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KING: We're back.
Joining us now in Washington is Marty Evans, the President and CEO of the American Red Cross. She traveled with the president today. The Red Cross is not in New Orleans, why?
MARTY EVANS, RED CROSS PRESIDENT AND CEO: Well, Larry, when the storm came our goal was prior to landfall to support the evacuation. It was unsafe to be in the city. We were asked by the city not to be there and the Superdome was made a shelter of last resorts and, quite frankly in retrospect, it was a good idea because otherwise those people would have had no shelter at all.
We have our shelters north of the city. We're prepared as soon as they can be evacuated, we're prepared to receive them in Texas, in other states, but it was not safe to be in the city and it's not been safe to go back into the city. They were also concerned that if we located, relocated back into the city people wouldn't leave and they've got to leave.
KING: Marty, everyone looks at themselves when they're working in some kind of tragedy. Is the Red Cross examining itself saying could we have done more?
EVANS: Larry, we're always looking at that and, you know, in this particular case it's the largest disaster we have ever done in the history, 125 years of the Red Cross and we are determined to do more and more and, in fact, we are.
We're sheltering just under 100,000 people right now. We're gearing up to shelter even more people. We have people sheltered in nine different states, 275 locations, so we will continuously look at what we're doing, see if we can improve it.
And, the other thing I would say is that we're breaking new ground. We're setting up new systems and processes that get rid of the bureaucracy and make it easier for people.
KING: Reverend Jesse Jackson last night was in New Orleans. Tonight he is in Baton Rouge. When you were critical last night, Jesse, some in the administration followed by saying this is not a time for criticism. That may be later but not now. How do you respond?
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW-PUSH COALITION: Well, that's ridiculous. I mean the Red Cross' absence in New Orleans, the high point of the crisis is a disaster. It is a sin. We had no real plan for rescue and relief and relocation.
Last night we went into New Orleans to get -- with ten busses to take out 450 students from Xavier who had been on the bridge for three days and the painful part was we had to leave people who -- the human chain around the busses because they had been there four days and no plan to rescue them.
And then today we went back into New Orleans again on I-10 the causeway and there were like 6,000 people with seven busses. No bus had been there today and wonder why because across the street were 150 empty busses that had no place to take them, so no plan for rescue or for relocation. More people may die from lack of rescue and lack of food and water than from the flood itself. The people have not been very well served.
KING: Marty, how would you respond?
EVANS: Well, Larry, we were asked, directed by the National Guard and the city and the state emergency management not to go into New Orleans because it was not safe. We are not a search and rescue organization. We provide shelter and basic support and so we were depending, we are depending on the state and the agencies to get people to our shelters in safe places.
Originally posted by Phoenix
That National Guard Marty kept refering to was the Louisiana National Guard wholly controlled by Gov. Blanco for the majority of this emergency who abjectly failed to provide leadership.
[edit on 3-9-2005 by Phoenix]
Originally posted by Majic
I'm not going to let FEMA off the hook easily.
Originally posted by Majic
It would be a crying shame if nobody learned from this.
NAGIN: Well, we have approximately 100,000 residents that pretty much depend upon public transportation to get around. So, when we made the call to evacuate the city, they really didn't have that option of leaving.
So, we kind of prepped them and encouraged them to look at more of a vertical evacuation, if you will, make sure that they have access to a home or a building that at least has a second floor, just in case we have, you know, some flooding that we can't control. The second thing we have been telling them is to make sure they're stocked up on supplies and their medicine, and whatever else they would need, water and what have you, to kind of weather the storm and to hunker down and stay off the streets.
CNN Transcript, Threat of Ivan 2004
Nagin said late Saturday that he's having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he's been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses.
The Times-Picayune (NO) Sunday Aug 28, 2005 edition
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."
HH: Joined now by Major Garrett, correspondent for the Fox News Channel, as well as author of The Enduring Revolution, a best seller earlier this year. We talked about that. Major Garrett, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
MG: Hugh, always a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
HH: You just broke a pretty big story. I was watching up on the corner television in my studio, and it's headlined that the Red Cross was blocked from delivering supplies to the Superdome, Major Garrett. Tell us what you found out.
MG: Well, the Red Cross, Hugh, had pre-positioned a literal vanguard of trucks with water, food, blankets and hygiene items. They're not really big into medical response items, but those are the three biggies that we saw people at the New Orleans Superdom, and the convention center, needing most accutely. And all of us in America, I think, reasonably asked ourselves, geez. You know, I watch hurricanes all the time. And I see correspondents standing among rubble and refugees and evacuaees. But I always either see that Red Cross or Salvation Army truck nearby. Why don't I see that?
HH: And the answer is?
MG: The answer is the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, that is the state agency responsible for that state's homeland security, told the Red Cross explicitly, you cannot come.
HH: Now Major Garrett, on what day did they block the delivery? Do you know specifically?
MG: I am told by the Red Cross, immediately after the storm passed.
HH: Okay, so that would be on Monday afternoon.
MG: That would have been Monday or Tuesday. The exact time, the hour, I don't have. But clearly, they had an evacuee situation at the Superdome, and of course, people gravitated to the convention center on an ad hoc basis. They sort of invented that as another place to go, because they couldn't stand the conditions at the Superdome.
HH: Any doubt in the Red Cross' mind that they were ready to go, but they were blocked?
MG: No. Absolutely none. They are absolutely unequivocal on that point.
# Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.
# The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.
# The Red Cross has been meeting the needs of thousands of New Orleans residents in some 90 shelters throughout the state of Louisiana and elsewhere since before landfall. All told, the Red Cross is today operating 149 shelters for almost 93,000 residents.
# The Red Cross shares the nation’s anguish over the worsening situation inside the city. We will continue to work under the direction of the military, state and local authorities and to focus all our efforts on our lifesaving mission of feeding and sheltering.
# The Red Cross does not conduct search and rescue operations. We are an organization of civilian volunteers and cannot get relief aid into any location until the local authorities say it is safe and provide us with security and access.
# The original plan was to evacuate all the residents of New Orleans to safe places outside the city. With the hurricane bearing down, the city government decided to open a shelter of last resort in the Superdome downtown. We applaud this decision and believe it saved a significant number of lives.
# As the remaining people are evacuated from New Orleans, the most appropriate role for the Red Cross is to provide a safe place for people to stay and to see that their emergency needs are met. We are fully staffed and equipped to handle these individuals once they are evacuated.
In other words you are suggesting that the state governments cannot and may not make a request of the federal government unless authorized by the federal government.
Originally posted by djohnsto77
I think by declaring a state of emergency the President just allows State governments to ask the federal government for help. The next step is for the Governor of the State to declare a state of emergency then receive assistance from the Feds.