Red Cross - Lessons from Hurricane Katrina - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Red Cross - Lessons from Hurricane Katrina

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By Marsha Thompson - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - It was the perfect storm, but there was no perfect plan in place to handle the catastrophe dealt by Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane left nearly 300 thousand customers without power in central Mississippi.

The Red Cross was overwhelmed by the number of evacuees. There was confusion and long lines for weeks. Hundreds of evacuees filled the coliseum.

Five years later the Red Cross acknowledges mistakes and has changed their "game plan."

"Hurricane Katrina challenged the Red Cross and all organizations. No one expected a million people would need food for one single day. It's what the Red Cross actually did during that. So it challenged us in all areas of our service delivery because of the magnitude so many people needing disaster assistance at one time," said Tamica Smith, Red Cross spokeswoman.

Many organizations, churches and agencies were effectively overwhelmed as hundreds of thousands from Louisiana to Alabama fled to higher ground.

In the past five years, the Red Cross has beefed up its communications and shelters. The number of trained volunteers is up to 95,000 from 25,000 during Katrina.

For more information on Hurricane preparedness go to or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

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