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Gustav Evacuees Grouse About Treatment

Let’s see, free transportation, shelter and food gets you what kind of gratitude these days?

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Publicly assisted evacuees in Jefferson begin arriving to mixed reviews

by Barri Bronston and Chris Kirkham, The Times-Picayune
Friday September 05, 2008

Publicly assisted evacuees began returning to Jefferson Parish in droves Friday, with some describing the experience as horrendous and others giving their weeklong experience passing marks…

The evacuees offered mixed reviews of their exile that began Aug. 30, as Gustav, then a powerful Category 4 storm packing 140 mph winds, threatened the area.

“This was the first and last time,” said Rakena Holmes of Avondale, who evacuated to Shreveport with several family members, including her wheelchair-bound brother.

“We thought that with my brother being disabled, this would be easier. But it was chaotic. Next time we’ll use our own transportation.”

Holmes said she and 3,000 other people were housed in a vacant Sam’s Club warehouse, where they slept on cots and dined on hot dogs, chicken patties and green beans.

“You’d stand in line for an hour and then they’d run out of food,” she said. “It just wasn’t organized.”

The evacuation was conducted as part of joint evacuation plan between Jefferson Parish and the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.About 7,000 parish residents used the service.

Viola Roussell of Marrero, who also evacuated to Shreveport, said the food was edible but the lines to the restrooms were painfully long. Still, she said, she has no regrets leaving and would do it again.

“It’s better to do this than to stay here and get hurt,” Roussell said.

Holding her 10-month-old daughter, Shakima Hawkins of Houma described her evacuation to the Century-Tel Center in Bossier City as “horrible. There were too many people, and it was scary because I was all by myself.” She said she barely put her daughter down for fear that someone might take her.

Not all evacuees criticized the experience. Floyd Prejean of Marrero said his stay at the Bossier City arena was “nice. The Red Cross was there. The Fire Department was there. It was very well organized. And the food was good.”

Carra Butler of Gretna agreed. “It was a nice place,” she said. “The people were very nice. The Red Cross did a great job. But it was too much trouble to go through. I just as soon stay home and take my chances with the next storm.”

Paige Fuentes of Kenner, who evacuated to Shreveport, said her biggest criticism was the lack of showers — until portable ones were brought in four days into their stay. “And you had to wait in line for everything for food, for coffee and when the showers got there for showers.”

Fuentes said she and her boyfriend lucked out when a couple they met at a local mission invited them to their home to clean up, take a nap and enjoy a home-cooked meal.

Despite the couple’s generosity, Fuentes doubts she will go through such an ordeal again. “I’d prefer to use my own money and get a hotel,” she said.

There is no pleasing some people. And how soon they forget:

But it was too much trouble to go through. I just as soon stay home and take my chances with the next storm.

And so the cycle begins again.

(Thanks to CGardner for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, September 6th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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