees. Then, social services agencies will help refugees settle into communities.  

Jewish Social Services of Madison, a resettlement network, is prepared to find housing for those who relocate to the area.  

Executive Director Dawn Berney said she expects to provide aid to 26 refugees by the end of September, but notes they could be from anywhere in the world. 

"They all won't necessarily be coming from the crisis in Afghanistan," Berney said. "We know this work is important and it's absolutely the right thing to do -- we're ready to welcome them." 

One challenge for Jewish Social Services is that they rely heavily on fundraising efforts to pay for their services. 

"JSS is a little different in that we try to guarantee four months rent and a security deposit, but don't get that money from the federal government," she said.  

They also try to provide every family or individual with a cellphone and temporary data plan. 

"That's something we're always fundraising for." 

Berney said her agency has helped resettle 61 Afghan refugees, most of those who worked for U.S. government since 2017. 

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