Governor addresses transportation errors
Governor Bobby Jindal made a stop at the Vermilion Parish Courthouse Friday afternoon to hear from parish leaders what could have gone better with the experience of Hurricane Gustav.
“I didn’t come here to give a speech. I came to hear from you,” Gov. Jindal said.
Police Jury President Gerlad Butaud stated, “Our plan in Vermilion Parish worked well; we had no problems whatsoever. When our people got out of the parish, that’s when we got into the problems.”
Rebecca Broussard, Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness told the governor, “we had 474 here that left on buses. We were supposed to get manifest lists of who was on what bus and where they were at. We still today don’t have that.”
The state was in charge of bussing residents to shelters in areas outside of the threat zone for Gustav.
“You separated families. I had 26 that were in Oklahoma City that were brought back and dropped in Lake Charles. We really need more coordination in the state.”
Butaud added, “In the past when we took care of the people ourselves, we knew where we were sheltering them and this kind of thing and it went a lot better. I would hope that sometime in the future we would go back to when we take care of our people. I think that is something we seriously need to look at.”
Governor Jindal spoke about the severity of the storm, even if it wasn’t perceived that way.
“As of yesterday we still had 35 percent of the state without power,” he said.
Addressing the issue of evacuation the governor said,” Here’s what happened; we contracted Wednesday before the storm came. We were promised 700 buses. Everyday after Wednesday we kept hearing, ‘buses are coming, don’t worry.’ “
The state utilized 5,000 National Guardsmen and school buses and were able to get people out of harm’s way.
He added that the state evacuated over 10,000 medical needs patients and also experienced the same transportation problems with hired ambulances.
“We will have to look at severe penalties to those contractors who didn’t perform.,” he concluded.