A report by STAND, a grassroots project of NOWCRJ, that exposes the impact of Lousiana's unjust and inequitable evacuation policy during the Hurricane Gustav on the state's poorest evacuees, based on hundreds of interviews with evacuees.
This report exposes Louisiana's differential treatment sheltering policy which directs that in disasters, the state shall segregate evacuees relying on city/ state transportation in state-run warehouse shelters separate from evacuees using their own cars. Pursuant to this policy, the state advisory system directs self-transporting evacuees to separate parish, Red Cross, and church shelters with better conditions. Those who evacuate by bus are primarily the residents who do not have the economic means (or the cars) to self-evacuate, including homeless residents, public housing residents, low-wage workers, low-income renters, and their families -- almost all African American.
This report's findings are based on assessments of the state-run warehouse shelters and extensive interviews of hundreds of affected residents. The findings expose startling inequity. In the Gustav evacuation, the state's differential treatment policy subjected the most vulnerable state residents to extremely inhumane shelter conditions. In each of the four state-run warehouse shelters, over a thousand evacuees were housed in a single large one-room space. Women, infants, children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled were all using the same space, without privacy, and sharing the same bathrooms -- outdoor portable toilets. They had no access to running water inside the facilities. The only showers -- until close to the end of the evacuations -- were the portable toilets outside, in which mothers were washing themselves and their babies with bottled water. Residents had limited access to medical care, and no access to counselors or to news from the state about the hurricane and its aftermath.