Frustration and Abandonment

Frustration and Abandonment
By: Arnold Wyrick
MARION, IL --The massive confusion within the Federal Emergency Management Agency is causing some evacuees to become frustrated with the federal government.  For Paul Meacham ofWaveland, Mississippi his feelings about the relief efforts began before Hurricane Katrina hit.
"We went to the first shelter, there was no food and no water.  So we went to another one it was the same situation there.  After arriving at our 5th shelter in Gulfport my family found the same as before, no food, no water, and crowded.  But it was too late to find another one the hurricane was upon us," Meacham said.
He and his family huddled in a part of the school building as Hurricane Katrina came ashore.
"As the high winds and the eye approached the roof started coming off.  And as the roof was coming off people were running and we were running," Meacham said.
After two more days in a Biloxi shelter, the family decided to return home to Waveland.
"The closer we got the worst it looked.  There was nothing left of our little town.  So we ended up sleeping on a muddy floor in an abandoned home for the next two days until the National Guard showed up.  That was four days after the storm.  And they had very few supplies just enough for a handful of people," Meacham said.
So Meacham and his family evacuated to Southern Illinois, eventually landing in a Marion, Illinois hotel.  And that's where Meacham says the federal government dealt his family and even harsher blow then the hurricane did.
"I filled out all the forms, got my FEMA number.  And I was told I was doing the right thing.  Then on Friday I checked with them to see how my claim was going.  The answers I received were if you even get any help it will be a year now, and probably even more.  So I'm not even going to call them I don't want to hear anymore bad news," Meacham said as he fought back tears in his eyes.
"I'm supposed to be the leader of the pack, the father, the grandfather, and I'm not doing that.  I don't care about politics.  The most important thing right now is the people on the Gulf Coast that were plastered that were devastated by this once in a lifetime thing, get some help."
When asked what the future held for he and his family Meacham replied," Right now I don't know.  But I'm not going to put my family back in the path of another storm.  We'll make it here or somewhere else.  I want to get supporting my wife, and we want to get on our feet."