Red Cross not Allowed into New Orleans

by Jon Mandle on September 3, 2005

Like many people, I made a donation to the Red Cross – then took up Ted’s offer.

I do not regret this decision. And I am sure the money will help people in need.

But I thought some of it might help the people who are trapped and dying in New Orleans. Turns out, the Red Cross is not allowed into New Orleans (tip to Atrios):

As the National Guard delivered food to the New Orleans convention center yesterday, American Red Cross officials said that federal emergency management authorities would not allow them to do the same.”

There are understandable security concerns, but the main reason seems to be the following: “The goal is to move people out of an uninhabitable city, and relief operations might keep them there.”

I am (once again) speechless – and literally trembling. How is it even conceivable that someone would think that relief operations would keep victims there – and that depriving them of emergency food and water would be the the extra little nudge that would convince them to get out?

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Positive Liberty » Blog Archive » Our Wise Central Planners at Work
09.04.05 at 9:30 am



Magpie 09.03.05 at 12:40 pm

That’s doubly horrifying in light of this article. Thousands of people are trapped on a bridge in Metairie, and they’re not being evacuated (despite there being a slew of empty buses nearby),
nor are they being allowed to leave under their own power. One man wanted to take his family to his father’s house, which was nearby and apparently had running water, and he was told by a Guardsman at gunpoint, “You should’ve left before — now stay here.”

I feel so angry and helpless. People outside New Orleans want to help while people inside New Orleans are dying, convinced the rest of the country doesn’t give a shit because they’re poor and black, and the government won’t allow people out or allow outside help in. What has happened to our country?


cm 09.03.05 at 1:08 pm

It’s the same thinking as “it was their choice to live there”, “they chose to be poor/uninsured/unemployed”, “dependence on welfare”, etc.


bryan 09.03.05 at 1:20 pm

well putting this together with all the various obstructions placed in the way of people trying to get out of the city this is another obvious Bush Administration lie.


Mike Otsuka 09.03.05 at 1:20 pm

They might, however, be making a point about physical access to and from the city and the difficulty of moving things in at the same time people are moving out:

The Red Cross spokesperson said: “The situation is like an hourglass, and we are in the smallest part right now. Everything is trying to get through it,” she said. “They’re trying to help people get out.”


abb1 09.03.05 at 1:27 pm

They shouldn’t get too comfortable, because soon they’ll be moved to a refugee camp, described here: Notes from Inside New Orleans

…In the refugee camp I just left, on the I-10 freeway near Causeway, thousands of people (at least 90% black and poor) stood and squatted in mud and trash behind metal barricades, under an unforgiving sun, with heavily armed soldiers standing guard over them. When a bus would come through, it would stop at a random spot, state police would open a gap in one of the barricades, and people would rush for the bus, with no information given about where the bus was going.

One cameraman told me “as someone who’s been here in this camp for two days, the only information I can give you is this: get out by nightfall. You don’t want to be here at night.”

There was also no visible attempt by any of those running the camp to set up any sort of transparent and consistent system, for instance a line to get on buses, a way to register contact information or find family members, special needs services for children and infirm, phone services, treatment for possible disease exposure, nor even a single trash can.


John Isbell 09.03.05 at 1:32 pm

I’m afraid I’m not prepared to buy that reason 100% on the authority of this government. It doesn’t smell like incompetence, but I’m looking at politics.


Procrastinator 09.03.05 at 2:31 pm

If Jon is trembling now, he’ll be positively catatonic when combat troops arrive from Iraq. They have been in battle, and they will shoot. Y’alls a cummin, boy, y’alls a cummin.


Martha Bridegam 09.03.05 at 2:45 pm

The NAACP is working with MoveOn, black churches, black-owned hotels, and others. They are accepting donations. See and .


Procrastinator 09.03.05 at 3:01 pm

We get the point!


Greg 09.03.05 at 3:14 pm

Well, they’re right that if you don’t send food in, one way or another there won’t be anyone in the city.


