After Katrina, a plan should have been drawn up that would have kicked evacuations into gear without alll the red tape~ Now there is flooding in many locations and a dam ready to burst~!
The US needs major infrastructure work, which the CCC’s post WW2 used to do~ We need a new workforce to rebuild America from the inside out – but I will leave that for another blog….
Why doesnt it surprise me that Plaquemines Parish went underwater? & other locations too~!!
Why hasnt Fema in 7 yrs not established a plan for mandatory evacuations in flood prone areas?
Why do they make people wait down there to be airlifted from helicopters in 12 ft of water rather than using the Natl Guard before the storm hits & commandeer all available busses in an area to go house to house before it floods out and take all the people to safety??
Why do towns & cities up north of flood prone areas have to take a vote before letting evacuees on buses stay in Red Cross Shelters in their towns??
Why isnt there a mandate in place to override local juristiction to allow shelters in other towns and cities to receive evacuees into shelters that are already set up or being set up?
Why were 20,000 people told the levees would hold overnight when they were already overflowing????
Why does the news seem surprised that people had to sit on top of their roofs this morning as the water levels continued to rise???
These plans should have been drawn up 7 yrs ago!!!!!
The red tape had to be cut then and the model should have been created for all the gulf region~!!!!
This is unacceptable and wrong…
People there without cars, people working paycheck to paycheck can not keep money aside for gas and motels~!!
People without cars or resources can not be left to suffer in floods before the govt sends in the troops to save them.They need to be saved before the levees break~!!
They needed to be moved out before the storm hit~!!!
What good is knowing a storm is coming when you have no where to go???
PP didnt get fed money to upgrade their levees when New Orleans did~ How insane is that?????
Why cant those who profit most from the Gulf pay a tax to make the shorelines safe in storms and not just from oil leaks???? Why cant the big oil companies pay to secure the shorelines?
It would save lives in a storm as well as the wetlands in an oil slick!!!
After Katrina and the BP Oil disaster, Fema should have developed contingency plans for all this~!!!
All they need to use is common sense~!
In Katrina, hundreds of school and city buses sat in parking lots and garages and ended up under water. They could have been used to evacuate thousands before the flood waters hit.
While Salvation Army & Red Cross set up shelters in many neighboring cities, the cities were not neighborly~!! City Counsels met and denied staging areas so there were no places to bus the people to!!They piled in the stadiums and the sewers backed up from the flood waters and within several hours people had to go to the bathroom on the floors~ The bathrooms had all overflown.They were stuck inside in their stench.There was no clean running water and no where for the drainage~!! They were there , 1000s of people , for several days and then brought to the Houston Stadium and it began all over except they did have running water.Stadiums were never designed to handle 1000’s living in them for days at a time but they did. WHY???
Because many places didnt want the evacuees in their towns~!! I was the Red Cross Shelter Manager in Lawton Oklahoma for Katrina. I opened 2 shelters the same week Katrina hit. We were denied access to the Emergency City Hall meeting that was to have approved opening the Armory to allow buses to bring evacuees that would have been placed in our shelters.The only evacuees we were allowed to take in were ones who could make it to our shelters on their own~!!
The paid Red Cross staff left me in charge and they all vanished out of town and didnt answer their cell phones for 5 days. I had lists of volunteers and made schedules for them to come into shelter and help.I gathered all the phone slips and merged and organized them into categories of available help that was called in as the staff was throwing the messages on the floors to be thrown out~!!
They were only keeping the messages for those donating money to the Red Cross~!!
I was appalled by that but realized everyone was stressed to the max and no one was in charge knowing what to do. I organized the mess and began sending evacuees into new homes that the community and surrounding towns were offering.
When officials from the main Red Cross came down from Tulsa, they told me that my shelter was the most efficient shelter running in all of Oklahoma and one official asked where all the documentation came from and I told him I created it and he said it was exactly what was needed and asked to use it in other shelters and I told him of course he could. He asked where were the paid staff and I said I didnt know as they were gone for over 5 days.
