Global & Disaster Medicine

Emergency managers in Louisiana turned to the Red Cross when record floods swept the state in March, but many say they received little help.


Regional Directors Meeting 28 June 2016

Talking Points on American Red Cross

Concerns Continuity of Personnel- High turnover has caused confusion as to the proper Point of Contact for local Directors when attempting to contact ARC. This is an issue not only during disaster response but for planning purposes as well.

Communications with local Directors- Opening/closing shelters without notifying local OHSEP. Not returning telephone calls/emails.

Evacuation Support – Food, Snacks and Water for Parish Pick Up Points

Shelter Support – Lack of support in shelter management and wrap around services during recent shelter operations in St.John/Ouachita/Calcasieu Parishes

How does the ARC propose to support the Point to Point/Blended shelter operations that they are committed to which include the following: Natchitoches NSU-PE Majors Building 500 evacuees from St. Bernard West Carroll Lingo Center 450 evacuees from St. John Ouachita Marbles Recreation Center 465 evacuees from St. John Adler Recreation Center 496 evacuees from St.John Johnson Recreation Center 452 evacuees from St.John West Monroe Sports Complex 250 evacuees from Plaquemine Robinson Center 445 evacuees from Lafourche Benoit Center 576 evacuees from Lafourche Powell Street Community Center 452 evacuees from Lafourche. This totals a commitment to 9 facilities with a total number of 4,086 evacuees.

Note: ARC was committed to the Monroe Civic Center in Ouachita Parish for 3000 Terrebonne Parish evacuees. Because of the concern that the ARC could not provide support for this facility, shelter management has been contracted with the Oklahoma Shelter Team. The same is true of the facilities at Grambling State University for 1000 evacuees.

General Concern Statewide there is a serious concern among Parish OHSEP Directors as to whether the ARC is prepared to provide the disaster response services that they traditionally have delivered.

The Red Cross response:  

This past spring, the American Red Cross responded to devastating floods across Louisiana to help thousands of people in need, and we stand by that response. More than 1,100 Red Cross volunteers delivered vital humanitarian aid and critical relief services there over the course of 10 weeks. More than half of those volunteers are residents of the state and dedicated members of the community, and throughout this spring flooding event, were committed to alleviating the suffering of over 9,000 of their neighbors in 37 of the state’s 64 parishes.

You have asked us to comment on a handful of emails and quotes from four emergency managers and three residents out of the 37 parishes and the 9,000 Louisianans we served regarding a complicated response effort spanning more than half of Louisiana. Very simply, these emails and quotes are not representative of the Red Cross response in Louisiana.

Throughout the entire Louisiana relief operation, Red Cross volunteers – funded by the generosity of donors from across the country – helped parish governments, community partners, and flood survivors meet their disaster needs through the provision of 30 shelters, 29 mobile feeding vehicles, 12 relief item distribution sites, 5 feeding sites, and 4 mobile kitchens. Red Cross volunteers also disbursed emergency cash assistance to more than 8,000 Louisianans to assist with their immediate needs.

Every day, the Red Cross takes decisive and actionable steps with our partners across the country to improve operational readiness and relationships with emergency management officials and community leaders. We also engage in candid conversations about the capacity and capabilities of our organization to best serve disaster victims. The Red Cross, as a donor-funded, volunteer relief organization, remains committed and ready to always seek the best outcomes for the communities we proudly live in and serve.

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