Sunday, September 11, 2005

More Blogger Katrina Coverage

Jacob Appelbaum and Joel Johnson and Guerilla News Network's Anthony Lappé are all blogging from New Orleans documenting the aftermath. A good example of their work is the way all three covered a story describing the Red Cross' seizure of private medical supplies and the detention of the nurse who was transporting them.

From Joel:

I'm standing in a morning meeting with a group of volunteers who are working to set up the medical clinic. The big topic of the morning is the story of an LPN named Bobby (who isn't here) who was apprehended by the Red Cross while providing medical relief. The Red Cross (working with armed troops from FEMA [we think]), seized Bobby's medical supplies from his truck because someone from the Red Cross decided that he was stealing the necessities—specifically, the pharmaceuticals.

Problem is, Bobby's supplies weren't from the Red Cross, but instead from private donations. Many of the pharmaceuticals were for residents in New Orleans who have a prescription, and one of the other medical volunteers is licensed to dispense prescription medicines.

Not only did the Red Cross seize the pharmaceuticals at gunpoint (while detaining Bobby somewhere until after the curfew), but they also took the remainder of Bobby's supplies, including bandages and the like.

From Jacob:

I’m not really surprised that the Red Cross has the ability to use FEMA agents as armed guards. FEMA should guard them. FEMA should guard everyone. The Red Cross is doing important work, they’re saving lives. However, I’m really surprised they’re allowed to hold people at gun point and seize their belongings without any questions. This isn’t the Red Cross I grew up reading about is it? Is this possible? A reporter from Air America plans to follow up with the Red Cross about this. Here is another initial report of the seizure.

The people in New Orleans don’t all trust the Red Cross. Many of the people are afraid to leave, afraid to seek help, sick, wounded and these people are probably the best people to help.

More updates to come on this story as it’s pretty much a halfhearted rumor at best. Currently the guy from Air America is on the phone with this person.

From Anthony:

UPDATE: I talked with Bobby Lee Huss, whose shipment of medical supplies, including tetanus vaccines, prescription drugs, baby formula, wheelchairs, walkers and other devices, was confiscated yesterday at gunpoint by a Homeland Security checkpoint in Covington, a town on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. According to Huss, the shipment was seized at the request of a Red Cross official who claimed he had stolen the shipment. Huss, who says he’s a registered nurse for Methodist Health Systems in Denton, Texas, had been working for the Red Cross in Dallas and in Covington, La. as a volunteer. He was told of the need for medical supplies in Algiers (where I am) and appealed to his fellow Red Cross workers to help. According to Huss, he was given over $25,000 worth of medical supplies by the Red Cross in Covington. He claims he was given all the necessary credentials and Red Cross workers helped him load up his 1989 Dodge Caravan. But not less than 10 minutes later, he found himself staring the barrel of a gun at a Homeland Security checkpoint on the north side of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. According to Huss, a state police officer told him the Red Cross had requested he be detained.

Michael Moore is also blogging from the area at Camp Casey-Covington:

I have closed my New York production office and flown my crew down to Louisiana to assist in the effort. Retired Army colonel Ann Wright (who joined us on our election tour last fall) is there at Camp Casey-Covington helping to organize our relief effort and working with the dozens of Vietnam and Iraqi War vets who are going into New Orleans every day to rescue people. They are also distributing food, water and other necessities to area shelters.

A student journalism blog, Katrina's Stories, is up and running.

Our student journalists interviewed teenagers and their families, who are now in a Red Cross shelter in Longview, Texas. We want to share some of their stories as we reach out to them.


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