A few days later my son’s unit at Ft Sill was leaving for Iraq. I took a few hours off that day and went to the ceremonies when he and his men left for Iraq. I then went back to the shelter. I had clocked 176 hours in just little over 11 straight days of running the shelter.It was running well.
A woman called me, that had her husband and child were staying at a trailer of a relative in town for a few days after getting out from New Orleans, but they were afraid of coming into shelter and being separated. Her husband had injured his back during evacuation and their baby was 35lbs and I told her to come to the one shelter and gave them a room as it was available.
I also had the resource list I made copies of from all the called in services the community had offered and was able to pair them off with a church that had offered 10 cottages for 10 families. The cottages were originally for migrant farm workers and vacant but had 2 bedrooms each , were small but would fit small families. The church members had gone into each one, painted and then furnished each one and filled the kitchens~!! They wanted to provide new beginnings for some of the evacuees.
The Kelly family was the first match that was willing to go to one of the houses .They had been in shelter overnight and I had arranged a doctors appointment for Mr.Kelly to get his back medicine and then to go meet the Pastor of the church and see the house. 3 hours later the Kellys returned to the shelter to pick up their clothing and moved into their new house~!!! Everyone in shelter cheered for them.
Next day the paid Red Cross staff returned. They asked where were the Kelly’s??
One of my staff replied that they got their new house and moved out of shelter and into their new home.
The Red Cross Staff member exclaimed “They werent in shelter 24 hours, now WE wont get out FEMA reimbursements for them~!!
I gasped~! What is it all about anyway???
I failed to realize that to the Red Cross, the evacuees were just a commodity used to gain federal funds first and meeting their needs was to be a process that was meant to make money for the Red Cross.
She told me I was micromanaging.She said now she was going to take over running the shelter more than 2 weeks AFTER the Hurricane hit and I already had it running better than all the rest…
I was exhausted, burned out and ready to turn over control. I needed a break after 3 wks of nonstop working there. I was glad that the paid staff had finally returned to do their jobs~!!
I went back to my Red Cross ‘volunteer job’ of working at the Ft Sill Hospital clinic and then went back to Pennsylvania.
Now, 7 years later~~~
I am shocked that Fema has not established a mass evacuation plan.
- They need mandated “authority” to establish staging areas in all available surrounding cities so that buses of evacuees can be brought there and then sent out to the Salvation Army & Red Cross Shelters~!!!This can not be left to the local city counsels as they have previously and still can vote against allowing or providing a place for buses to unload. There ar 65 people placed on a bus and many shelters hold up to 50 or less.Because of this, buses can not unload as pandamonium would break out. The buses then have to go on to the next city and keep going til one city has a staging area. I was in Lawton Oklahoma during Katrina. I helped establish 2 shelters there, one which could hold only 40 people and the other that held 51 people. Buses from the Stadium in Texas were coming and were diverted away from Lawton because they couldnt discharge the passegers as there was no staging area. We had requested that the Armory be opened as a staging area for passengers to come to and be processed into other smaller shelters that were made available through churches and other organizations. The Lawton City Counsel voted against opening the Armory and we were excluded from their meeting!!!This was done because of the negative press coverage of the Walmart that was ‘looted’ by survivors of the flood and thus they all were stereotyped as undesirables~!!!! It was an unfair assumption as even police and emergency personell were ‘looting’~ mostly for survival needs but some cameraman caught people carrying out TVs~ It was foolish, yes, but they didnt get far as once the TVs went underwater that was it anyway. Walmart actually gave gift cards of $125 per evacuee to buy new clothes.Walmart was very gernerous to all the victims of Katrina~!!!
