Red Cross heads for New Orleans - Philadelphia News

August 29, 2008 4:29:00 PM PDT
Hurricane Gustav became a category one storm Friday afternoon and it could be even stronger if and when it hits the Gulf Coast as early as Sunday night. That's why people along the coast aren't taking any chances. Katrina victims living in 5,500 emergency trailers and cottages along Mississippi's Gulf Coast have been asked to start evacuating on Sunday. An evacuation order is also likely for New Orleans.

Red Cross volunteers from our area are already headed to the potential strike zone.

Jeanne Schmolze says hearing the words "Louisiana" and "hurricane" in the same sentence brought back some painful memories.

"It made the hair go up on my arms and I'm thinking about my friends who did move back," Katrina survivor Jeanne Schmolze said.

Jeanne was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit three years ago. She now lives in Philadelphia working as a political campaign volunteer.

Now though, her thoughts and prayers are with the people of the city she still loves, but left behind, after that massive storm left the Big Easy in ruins.

The Red Cross has already dispatched thousands of volunteers who will set up emergency response posts in dozens of locations from Texas all the way to Florida just in case.

Their efforts will centralize once Gustav gets closer to making landfall.

Red Cross officials are truly hoping for the best when it comes to the locations hardest hit by Katrina.

"You can imagine what it's like for people in Louisiana to just have those memories dredge back. Hopefully, this thing will keep moving west; right now, it looks like landfall Tuesday morning," Tom Foley, the CEO of the Philadelphia Red Cross said.

That sentiment goes double for Jeanne Schmolze who says it would break her heart to see Gustav deliver a direct hit to New Orleans, a city, she says, is still on its knees.

"The infrastructure is still not okay. If you get away from the parts that never went in the water, the tourists areas and the higher rent areas. It's coming but it's not great," Schmolze said.

As we mark the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the governors of Louisiana and Texas have already declared states of emergency to lay the groundwork for federal assistance which includes some 8,000 National Guard Troops already on standby.

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