Fuming at FEMA

By: Donna Davis
By: Donna Davis

Joyce Williams fled New Orleans for Tallahassee after being trapped at the convention center last week. She is getting help from the American Red Cross.

Joyce says, “The stench was unbearable if you stayed in the hall. The bathrooms were a mess, no running water."

Joyce has tried for days to get through to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She feels the federal government has failed her first in New Orleans and now with assistance.

Joyce says, “I blame FEMA. I work for the federal government. I work for the Corps of Engineers. We can do whatever we wanna do."

It may be days or even weeks before Hurricane Katrina evacuees get help from FEMA. They are getting their immediate needs taken care of by Red Cross shelters.

Jennifer Ruffino says it’s obvious Florida volunteers have been through this before.

Jennifer says, “They’re like angels, so nice and kind.”

Florida has had its share of practice with hurricanes. State emergency officials obviously don't depend on FEMAfor the first round of disaster help.

Craig Fugate, Director of Emergency Operations, says, “It's not what FEMA does, it's what state and local officials do.”

At Florida’s Emergency Operations Center, FEMA officials coordinate with state and local emergency workers well in advance of a storm.

Gov. Jeb Bush says, “If we weren't prepared and we didn't do our part, no amount of work by FEMA could overcome the lack of preparation.”

Joyce Williams is grateful for the help she’s received in Florida, but she is angry about all she has gone through to get here.

American Red Cross officials are helping Katrina evacuees get in touch with FEMA. They say the best time to call is early in the morning or late at night when there are fewer people calling.


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