- When a flood is imminent – EVACUATION – must be provided~!!!During Katrina many buses were left to be flooded in parking lots~Its insane to me that they didnt learn from all the sub-comittee hearings, that were held after Katrina, that they would argue over the number of how many buses were flooded , rather than that whatever buses they had, should have been used to evacuate people~!Read this: About the Buses that flooded in Katrina
Yet when you see who it was that was too busy arguing that it wasnt 2000 buses but 324, that idiot totally missed the point – The point being that no one ordered the buses to go evacuate people and that Natl Guard could have been used to enforce the evacuation~ The buses could have been used to save lives, rather then being left to be flooded out along with the residents. The contentious politician instead strains on a gnat while swallowing a camel~!!
The Natl Guard, already mobilized in disasters, should lend drivers where none are available and all bus drivers too of both school districts and public transportation systems should be sent BEFORE the flood to every street in a town or parish and the Guard need to be sent ‘house to house’ BEFORE the flood and compel the residents to get their necessities and get on the bus!!!
- The buses should then go to the nearest safe ‘Staging Area’ to unload the passengers so they can be processed into emergency shelters, til the storm’s threat is passed~ This would be far more ‘cost effective’ than having to do water rescues and air lifts AFTER the floods hit and so many are forced on to rooftops, injured and many children, disabled and elderly DIE in the process~! This all can be avoided by mandatory evacuations and giving the residents a place to go.
- People who have cars should have option to drive their own vehicles and be given a voucher to get gasoline to make it to safety.Many people tend to stay in their homes, not because they want to but because they dont have the gas to get to safety – some work paycheck to paycheck and often storms hit when people dont have the money to evacuate. Vouchers before the storm to give them gas to get away to safety is more cost effective than airlifting them out off their roofs~!
- Motel Vouchers or /Motel commandeering should be implemented so those who can drive away from the storm can find lodging that they just need to provide proof of their address as being part of the evacuation.Those who can pay should but those who can not pay should not be turned away but provide proof of residence. Evacuees being registered by the motel owner should then be in contact with a FEMA or the Red Cross. An Intake worker should be dispatched to do a Fema intake on the evacuee. This will also provide documentation for Fema reimbursements for sheltering costs. Families should stay in their own room. Single evacuees should be relocated to the nearest Red Cross Shelter as soon as possible. This will also free up the motel room for other families in need.
- Disaster Areas that have ruined homes~ where evacuees can not return. Plans need to be established for assisting evacuee to a new home location when warranted. If area that they resided in can not provide clean water, sewers and utilities and drivable roads – then counseling and direction planning needs to be implemented to assist evacuee in relocation. This is done one on one and when Katrina hit, I contacted the local HUD office and their director came to the shelter in Lawton with expedited applications to enable evacuees to obtain permanent housing ASAP. I also contacted local realtors and they agreed to waive certain fees for evacuees and helped them get into new housing.
- Job Assistance – Evacuees in shelters were assisted in job searches, transportation provided for job interviews and support provided in way of bus passes or tickets , gas vouchers for those who had cars and rides for those needing rides to appointments when no public transportation was available. This should be done for all displaced evacuees that need this service.
- Social Services – Evacuees that are single parents or disabled or unemployed due to displacement – have been brought to Assistance Offices in the cities they are being sheltered at, and residential requirements need to be waived [usually 30 day waiting periods] and benefits expedited to help evacuated families get reestablished and seek housing.There needs to be a uniform method of handling this and protocals established for all locations.
Now if these simpler common sense things are implented, lives will be saved in future disaters~!!
What happened in Plaquemines Parrish and other flooded areas need not have become a human catastrophy~!!
The Army Corps of Engineers were contacted when the levees were overflowing~They told the Parrish President to not make a mandatory evacuation~ People were left to stay and assured the levees would hold~!! Then they began losing power and levees broke at night~!! Some residents were climbing on their roofs at 4am~!!and awaited several hours in the pouring rain til help arrived to rescue them.
How many will have died before this is over??? Now people have to brave the elements, soaking wet waiting for boats or helicopters to come~!! Would a bus yesterday accompanied by a Natl Guardsman’s evacuation order have been more safe, civil and cost effective.
Why wasn’t this plan or a similar common sense plan be part of the Declaration of Emergency????