FEMA BLOCKED 500 BOATS FROM JOINING IN RESCUE EFFORT
CLARK WARNER, DAILY KOS - On Wednesday morning a group of
approximately 1,000 citizens pulling 500 boats left the Acadiana Mall
in Lafayette in the early morning and headed to New Orleans with a
police escort from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department. The
flotilla of trucks pulling boats stretched over five miles. This
citizen rescue group was organized by La. State Senator, Nick
Gautreaux from Vermilion Parish. The group was comprised of
experienced boaters, licensed fishermen and hunters, people who have
spent their entire adult life and teenage years on the waterways of
The State Police waved the flotilla of trucks/boats through the
barricades in LaPlace and we sped into New Orleans via I-10 until past
the airport and near the Clearview exit. At that time we were stopped
by agents of the FEMA controlled La. Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries.
A young DWF agent strolled through the boats and told approximately
half of the citizens that their boats were too large because the water
had dropped during the night and that they should turn around and go
They were pulling a large (24ft) shallow draft aluminum boat that can
safely carry 12 passengers and had ramp access which would allow the
elderly and infirm to have easier access to the boat. They then
politely informed the DWF agent that the local and national media had
consistently reported that the water level had risen during the night
which contradicted his statement to them that the water was dropping
and no boat over 16 ft. in length would be allowed to participate in
They then specifically asked the DWF agent that they (and other
citizens in the flotilla) be allowed to go to the hospitals and help
evacuate the sick and the doctors and nurses stranded there. They
offered to bring these people back to Lafayette, in our own vehicles,
in order to ensure that they received proper and prompt medical care.
The DWF agent did not want to hear this and ordered them home -- all
five hundred boats. They complied with the DWF agent's orders, turned
around and headed back to Lafayette along with half of the flotilla.
However, two friends were pulling a smaller 15 ft alumaweld with a 25
hp. The DWF agents let them through to proceed to the rescue operation
They were allowed to drive to the launch site where the FEMA
controlled La. Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries were launching their
rescue operations (via boat). They reported to me that there were over
200 DWF agents just standing around and doing nothing. They were kept
there for approximately 3 hours. During that time they observed a
large number of DWF agents doing absolutely nothing. Why? Because FEMA
would not let them help! After three hours had passed they were told
that they were not needed and should go home. They complied with the
DWF's orders and turned around and went home to Lafayette.
On Tuesday afternoon, August 30, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee
asked for all citizens with boats to come to the aid of Jefferson
Parish. A short time later Dwight Landreneau, the head of the La.
Depart. of Wildlife and Fisheries, got on television and remarked that
his agency had things under control and citizen help was not needed.