Scotts 2 Cents

September 17, 2008

Evacuee Behavior – Hurricane Gustav

Similar stories were common coming out of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and they need to be heard.  This is absolutely ridiculous.  This is how people act?  Deplorable.

This past spring into summer (2008) there was catastrophic flooding in Iowa – if you watched the Olympics you heard about Shawn Johnson’s hometown flooding.  That was the case over much of the state of Iowa, a disaster very near the level of any hurricane, homes were destroyed, livelihoods taken.  

What didn’t come out of Iowa were stories like this one.  Nobody looted, nobody begged for handouts, nobody cried racism, nobody blamed the Federal Gov’t, nobody blamed anybody.  Instead people helped their friends and neighbors the best they could; people acted like human beings.   

So what’s the difference between people in Iowa and people in Louisana?  You tell me.  Faced with the same tragedy, the same circumstances how can the story of human behavior be so different?  You tell me.

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Dear Editor,
I am a nurse who has just completed volunteer working approximately 120 hours as the clinic director in a Hurricane Gustav evacuation shelter in Shreveport, Louisiana over the last 7 days.  I would love to see someone look at the evacuee situation from a new perspective.  Local and national news channels have covered the evacuation and “horrible” conditions the evacuees had to endure during Hurricane Gustav.

True – some things were not optimal for the evacuation and the shelters need some modification.

At any point, does anyone address the responsibility (or irresponsibility) of the evacuees?

Does it seem wrong that one would remember their cell phone, charger, cigarettes and lighter but forget their child’s insulin?

Is something amiss when an evacuee gets off the bus, walks immediately to the medical area, and requests immediate free refills on all medicines for which they cannot provide a prescription or cur rent bottle (most of which are narcotics)?

Isn’t the system flawed when an evacuee says they cannot afford a $3 copay for a refill that will be delivered to them in the shelter yet they can take a city-provided bus to Wal-mart, buy 5 bottles of Vodka, and return to consume them secretly in the shelter?

Is it fair to stop performing luggage checks on incoming evacuees so as not to delay the registration process but endanger the volunteer staff and other persons with the very realistic truth of drugs, alcohol and weapons being brought into the shelter?

Am I less than compassionate when it frustrates me to scrub a mess from the floor near a nauseated child while his mother lies nearby, watching me work 26 hours straight, not even raising her head from the pillow to comfort her own son?

Why does it incense me to hear a man say “I ain’t goin’ home ’til I get my FEMA check”, when I would love to just go home and see my daughters who I have only seen 3 times this week?

Is the system flawed when the privately insured patient must find a way to get to the pharmacy, fill his prescription and pay his copay while the FEMA declaration allows the uninsured person to acquire free medications under the disaster rules?

Does it seem odd that the nurse volunteering at the shelter is paying for childcare while the evacuee sits on a cot during the day as the shelter provides a “daycare”?

Have government entitlements created this mentality and am I facilitating it with my work?

Will I be a bad person, merciless nurse or poor Christian if I hesitate to work at the next shelter because I have worked for 7 days being called every curse word imaginable, feeling threatened and fearing for my personal safety in the shelter?

Exhausted and battered,

Sherri Hagerhjelm, RN

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