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Stylish seized clothing headed to refugees|
Tue Sep 6, 2005 4:09 PM ET
HOUSTON, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Three truckloads of fashion clothing seized by government agents for violating import quotas arrived at Houston's Astrodome on Wednesday so Hurricane Katrina refugees there can put it to use.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection delivered about 100,000 items of summer clothing, with an estimated value of $2.3 million, and said much more is on the way to evacuees elsewhere.
"We normally would either sell this merchandise or destroy it," said Robert Trotter, the agency's director of field operations. "Or we would donate it on a smaller scale."
Some of the items are fakes, but Trotter said most are legitimate.
The hurricane relief operation, aimed at the more than 1 million Gulf Coast residents displaced by Katrina last week, will involve a total of $168 million worth of clothing.
The items delivered on Tuesday, much of it with designer labels like Fubu and Code Blue, were handed to the Red Cross and local church officials who were to distribute it.
"They will be able to tell us specifically what they want and a personal shopper will go back and get it for them," said Mike Firenza of St. Luke's Methodist Church. "It will be one of the finest-dressed shelters that there's ever been."
The Astrodome, a 40-year-old sports stadium that had fallen into disuse recently, housed about 16,000 refugees on Tuesday. Three other major shelters in Houston housed a total of 10,000.