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How Virginia is helping thousands of Afghan allies

Posted at 4:56 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 18:18:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Thousands of Afghan allies who are evacuated out of Kabul this week could start to arrive at Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Virginia this weekend, according to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

Pickett and Marine Corps Base Quantico were picked to help with the processing of refugees so far handled by Fort Lee in Prince George County.

Northam said Virginia has seen 11,000 evacuees so far. About 8,000 of the evacuee went through Fort Lee.

"The average time is about five to seven days," Northam said about the process. "About 10% of them have ended up staying in Virginia."

The governor said it's not known how many more evacuees could come to Virginia, but added Quantico was able to handle up to 5,000 people and Fort Pickett can take 3,800 at the moment -- with plans to build up capacity to take 10,000 if needed.

RELATED: Richmond area funeral homes collect donations for Afghan refugees

Blackstone Mayor Billy Coleburn said there were feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, compassion as the town prepares for the potential arrival.

Coleburn, whose daughter is a reporter at CBS 6, said the community is there to help.

"Let's continue to remain calm and wait for the facts. See what develops," he said.

Senator Mark Warner (D - Virginia) said he was proud of the way Virginia has reacted to the crisis and added that he wanted communities to be assured these bases are serving transition stations for the Afghan evacuees.

"These Afghanis [sic] who are coming in being processed and then we'll move on to host families and host communities around the country," he said.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said as many as 1,500 Americans in Afghanistan may still await evacuation. Blinken said 4,500 Americans have been flown out of the country so far.

Pentagon officials said the U.S. military-led airlift of Americans and others from Kabul will continue until the final hours of next Tuesday. Untold thousands of at-risk Afghans, however, are struggling to get into the Kabul airport.

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