I worked a shelter, yesterday. Evacuees from parishes in south Louisiana fleeing hurricane Gustav. When I got there yesterday morning there were about five hundred souls. Men, women, children, the human condition in all its glory.
They were ready to go home. They were thankful for shelter, they were glad to be safe, but the storm had been three days gone, and they were ready to be home. There was a tension in the air that was almost palpable.
The shelter was run by the American Red Cross. Volunteers from all over the country were stationed at our little shelter. I talked to volunteers from Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Maine, Washington, Nevada, and other states I'm sure I can't remember. They were great, working hard, serving the people.
But the people wanted to go home. So I started asking, getting the Red Cross volunteers to educate me. What I learned is that the Red Cross provides shelter, but they don't control the buses. They provide food, shelter, basic necessities but they have no control over the buses.
Local officials control the buses. Lets say that Chinquapin parish is under threat of a storm and an evacuation is ordered. The buses roll and the people from Chinquapin go to Xavier parish. Three or four days later, the storm is over, the people are ready to go home, but Chinquapin isn't yet ready to recieve them. The folks from Chinquapin who are waiting for the bus have to wait until the Chinquapin officials call for the buses.
Even if Xavier parish got hammered worse than Chinquapin parish, the people from Chinquapin can't go home until their officials call for them.
That's the way it was explained to me by the Red Cross workers. Knowing what I know now, it's a poor system. The great flaw is that the officials who evacuate their people get the say on when those people come home.