"Everything that's been done has come from community volunteers," says New Iberia Mayor Hilda Curry. "If it hadn't been for the locals and the United Way, I don't know what we would have done." New Iberia has two shelters located in the civic centers in City and West End parks, housing approximately 500 people. There are 1,200 evacuees residing in the parish's motels and state parks. And scores of evacuees are staying in private homes.
The agencies committed to support these disaster victims have yet to provide financial support. "FEMA isn't in at all," says Jim Anderson, Iberia Parish's director of emergency management. "None of the people have gotten Red Cross vouchers; none have gotten FEMA checks."
Meanwhile the city is paying increased utilities to keep the two civic centers running as shelters, as well as overtime for park staff and police. "I don't have any idea what it's costing a day," Curry says. "We have 500 people taking showers. The police are working 24 hours. We just authorized the city to keep paying the bills while we wait for FEMA to reimburse us."
The Red Cross arrived without supplies, according to Curry. The community has donated medical services, food, transportation, help with social security and food stamps, registration for school and employment assistance. "Everything we need has been given," Red Cross volunteer Cathy Williams says. "Prescriptions have been filled free by local pharmacies. For four weeks we have a schedule of 500 meals that have been donated and cooked. There are mental health counselors every day. Companies from the port [of Iberia] are hiring. People have no money, but the people of the community are taking care of them."
The concern is how long this outpouring of generosity can be sustained until FEMA arrives with options and finances for evacuee populations.
Some problems could be alleviated this week. The Red Cross should be taking over meals any day now, and FEMA representatives have been in contact with city government and Anderson, looking for long-term housing. Curry says existing trailer slots are the priority. "We have about 70, in the Mixon trailer park," she says. "And there are 35 houses on the demolition list. We are asking for money to renovate them."
Contingency plans are moving forward, and city officials are meeting with the ministerial council. "There are 165 families in the shelters," Curry says. "We're looking for a local family to adopt each one, to help them find their way around here. If we work with family members, we might find a way to help people get jobs and relocate them. We have been working as a community to try to provide services that haven't materialized. We can't wait for FEMA."
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.