Cameron Parish, LA - Post Hurricane Ike
|Video Log 1: Assessment (11/05)
On November 5th CAN-DO conducted an assessment of Cameron Parish, Louisiana.
Earlier in the month, our partner Becky Reiser, founder of "Livin the Music" alerted us to the problems of the Southwestern LA parish. She described a third-world tent-camp right here in rural Louisiana. On arrival we were met by enthusiastic locals who were surprised to see people coming to help. We continually heard of the "run-around" and lack of cooperation from the people "in charge". We met with locals and listen to their pleas; not only for state and federal financial assistance, but for an answer to the larger question; "why are we being ignored by our government?".
When we set out to do this assessment we little idea how bad the situation actually was. We arrived on the ground to find homes completely demolished; their residents are being told they are "habitable", (watch the video and you be the judge). Furthermore, the general populous has been forced to live in tents or move in with family or friends. Here we are, seven weeks after hurricane Ike rolled through, with no government assistance, and hundreds living like refugees, right here in our back yard. This is where we(CAN-DO) cannot sit by quietly.
Witnessing the situation first hand, I feel I would not being doing justice to the people of Cameron Parish if did not express my outrage. The people of Louisiana should also be outraged at this administration and their continued useless brainless operation.
I have asked the question for years now after trying to figure out this "FEMA trailer business" - and have gotten the same bureaucratic BS that the people through the gulf coast have been hearing for years. I ask the question again, WHY DO WE STILL HAVE THOUSANDS OF UNOCCUPIED FEMA TRAILERS SITTING EMPTY THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES? WHY ARE WE PAYING MILLIONS IN SECURITY TO PROTECT THESE EMPTY TRAILERS WHILE PEOPLE ARE LIVING IN TENTS??? ALSO, WHY ARE WE PAYING RENT FOR ON THE LAND TO HOLD THESE EMPTY TRAILER FOR OVER 5 YEARS???
We as taxpayers have paid billions for these trailers to be used to help our fellow Americans in times of need. It is about time for for our media outlets and networks to bring back "real" investigative journalism so that the American people can be educated on the real issues facing our country...enough is enough...
We ask any organization or individuals who wish to help this community to please contact;
We also ask you to please spread the word. Only the voice of the people can bring a solution for these families in need.
Below are recent articles that help explain the situation-
Unused FEMA trailers still outside Purvis cost taxpayers $2 billion
LA Feds Differ on Cameron Housing
11/15/08 - 11:09 PM
CAMERON, La. (AP) - A lack of temporary housing is hampering Cameron Parish's recovery from Hurricane Ike, and state officials blame the Federal Emergency Management Agency for refusing to provide coastal residents with trailers. FEMA said it's abiding by a federal rule that prohibits the agency from putting its temporary housing units in areas most likely to be damaged in hurricanes. According to FEMA's elevation data, over 80 percent of the southwestern Louisiana parish is at too great a risk of high winds and floods during hurricane season.
"It's strictly a safety concern," agency spokesman Bob Josephson said Friday. "It's not that we're trying to be overly bureaucratic. The intent of it is strictly safety."
But state and parish officials say FEMA is using bad data. The result, they said, is that recovery in lower Cameron is at a standstill, unable to accelerate because residents can't live on their property. The coastal town of Cameron requires hours of daily commuting to and from residents' temporary homes in Lake Charles and elsewhere.
"You've got to let people get back in there and rebuild, or you're not going to have a community," said Paul Rainwater, head of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. Parish officials plan to formally protest FEMA's flood maps, arguing in an appeal that the agency's elevation data is faulty. Parish administrator Tina Horne said only a fraction of Cameron Parish should be considered a high-risk zone, particularly not the town of Cameron, the parish seat.
About a dozen people in the town are living in tents. Mainly fishermen, their homes were some of the 180 temporary FEMA trailers given out after Hurricane Rita in 2005 that were in turn destroyed by Ike on Sept. 13.
Horne said her data will show that most of the parish should be considered an "A zone," in which FEMA would allow temporary housing and homes must be elevated 10 feet off the ground. FEMA data puts most of the parish in a "V zone," where FEMA cannot put trailers and homes must be elevated 14 feet.
Local officials have an ally in U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, who visited Cameron last week and said he's trying to arrange a meeting with FEMA Administrator David Paulison to discuss the issue.
"We're trying to ask FEMA to at least give these people some breathing room, to get some temporary housing in there," said Boustany, R-Lafayette. Some residents are using cash from FEMA to buy mobile homes. Fisherman Henry Mallett had been living in a tent in Cameron until Wednesday, when he used part of his $22,000 FEMA check to buy a camper. Mallett said he'd hitch the camper to his pickup truck if a storm threatens in the future.
"I'm real happy with what they gave me," said Mallett, an oysterman and shrimper. "If they don't give me any more money, I'll be fine." In all, FEMA has handed out $6.8 million in housing assistance in the parish, Josephson said. Eligible residents can get a maximum of $28,800.Josephson said FEMA is offering housing in upper Cameron Parish, in Hackberry and Grand Lake.
But residents like Mallett don't like the commutes, particularly fishermen who have to report to work at dawn. They have no interest in living anywhere but on the coast."Some people will just not leave out of here, no matter what," said Chuck Primeaux, a lifelong resident.
Louisiana Governor Jindal's LRA Head Says FEMA Must Cut Red Tape