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Benedictine University Told To Set Up Potential Shelter For NATO Summit Evacuees

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Benedictine University is preparing to be a shelter for evacuees during the upcoming NATO summit, if necessary. (CBS)

Benedictine University is preparing to be a shelter for evacuees during the upcoming NATO summit, if necessary. (CBS)

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LISLE, Ill. (CBS) — CBS 2 has learned that Benedictine University has been asked by the American Red Cross in DuPage County to set up emergency shelters in case there are evacuations from Chicago during the upcoming NATO summit.

The Lisle campus has been told to plan for as many as 1,000 evacuees.

This follows CBS 2’s exclusive story last week that the Red Cross in Milwaukee has been asked by the city of Chicago and the Secret Service to set up shelters there.

The designated Red Cross shelter would be inside the Rice Fitness Center. Bleachers would be pushed against the wall, and cots would cover the floor.

Benedictine is one of dozens of colleges, universities, community centers or churches standing by just in case Chicagoans must leave their homes because of violence or any other reason connected to the NATO summit.

“Whether it be for a couple of hours because they haven’t been able to contact a family member, or overnight,” Michi Dubes, safety specialist for Benedictine University, tells CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker.

If so, people will have access to showers. Volunteers like Joan Henehan have already signed up to help, and she’s recruiting more.

Volunteers “need to be able to spend the night and work long shifts,” she says.

Meanwhile, a Near South Side church just blocks from McCormick Place is offering itself as a haven to anti-NATO protesters coming in from out of town.

The pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church plans to make full use of its expanse of fenced lawn. He’s agreed to let as many as 60 protesters who will be riding bicycles to Chicago from Wisconsin to camp out for days.

“We feel that this is quite clearly within the mission of the church to identify with these groups who are struggling on the side of the poor,” the Rev. Errol Narain says.

Narain says he’ll be marching himself during the NATO protests.

The idea for the camp site came from the lead Chicago organizers of the summit demonstrations. They’re grateful to the congregation and the pastor.

“It’s particularly powerful when you have a group that is this close to the NATO summit, sending an anti-war message, a pro-people, a pro-99 percent message,” demonstrator Andy Thayer said.

Narain is not worried about church neighbors being upset.

“I believe that the neighbors are truly human beings and move and operate out of a heart of compassion,” he says.

Tiffany White, who lives nearby says she has no problem with protesters camping out, “as long as it is peaceful and they’re not littering and making trash and stuff like that.”

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