Guard unit, Red Cross, FEMA all active in hurricane relief effort in Louisiana

Brady C. Mallory

Brady C. Mallory

The citizens of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama never expected to see their homes in pieces on the ground, their possessions buried under the rubble and their people so greatly affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The murky waters that now cover the southern states off of the Gulf Coast are also affecting Brookings. South Dakota is one of the many states in the northern United States that is taking part in the Katrina relief effort. Collectively 400-500 members of the National Guard have called into their units to volunteer. The 88th Troop of the Army National Guard in Brookings is playing a supportive role in the effort. According to South Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Officer, Maj. Orson Ward, four humvees have been sent carrying storage containers with supplies.


South Dakota National Guard troops may be getting involved with the relief effort. However, they are not involved with the widely-criticized FEMA. FEMA, which stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been publicly scrutinized for their response to the disaster. Before resigning from the projects former FEMA director, Mike Brown, was relentlessly blasted for his inexperience and political ties to the president. However, some feel that FEMA is not solely to blame. “We can’t put all the blame on one organization. It’s more than one person’s fault, a plethora of things went wrong,” said SDSU junior Will Reed. “This has to do with a bigger organization, i.e. federal government and President Bush.” On Sept. 13, President George W. Bush was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, “I take responsibility,” for failures in dealing with Hurricane Katrina and said the disaster raised broader questions about the government’s ability to respond to natural disasters as well as terror attacks.”We work for the South Dakota government. We got the call saying if you haven’t gone anywhere yet go to Katrina. We focus on local and national emergencies,” said Major Ward. “The FEMA message did not come to mobilize.”


Though they are not yet working with the National Guard, the Red Cross in Brookings is also diving into the wreckage by training volunteers to respond to the disaster. The organization has sent three people down to various sites. “We are collecting money for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to use for victims of the disaster,”said Kathy Reid, head of disaster activities at the Brookings Red Cross. “The Red Cross is only accepting monetary donations because of the logistic problems associated with moving supplies.”The Red Cross has received numerous calls to answer the call for volunteers. South Dakota has also served as a haven for those seeking shelter from the storm. Though no large-scale numbers of evacuees have been sent here, people with ties to the state have been arriving. As South Dakota’s neighbors in the southern states sort through their shattered lives, they can rely on help from people of Brookings. Reid said there is a fundraiser at Midway Camp on Sept 19. For those who would like to be more hands on, there are disaster classes to prepare. The Red Cross requires a three-week commitment.