A friend working in New Orleans sends the alert: “I have heard from two folks in the activist community in New Orleans who evacuated to KY and they have been working to address some issues in the shelter in Louisville. They have made a call out for us to ck with our networks about any contacts in Lousville. They need # 1) lawyers or other legal assistance and # 2) other people who would be willing to get email info and respond by making calls to FEMA, Red Cross, mayors office etc.”
She forwards this appeal:
To the Louisville Peace and Justice Community,
As you may know, there are approximately 1,800 Hurricane Gustav evacuees staying right now in a shelter at the Louisville Expo Center, organized by the Red Cross. While much has been done to provide for evacuees’ needs, as FEMA drags its feet and the evacuation drags on, conditions for evacuees are worsening dramatically.
Please take a moment to call and e-mail:
FEMA Director DAVID PAULISON: (202) 646-3900,
the RED CROSS: (502) 589-4450, and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson, (502) 574-2003, http://www.louisvilleky.gov/Mayor/contactusmayor.htm
And tell them that you won’t allow evacuees to be treated this way in your name! Please request that they immediately address the following 4 concerns:
1. Stop police harassment of evacuees. Evacuating is not a crime.
Evacuees have reported harassment from some police officers, merely for walking down the road to the convenience store during the day. They are assumed to be criminals and treated with suspicion and hostility by an ever increasing police presence. The Louisville police should be keeping evacuees safe, not targeting and punishing them during their time of need.
2. Stop unreasonable rationing of food, blankets, clothing and medicine, and give evacuees what they need now.
Due to FEMA’s incompetence, many people lost their luggage and have been wearing the same clothes for almost a week. Yet the Red Cross is only giving out one set of clothes per person, and not everyone has even gotten that. Diabetics have been punished for “hoarding” food when they save snacks to maintain their blood sugar. The Red Cross has piles of food, clothes and blankets, but isn’t giving people what they need.
3. Provide evacuees with up-to-date, accurate information as it becomes available, and provide them with more computers and more phones.
More than anything, evacuees are DESPERATE for information. People need immediate access to phone and internet to find loved ones, check on their homes, apply for FEMA aid, get in touch with employers and landlords, and many other essential and time-sensitive tasks. YET THE RED CROSS AND FEMA HAVE PROVIDED ONLY 20 PHONES and 6 COMPUTERS for 1,800 PEOPLE!
4. AND PLEASE TELL FEMA: Send all evacuees home now, with adequate compensation for money they have lost while evacuated.
Evacuees were brought to shelters across the south by FEMA – who put them on buses and planes without telling them where they were going. In some cases, they were put on different planes than family members, told that they were going to the same city, and then found themselves hundreds of miles away from spouses, parents and children. Gulf Coast parishes, and the New Orleans airport, have all reopened, yet FEMA has yet to get most folks home – or even release a plan to tell them when and how they will get home. Meanwhile, many people have spent everything they had – often dipping into money for rent and utilities – on evacuation expenses, and many have missed work while being stranded so far from home.
FEMA and the Red Cross need to know that people are watching to assure that evacuees don’t have to endure another Katrina. Additionally, the mayor’s office will be open tomorrow, Saturday, from 8am-12pm, so please let them know that you care about how evacuees are treated in your city. And please forward this message to your friends and allies. We very much appreciate your hospitality, and your concern.
Renee Corrigan and Nicole Gillies,
The Greater New Orleans Organizers’ Roundtable