I read that the NG turning away people with boats who want to help in the rescue effort in another article...........................
BUREACRACY IS KILLING PEOPLE. STOP THIS BULLSHIT.
Red Cross bureaucracy causing frustrations
By Billy Gunn
(318) 487-6378 It's been a week since Hurricane Katrina evacuees started arriving, dazed and heartbroken, fearing for loved ones and what the future holds.
Many escaped with little clothing, their kids and pets in tow, not much money in their pockets, jobs vanquished.
They grew roots quickly wherever in Cenla they landed: small churches and campgrounds, at least one hotel that let them live in lobbies and fed them.
It was the closest thing to home they've had, and Central Louisiana welcomed them with bountiful generosity.
However, some of the refugees and those who have helped them are frustrated with the Red Cross and its intractable bureaucracy, its tendency to look to the rule book before taking a step, whether it be registering evacuees for shelters and getting help from sorely needed volunteers.
Also, the Red Cross-mandated migrating of evacuees from small shelters to large is ripping some from the small venues where they feel safe to much larger ones where people are placed hundreds to a room with no privacy and a shortage of bathrooms.
Leann Murphy, CEO of the American Red Cross of Central Louisiana, said her agency is in "crisis mode," they're doing the best they can and that she understands the frustrations of evacuees and volunteers alike.
Just walk in the Red Cross' command central on Jackson Street, and one encounters a house almost mad: volunteers dodging each other, cellular phones' different tones sing, a closed door for a much-needed private moment.
But the enormity of the crisis, the influx of refugees (on Saturday the number at approved Red Cross shelters in Central Louisiana was 6,000, with thousands more staying elsewhere), doesn't seem to bring a change in Red Cross procedures.
"The Red Cross, they are ridiculous," said Tim Murry, a manager at Alexandria's Holiday Inn Convention Center, where 100 to 200 evacuees have lived since Katrina's landfall.
The hotel, like many other places with no Red Cross assistance, has sheltered and fed the southeastern Louisiana residents, or former residents, since they arrived: some yesterday, some a week ago.
Murry said he and Raj Patel, whose family owns the inn, on Friday tried to get the temporary tenants registered with the Red Cross but were met with resistance because of the emergency agency's steadfast adherence to its rules.
Before registering, the hotel would have to demand that evacuees leave, then they'd have to find a registration center and fill out a form supplied by a certified Red Cross volunteer, Murry said.
As a compromise, Murry and Patel offered to bring registration forms to the hotel and have evacuees fill them out there to keep their tenants, many of whom have not a buck for gasoline, off the road.
And, they said, the Alexandria Riverfront Center is connected to the Holiday Inn, just steps away.
The Riverfront is one of four big Red Cross shelters in Rapides Parish that continues to take on evacuees; two busloads of New Orleans evacuees arrived Friday night.
But those staying at the Holiday Inn, where in banquet rooms they've made makeshift beds out of chairs, couldn't walk up stairs and register, Murry said.
"I just said screw it. I'm keeping them," Patel said. "The important thing is that they register with FEMA."
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is a critical link to those displaced and needing federal assistance.
Evacuees at the Holiday Inn said Red Cross volunteers did come and tell them about the procedures and what the agency required.
It wasn't a good exchange, said those who've constructed boundaries where families can keep a semblance of privacy in the inn's banquet room.
The Red Cross volunteer "came barging in here and said that we're destructing the hotel," said Christina Rosa of Metairie, who didn't remember the volunteer's name. "They said the hotel does not want you."
"We had problems with the Red Cross being kinda rude to us," said Sharon Sam of New Orleans.
Both women said the generosity of Central Louisiana and especially Patel and the Holiday Inn staff was a godsend: all were fed, local pastors came by to see check on them, local Salvation Army volunteers supplemented their needs, they felt safe.
But, Marco Sosa said, "This changed a lot of people's mind about the Red Cross."
In the Riverfront Center, hundreds lay on cots and milled around in the over-cooled complex Saturday, and Marion Smith missed the smaller confines of Northwood Elementary, where she and other St. Bernard Parish evacuees had stayed.
"I loved it there," she said. "It's so crowded here."
Then Cynthia Jate, who drove the St. Bernard bus passengers to safety, told Smith, "I got hold of your son. Pack your bags, he's coming (from Houston) to get you."
Stunned and teary, Smith said nothing, just listened.
"He said he's been to Marksville to Mississippi, Lafayette, lookin' for you," Jate said. "He's so tickled."
Jate told other St. Bernard residents "anything's better than here. You don't know these people.
"All the St. Bernard people, I'm trying to get them out," said Jate, clearly in charge.
Leatha Basco also is mad at the Red Cross.
Though disabled, she thought she could do something, anything, for refugees pouring in from the southeastern part of the state.
So, she left Forest Hill Friday morning and drove to the Rapides Parish Coliseum's Exhibition Hall, one of the big-venue Red Cross shelters, the one landmark she knew how to get to.
She put in a couple of hours, cleaning the restrooms and helping by lending her cellular phones to refugees desperate to find loved ones and wanting news on their homes.
Basco then attended training, where "they said that if you can't put in eight, 12, 24 hours (at a time), they don't want you. I just got up and walked out."
"There's a lot of people out there that give a little time," she said. "I guess I'm good enough to clean the toilet but not good enough for anything else."
Murphy, the Red Cross CEO, said her manpower resources are stretched thin, and that might deviate from agency rules and let volunteers work shorter hours.
The minimum-hours rule, she said, is in place for more orderly scheduling.
The Red Cross unfortunately is a victim of their own success in many ways, and also from their past problems. The bureaucracy needed to handle blood supplies and monetary donations is horrendous, this bureaucratic mess and need for documentation and accounting has oozed into other portions and good ideas and lessons learned have resulted in policies based on those good things. Example say a "kitchen " or housing unit can handle 500 people a day. 3 smaller shelters with 200 people require 3 kitchen or shelter units, but by combining into one large shelter, you can probably get by with a single kitchen or shelter unit. Which frees up 2 for other shelters. Good things, maximizes assets. Unfortunately this has morphed into, YOU WILL combine rather than try to combine.
And a lot of their volunteers are older and have little or no experience in thinking or acting outside the box. And for legal reasons will rely on policies as iron bound rules rather than guidance.
Plus I think that everybody down there is still in the overwhelmed stage and we are only seing snapshots. I know a few guys that went in on DMAT teams and the numbers are staggering. I think we will all be surprised by the final counts in every category. Number helped, numbers evac'd, numbers rescued, numbers dead, etc.
Have they set up "relief" stations that charge for coffee and water yet?
The Red Cross is corrupt in my opinion.
The Red Cross f**ked up things at the Astrodome too.
They asked Houstonians to bring food, water and other things to the Dome parking lot, which Houstonians did in grand fashion. Thousands of people drove down there to donate. It was a good sight to see.
Enter the Red Cross idiots: they were so disorganized (no leader) that they couldn't find a way to move all those donations 100 yards into the Astrodome where the refugees so desperately need them -
so they closed the gates to the parking lot and turned away the donations.
Screw the RC, I took my donations down there MYSELF and handed them to some folks from NOLA.
Wonder how many nice shiny new trucks they will buy with the
Katrina relief money?
Seems like there was a big Congressional hearing about 9/11 families not receiving the promised aid after millions were donated. I'll donate to a church with a plan or the Salvation Army first. I know they are pouring themselves into relief down here.
+1 on the Salvation Army