Emergency Management

Search and rescue worker continues mission in New Orleans
Posted By Sheri Badger on Sep 13th, 2005 at 1:19 AM

Tacoma, WA – September 13, 2005 – [Deputy Dan Hudson of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department was vacationing in the San Juan Islands when he received a call from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to the Gulf Coast hurricane disaster. Less than 24 hours later, he was in Shreveport, LA waiting for the storm to cross over the coastline, so Hudson and his team could enter the area to survey damage and provide assistance as required. Deputy Hudson filed the following report.] It was a long night as my team and I attempted to gain access to the (New Orleans) downtown core to assess the damage and see where we could apply resources. We had to settle for sending in rescue teams from the west boundary of the city. We worked through the night to establish a base and to launch our resources at first light. No sleep followed by blinding sun and heat. We were able to brief the teams at 7 a.m. and send them into the inundated core of the city. We have not looked back since and continue to send out resources every day. We have battled getting boat resources to help get our resources into the housing zones. I believe the press is oblivious to all that is going on. They are ensconced in the downtown core and away from 90 percent of the action. To date our crews have extracted more than 6,500 individuals as well as providing food, water, and ice to another 1,000 who refuse to leave. Resources are scarce, and getting interagency cooperation has been difficult. Enter the military, and now I am resource rich. On a particularly difficult day I called for buses to transport our folks, but the state would not provide them until I obtained police officers to put on the buses for security. I called the local jurisdictions and obtained only five law enforcement officers when I needed 50. The Army came to the rescue and offered to provide helicopters. Now it seems that FEMA has its own fleet of supporting Army and National Guard helicopters. We have divided the city into divisions and work in 27 geographical areas. As of three days ago we had hasty-searched 95 percent of the city and surrounding regions in St. Bernard Parish. We have also completed primary searches when we could access roofs and the doors or windows. We continue to pull people off roofs and out of structures throughout the city. We have had a working relationship and unified command here with the Coast Guard, Louisiana Air National Guard and Jefferson Parish and an intermittent relationship with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife. Last week I briefed the lieutenant governor. During the past three days, I have briefed Vice Admiral Allen of the US Coast Guard, a two-star general, a one-star General and about 40 colonels of Joint Task Force Katrina, which is the joint command post for all the helicopter assets here. Today I am happy with lots of resources starting to call us for assignment and tasking. Marines, Navy, Army and National Guard units hover around our command post. We have had great success and hope to continue the same. Dan Hudson