Dealing with Disaster - Private versus Public
There was no red tape strung across Missouri's borders when Louisiana volunteers came to help in 1993. And this year, Missouri volunteers drove straight into Franklin, Louisiana. No government checklists. No chain of command. No FEMA.
KOMU took a look at whether victims of disaster remember public or private help more after the disaster's over. We found it depends if the memory's positive or negative.
"It was just... You can't imagine what it was like. And I was to do it all on my own.FEMA didn't do anything for me I'd say," explained Peggy Heying.
FEMA's name was mud for Heying in '93.
"They didn't come and they didn't care and all they wanted when they did come was for you to buy out, and they almost pressure you until you would sell to them," Heying said.
FEMA offered $2000. Heying didn't sell. In fact, she rebuilt on the same property.
"What can you buy for $2000 and that was after everything was cleaned up," Heying said.
And that clean up crew after the disaster carried more weight that any government worker could.
"They just helped everyway they could. They were wonderful," Heying said.
It wasn't the government, but private volunteers from Franklin, Louisiana. Chuck Bourgeois volunteered on Peggy Heying's front lawn.
"We didn't leave here with one truck, we didn't leave here with two trucks. We left here with three 18 wheelers full of supplies," said Bourgeois.
All private donations from the small Louisiana community. This year, when Katrina hit, private volunteers like New Franklin principal Vikki Brent gathered supplies to return the favor.
"They said are you those people from Missouri? We're so glad you're here," Brent recounted.
"I thought we'd never see anybody from New Franklin again," Bourgeois said. "I was glad that they came down."
"New Franklin came at a time when it was getting pretty crucial and so they were a big help to us," explained Franklin, Louisiana Mayor Raymond Harris.
Mayor Harris said private help from Missouri helped right away
"The people themselves. Their basic needs had been met by private concerns and private citizens. And New Franklin was a part of that," Harris said.
Ironic a government official would say this. You can't wait on government. because if you do...lives could be lost...bad situations could get worse...you can't wait.Shannon Fernandez-Blaycher says she didn't receive much government help since she left New Orleans.Instead, the catholic church in Franklin, Louisiana met her needs."Those people came in and they gave us things...and it helped us...so I think we are very blessed," Fernandez-Blaycher explained. "After having seeing all of this, I really think local governments have to take responsibility when the crisis hits."And responsibility for Franklin's government meant asking for help from private agencies like the catholic church.The government will show up but you have to have some temporary resources to get to that point. Some of those resources came from New Franklin principal Vikki Brent...She measures the simple act of taking down a trailer full of relief supplies."The government couldn't do this? Because of all the red tape...and all the bureaucracy...but our country gives from the heart anyway," Brent said.The same heart volunteers from Louisiana showed to Peggy Heying 12 years ago. "And I really appreciate everything they would do for me, cause they were a wonderful help," Heying said.During a time of crisis, it's the private help that Peggy Heying remembered most."We didn't depend on the government and it's a good thing we didn't. Yeah family and friends cause we just had to lean on each other," Heying said.And the help...No matter if it's government or private needs to continue in the Gulf Coast.