I am dog tired but delaying a long soak in the tub to post some comments.
Just got done with a 15 hour day working with the Red Cross. Mainly working as a gopher and helping park cars while they tackled cutting checks to those affected by Katrina's wrath. As we left today there were vehicles already lined up for tomorrow.
Due to Rita, whether there will be a tomorrow cutting checks is very much in doubt. We were told to come back on the assumption the Red Cross would be ready to handle more people. As I said the volunteers were caught in-between helping Katrina victims or preparing shelters for the Rita refugees with no decision yet. Some of the volunteers were scheduled to return home but that is also in doubt.
What I observed of the Red Cross personnel was highly favorable. Always checking on the people waiting, seeing if they need something to drink or snack on while off in a corner several volunteers baby-sat the toddlers as their parents waited. They had multiple stations to process people's claims. They had two counselors standing by along with two medics.
Unfortunately I wish I could report the people who came looking for succor were equally good and noble. Alas it was not. Some people, once they were done, would go into town and try to sell their ticket to someone else. Which meant increased verification of the tickets. One time had to get the police involved when a person in a car waiting outside the gate threatened one of the volunteers with death because we ran out of tickets to issue; the quota is 500 a day and believe me it takes from 9am until after 5pm to process 500 people, so the police escorted the irate person to jail. It was incredible how many fathers were claiming for their children but had no wife. Or the reverse was also true. Or trying to claim adult children just to get an extra $300 per. The police got involved with another case because the person in question had been through the line at least once before and was back trying to get more money. The Red Cross volunteers hardly heard from these people, once the check was signed, a simple 'thank you.' To me that was the worse part, the sheer ingratitude of the people being helped.
Now those volunteers are caught betwixt, keep caring for Katrina victims or get ready for people fleeing Rita. Or try to do both. Tough call someone has to make, I hope they have already made it. Anyway I am off to go soak in tub. Got another long day tomorrow, we get to find out if the people seeking help will riot if the Red Cross does not show up. Thank goodness there will be police present.
P.S. For those who may face such a heartbreaking experience as asking for help from the Red Cross, a few simple bits of advice. Do not bring other family members unless you are car-pooling several households because the Red Cross only allows the ticket holder in, not family unless small children. Which leads to point two, why subject the children to a 24 hour wait in an automobile when they could be baby-sat? The Red Cross requires a picture ID before cutting a check, don't loose your ID. If you have lost your ID and proof of residence, bring a utility bill. Even then the Red Cross may tell you to get a picture ID before they will handle your claim. Also keep track of your SSN card. And for every dependent you claim, better have supporting documents like birth certificates for the children. But most importantly, have patience and understanding, the Red Cross is trying as best they can to help, being a screaming banshee will not endear you to the Red Cross nor your fellow citizens. In fact the Red Cross may get the police to toss you out.