Statement by Ben Smilowitz, Executive Director of the Disaster Accountability Project on the decision to not maintain a Shelter of Last Resort in New Orleans:
While encouraging the evacuation of every last person in New Orleans and surrounding areas is the right thing to do, undoubtedly some people will fail to evacuate after the last bus departs. I fear a decision to not adequately maintain a shelter of last resort in such a vulnerable metropolitan area is short-sighted, dangerous, and over-confident. At the minimum, emergency relief workers will need an active shelter in order to support their efforts if and when the storm arrives.
Statement by Ben Smilowitz, Executive Director of the Disaster Accountability Project on potential for ICE/immigration enforcement activity during storm evacuation procedures:
As the Gulf Coast braces for a potentially major hurricane of Katrina proportions, the Department of Homeland Security must unequivocally announce that all immigration enforcement actions are suspended until the situation has passed in order to facilitate the evacuation of all individuals without worry or threat of checkpoints and other ICE enforcement activities.
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE THE TOLL FREE NUMBER IN AFFECTED AREAS: 866-9-TIP-DAP (866-984-7327)
The Disaster Accountability Project's toll-free hotline (866-9-TIP-DAP) is ready for Gustav-related calls from Gulf Coast residents and relief workers. Should there be gaps in Disaster Relief services before or after landfall, individuals should use the toll-free hotline (866-9-TIP-DAP) to report the specific location and nature of the service gaps.
"The sooner gaps in services are realized, the faster they'll be addressed-- especially when groups and agencies are exposed for not doing their jobs," said Ben Smilowitz, Executive Director, Disaster Accountability Project, and former site-manager of a Red Cross Client Service Center in Gulfport, MS soon after Katrina hit. "After Katrina, there was no whistleblower hotline. Public knowledge about gaps in disaster relief services will better ensure they’re quickly addressed—and made a top priority."
The nonpartisan Disaster Accountability Project provides accountability and oversight to the nation's disaster prevention, response, relief, and recovery systems through monitoring and policy research.
A toll-free hotline (866-9-TIP-DAP) is available as a public service for disaster survivors, workers and volunteers to report critical gaps in disaster prevention, response, relief, and recovery services or planning. The group is recruiting a national network of Disaster Accountability Monitors and Bloggers to help report, verify, and publicize gaps in disaster services or planning.
The Disaster Accountability Project's website is http://www.DisasterAccountability.org
Disaster Accountability Project is a 2008 Echoing Green Fellowship Organization.
For more information: http://www.echoinggreen.org/fellows/ben-smilowitz