Where are they? Hattiesburg mayor wonders why help is so slow in coming

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by KenH, Sep 4, 2005.

  1. KenH

    KenH
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    Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree is angry, upset and scared.
    "I started trying to get federal help in here on Monday and six days after this town has struggled to get enough water and ice for its people we finally hear from the feds," DuPree said Saturday.

    Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Monday and slashed its way through Hattiesburg and the Pine Belt. Two representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency arrived in Hattiesburg Saturday.

    "I didn't have an airplane or a telephone or a radio that worked," DuPree said. "Finally, I just sat in my car and yelled. No one heard that either."

    He would welcome President Bush to come to see "how desperate we are for help and fast from the federal government. The people of Hattiesburg are resilient and we are working hard to meet our own needs, but we are overwhelmed."...

    Saturday the mayor settled for FEMA agents Mike Jones and James E. Smith. They met with DuPree at the Forrest County Emergency Management District's emergency operations center.

    The mayor said the FEMA representatives asked about 15 people gathered at the emergency operations center if they needed help.

    "I'd say there was a problem when someone from the federal government has to ask us if we need help," he said.

    FEMA representatives couldn't explain why it took five days for the agency to arrive in Hattiesburg....

    Smith and Jones said the agency plans to post fliers alerting storm victims to call 1-800-621-FEMA or visit www.fema.gov. But most people in the Pine Belt still are without phones and electricity, so they can't use the information....

    Assistance for outlying rural areas is even slower, said Hattiesburg attorney Chipper Johnson, who is city attorney for New Augusta.

    Johnson went to the Emergency Management District office Saturday trying to find the FEMA representatives.

    "We now have people who have no food," Johnson said. "They have no gas to get to Hattiesburg. I am hoping these churches will fan out into the areas around Hattiesburg. They are desperate for help. No one is helping them."

    The FEMA representatives left before Johnson could talk to them.

    "They're gone. I guess that says it all," a dejected Johnson said as he left the facility.

    Hattiesburg had to submit a plan to FEMA by Saturday in order to get fuel for emergencies.

    DuPree said once the city gets authority for fuel, it will have to determine who gets it.

    "Is a critical care nurse a critical worker?" he asked. "What about a funeral home director who has bodies piling up? What about linemen and utility workers? I'd say yes to all of those because they all play critical roles in keeping our city safe."

    DuPree suggested the federal government open the fuel reserves at Camp Shelby and cut through the red tape to get fuel to people who are desperate.

    DuPree, who has been operating since Monday on about two hours of sleep daily, admitted that he's probably got a short fuse and one that's getting shorter by the hour.

    DuPree said there are some bright spots. He said the response by the American Red Cross has been fantastic.
     
  2. LorrieGrace

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    That is awful. It seems like the media has focused more on NO than the other cities along the coast that were hit. I have never heard anything about Grand Isle in LA. It might be gone for all I know.
     
  3. LadyEagle

    LadyEagle
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    I just saw a mayor of another city in tears, pleading for FEMA help to arrive for his city on MSNBC.
     
  4. KenH

    KenH
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  5. LorrieGrace

    LorrieGrace
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    Thanks.
     

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