Sorting through hurricane evacuee complaints

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Beyond the very serious issues being addressed at two state shelters in west Shreveport, some evacuees in the remaining shelters are experiencing the "grass is always greener effect," in comparing shelters.

Third-hand rumors about the great conditions elsewhere lead to feelings of frustration and anger.  So, we decided to compare shelters on both sides of the Red River.  We asked some of the hurricane evacuees about the perception that some complaints might be a little trivial and that they do not seem grateful.  Here's what we found:

Hurricane evacuee Shirley Johnson told us, "my bed's not comfortable.  It's not."  It's been a rough couple of days for Johnson.  This mother of three from New Orleans is among the 13-hundred people staying inside the CenturyTel Center in Bossier City.

Her friend Shakima Hawkins also claims the Red Cross isn't doing enough, insisting, "they're not!  Red Cross is not helping us.  We need money; we're broke.  You can't wash clothes."  Others complain shuttles won't take them to a landromat.

Some evacuees also told us they're not always treated with respect.  "I got eight, a family of eight and they always complain, 'oooh, eight or this or that.'  I didn't even get my kids no breakfast this morning.  I walked to the store and I went and got my kids something to eat," said hurricane evacuee Shantelle Adams.

We came to the CenturyTel Center shelter after hearing how it's so superior to the Red Cross shelter at LSU-Shreveport.  But, we found the very same complaints here.

Speaking of LSU-S, we met evacuees who complained the Red Cross was hording its supplies. "You go to the window.  They got hundreds of cases of pampers.  They're giving people two diapers with three wipes," described evacuee Norma Lockley.

A Red Cross official told us that complaints about non-essential factors is normal for people forced from their homes and worried about their property, not to mention the financial strain on them.  Officials said they've learned to just accept certain complaints as part of taking care of evacuees.

But, they also walk a fine line, because some complaints are valid and need attention, sometimes immediately.