On March 31st, a Louisiana television station ran the following piece:
Thousands of volunteers from around the city have been playing crucial roles in the re-building of New Orleans, but the non-profit and religious groups that sponsor them are worried because FEMA plans to close the tent cities that have housed many of the volunteers.
â€œItâ€™s been astounding, weâ€™ve been able to enlist the support of over, almost 3000 volunteers, if not more than that,â€ said Mike Hayes with Habitat for Humanity.
Many of the volunteers have been living in â€œtent citiesâ€ set up by FEMA. Two of them housed 1,200 volunteers at a time at a cost of about $100 per person per day. The tent cities had places to sleep, a shower, and a cafeteria.
â€œWeâ€™ve been staying in the FEMA tents, and they have fed us, itâ€™s awesome food, I mean itâ€™s awesome housing, they got hot showers every night for us, so itâ€™s been a great experience so far,â€ said Auburn University volunteer Lindsey Harder.
FEMA said it has scheduled to close the camps on April 10 and 11.
â€œWhy is this facility being closed down? Well FEMA originally had contracts for about the last six months to operate three camps in the New Orleans areas, and the contracts run out mid-April,â€ saidFEMA representative Leo Skinner.
The AP reports today that FEMA gave the camps a reprieve:
Camps set up for volunteers who have been traveling to coastal Louisiana parishes to help clear hurricane debris and gut damaged buildings will remain open longer than planned.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency had planned to close the camps, but officials have decided to keep them open at least until June 1.
I’m glad that this last minute decision was made to extend the camps, but I still don’t understand why anyone would have thought to close them in the first place. Hopefully FEMA will soon figure out a sustainable plan for housing volunteers, whose efforts will be needed for years to come.