Evacuee Concerns

"I was hot! I was disappointed that we were being failed by the Red Cross and the government."

Louisiana evacuee Ellis Muldrow is talking about his recent feeling about how he and other evacuees were being treated. However, he has since had a change of heart. That is, after talking with local Red Cross Director Cheri Barry.

"I know a lot of people are hearing what the people are getting from the Red Cross but they see that the Red Cross is not helping them here. The reason is because we were an affected area before the evacuees got here and we did not have the resources to help the people like Houston, Texas or Atlanta, Georgia," says Barry.

With an immediate need to supply water, food and at least temporary shelter to the thousands of evacuees and local families who experienced extensive damage, Barry says her office which has only two full-time disaster officials has been somewhat overwhelmed.

"This is SO massive" says Barry. "We're talking about thousands of people that we're trying to serve with the same staff that we normally serve only a 100 families during a fire."

While evacuees we talked to say they understand the plight of the Red Cross and other agencies, they say they want the community to understand their actions as well.

"You have kids and you don't know what they're going to eat the next day. It's just very, very emotional," says Hancock County evacuee Susan Cole.

"They made us feel like we were beggars! I'm not a beggar! I'm a tax paying citizen!" New Orleans evacuee is talking about her recent experience in dealing with a government agency.

"All of us lost our jobs and our homes that were working families," says Calvert. "I don't abuse the system but when I do need it, don't make me feel belittled when I need it!"

Meanwhile, as for Red Cross officials, they say they hope to have a special service center set up in Meridian by sometime late Wednesday. That center will issue out emergency funding to victims. In the meantime, they're asking all involved to be patient.

"We are doing the very best job we can possibly do under these circumstances," says Barry.


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