Local Agencies Say Communication Still Needs Work

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The plans to house the evacuees in Brazos County changed often in the first few days. Shelters were designated and then changed at moment’s notice.

Hurricane Katrina evacuees are finding refuge in the Brazos Valley. Nearly 250 remain in shelters in the Twin Cities.

The Emergency Operations Center had a plan to accommodate the hundreds who eventually found a temporary home in the Brazos Valley. But the unexpected nature of this particular disaster is throwing officials for a loop. Not knowing how many evacuees would show up in the area, when, or where is still a challenge for planners.

Sharon Zambrzycki works with the Red Cross. She says even now, things are still changing by the day, even by the hour.

"Initially it was immediate needs, then as we began to help people transition either to stay in the community temporarily or permanently or see to get them back to family and friends they can stay with," says Zambrzycki.

Ron Crozier, with the EOC, says the needs of the evacuees are driving the relief effort. Even community donations are catching some agencies off guard, not having enough space to house donated goods.

"The tremendous turnout of community and support of all donations with cash as well as items that lessen the need the agencies needed to step up and provide for evacuees. There's a constant give and take how many evacuees are we taking care of what needs are, so we're having to change our plans to meet those needs," says Crozier.

In times like these, the emergency management team says certain plans are only a guide. Sometimes it's better, Crozier says, to react instead of plan.

Both the Red Cross and EOC agree that communication among local and state officials is a challenge.

"To have a more open line of communication between those receiving, supplying, and servicing there needs to be a better job done by all of us in that area. That's probably our only hiccup to this point," says Crozier.

"It’s been hectic and stressful for everybody. But we're trying to be at least a half step ahead of what needs are going to be." says Zambrzycki.

All agencies agree the humble appreciation from Gulf Coast natives is a testament of the efforts of the entire community.