Saturday, August 30, 2008


I was telephoned yesterday by the Dallas, Texas Area chapter of the American Red Cross and put on standby as a manager for one of the Dallas area shelters in the event that Hurricane Gustav strengthened requiring the evacuation of the Louisiana and Texas Gulf coast. Overnight Gustav suddenly strengthened into a strong Category 3 hurricane with winds up to 125 miles per hour – and getting stronger (shades of Katrina). Well, as I am writing this post the Weather Channel announced that Gustav has now been upgraded to a Category 4 with sustained winds in its now well defined eye clocked at 145 miles per hour. Yes, it’s still strengthening… Hurricane Fay was but a harbinger of Gustav and now even Gustav may be beckoning what is now Tropical Storm Hanna...

I received another call from Dallas Red Cross with the news that the City of Dallas is now going to also reopen the Dallas Convention Center and would I work with AM shelter manager and Friend Gary Wilkins? You betcha! Dallas and north Texas are expecting 8,500 or more evacuees from the Gulf coast to start arriving late today.

On Wednesday Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (why didn’t McCain pick him?) declared a state of emergency and requested a presidential pre-landfall disaster declaration. President Bush immediately declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, a move that allows the federal government to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance in storm-affected areas. All this sure makes Jindal’s predecessor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
look even more incompetent than she was.

Furthermore, Governor Jindal activated 3,000 Louisiana National Guardsmen, and triggered preparation measures for the potential evacuation and shelter of affected Louisiana residents and enjoined the American Red Cross to be on alert. Governor Rick Perry of Texas also issued orders Friday deploying 7,500 Texas National Guard troops to Beaumont, Houston and Galveston. But back to Louisiana.

Admirably, and all in direct contrast to his predecessor, Louisiana Governor Jindal has engaged a specific working timeline with his disaster and emergency services staff to include the scheduling of the evacuation of hospitals, nursing/retirement homes, animal shelters and even the start of contra-flow traffic out of Louisiana as early as Saturday, August 30 – two to three days before estimated landfall. Residents of Louisiana can even sign up for critical cell phone alerts and status on the weather. Your tax dollars really at work. So screw any states rights or sovereignty lip synch, FEMA and other federal and local agencies (including the Red Cross and those great Southern Baptist Men with their mobile kitchens and feeding stations) are already in place along the entire Gulf coast. The Baptists even told me they would take a sometimes Episcopalian!

New Orleans and surrounding areas have now engaged voluntary evacuations while Mayor Ray Nagin of “Chocolate City” fame has ordered the mandatory evacuation of all visitors to the City of New Orleans. Well done! We understand that the Superdome under no circumstances will be used to shelter displaced citizens. Again, well done!

The Dallas Independent School District has sent 100 school buses to assist with any evacuation effort from Louisiana. Other school districts are doing the same and authorities are also engaging virtually all forms of transportation to include rail. We have learned our lesson well.

As already reflected, the American Red Cross has been in place for several days and continues to set up shelters across the States of Louisiana and Texas to accommodate what is estimated to be a substantial evacuee population. If the traffic coming out of Louisiana and the Texas Gulf coast is any indication, everybody is paying attention. Texas is ready to once again assist our neighbors.

Those citizenry in the watch area that aren’t wisely headed to safe areas like north Texas are, no doubt, contributing to the gross sales of Wally World (milk, bread and toilet paper) and Home Depot (plywood and generators). These two companies have been herculean in their corporate efforts to help folks prepare for these conditions and then contributing a sizable part of those profits to disaster relief. Believe me, I have seen hundreds of pallets of relief goods from both these companies.

But, you can also contribute to this effort. Go and Volunteer to help your local chapter of the American Red Cross. Even as you read this post, some of the folks from your local chapter are being deployed to assist in what will be a most challenging disaster relief effort. So, if you’re from Dallas, TX; Charlotte, NC; southeastern Michigan; South Bend, IN; Atlanta, GA; Providence, RI; Seattle, WA or any other part of our great country, get out there and do something positive!


Ned Buxton

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