You might think, "How horrible for it to happen again-- these New Orleaners must be cursed!" or "The hurricane is five days out and the projected path includes the whole gulf coast-- aren't they over reacting?"
My first thought (because I'm a horrible person) was "Ooh, how exciting!" My second thought was, "Wow, that was underhanded of the Red Cross."
The Red Cross has been unofficially planning to clear the shelter on Tuesday since the weekend, although they hadn't told evacuees, who still assumed that it would be open for weeks. It's clear to all us veterans that the Red Cross is just using this storm as fear tactic to expedite their plans. This sort of thing is common here.
Here are a few of the underhandednesses of the RC that I encountered today.
- In order to get housing help, a recent Red Cross information update explained, you need a yellow wrist band. To get a wrist band, you need to come to the housing center and wait. You get the band by waiting around for a full day, and then you can come back and use it the next day.
- If anyone leaves the shelter for a night (including, apparently, sleeping outside the gate because they were release from the hospital after 11:00), they aren't let back in. They have to find shelter elsewhere. If they lose their wristband, they're out. If they weren't around at the right time during the move from the old building to the new one, they're out.
- A sign reads "Volunteers and Workers Only" on the gate to the expensive transportation services. The sign is wrong, but only evacuees who ignore it find that out.
This hurricane trick really beats the rest, though. The higher echelons of the Red Cross unfortunately seem to welcome incompetence. By all means, please give them your money, because they're here and they are helping and there are many truly excellent Red Cross workers. But their operation here has had real problems-- solvable problems that don't require resorting to using fear and misdirection-- and we really need to figure out something better before the next disaster.