Rich 09.03.05 at 3:27 pm

Don’t you know? It’s just like welfare. Everyone migrates to where the handouts are!

You can’t see my tongue in my cheek, but believe me it’s there.


Yarrow 09.03.05 at 3:29 pm

Food Not Bombs is sending food (and volunteers). You can contribute here.

They are anarchists, which may bother some people. In my experience they’re very well organized anarchists, and they are certainly less likely to stay out of town on FEMA’s orders.

Their next bus is leaving in a few days. I certainly hope that in a few days New Orleans will either be deserted or decently fed; but if not, I’m betting my dollar will go farther with Food Not Bombs than the Red Cross. As soon as I found out the Red Cross was banned and FNB was going in, I made a contribution to FNB in the same amount I had made to the Red Cross.


Procrastinator 09.03.05 at 3:55 pm

This is stunning. Never I thought I could feel more intense opprobrium towards Bush. Whatever disgusting and repugnant acts he approved abroad, he still believed them to be for the good of the “folks” at home. Now even this tiny mist of sympathy for him has been burnt off by treating the refugees as demographic irritants. This ain’t “tough love”. This is the same revolting, twisted theory which would destroy a village to save it (not that that creature was ever in a position where he had to destroy said village).

I loath the man. I was chilled when I saw his being barely able to raise concern for that which was happening; I was filled with contempt when, standing beside daddy, he couldn’t tell the difference between “coaches” and “coast”.


fortasse 09.03.05 at 4:39 pm

I thought about donating to the Red Cross, but now I think I may donate to one of the organizations listed in the comments here. This article on the Red Cross certainly got me to thinking…


fortasse 09.03.05 at 4:42 pm


derek 09.03.05 at 4:52 pm

How is it even conceivable that someone would think that relief operations would keep victims there – and that depriving them of emergency food and water would be the the extra little nudge that would convince them to get out?

Is this a rhetorical question? It’s perfectly conceivable that Republicans would think that; why, it’s been at the heart of their social security philosophy since Reagan’s “welfare cadillac” days at the least. Why shouldn’t it be at the heart of their homeland security philosophy too?


Steve LaBonne 09.03.05 at 4:54 pm

Welcome to the kleptocratic third-world craphole that used to be known as the United States of America.


Mike Otsuka 09.03.05 at 5:44 pm

I’d like to add the following to my comment #4 above: Even if the Red Cross is being prevented from returning to New Orleans in order to keep the routes open for people to be evacuated (rather than disgustingly in order to starve and dehydrate people to force them to leave — as if they don’t already have enough motive to leave a hellhole that stinks of human feces and rotting flesh), the government’s lack of response to this disaster has been a scandal of the highest order. That much is obvious even on the most charitable interpretation of the Red Cross’s ban.


bob mcmanus 09.03.05 at 5:46 pm

“Thousands of people are trapped on a bridge in Metairie”

Okay, any lawyer capable of looking at a hypothetical?

Official A in charge of security gives to orders to have troops confine them to the bridge;

official B in charge of relief prevents food or water from getting to them, and/or sends it elsewhere, claiming he didn’t know, oh, that there was anybody at the convention center;

official C in charge of evacuations claims the same as B, nobody told him there were people on the bridge. Under ICS, as discussed at Pat & Teresa Hayden’s, these three officials do not talk to each other, but only to Brown.

And so some or all of the people die.

Is there any legal responsibility?

(I suppose you need a D, in charge of determining where people are, and passing that info to Brown)


jaded 09.03.05 at 7:29 pm

I never thought I would find myself donating money to the richest nation on earth. What prompted me to do so was the observation that the US does not look after its poor very well under Republican administrations. At the time I was not aware of just how low the standard of that care could get – keeping relief from desperate refugees for strategic reasons. The sad thing is that I gave my money to the Red Cross. It won’t be wasted of course, because there is a huge job to be done supporting the refugees who have managed to escape New Orleans in spite of government “help”, and the Red Cross will be there to help, but I actually hoped it would go to the worst cases. Oh well.

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