Evacuees Reconnecting with Loved Ones
by: Laurie Johnson, September 6, 2005 5:09:00 am
Volunteer Joseph Camp is helping one young woman search for a man she believes is housed in the Astrodome. They found the man, but paged him for several hours in the Dome and got no response. This is where the system breaks down at times. Even with all the sophisticated technology and databases of names, if someone walks outside or leaves for a few hours there's no way to contact them or determine if they're coming back. Red Cross Volunteer Karen Lytle is in charge of the reconnection efforts at the computer center inside the dome.
The computer center serves between 50 and 70 evacuees per hour, a few hundred each day, almost all of them looking for loved ones. Some of them leave disappointed, not knowing anything more than when they arrived. But Lytle says she helped one man who has looking for his daughter and his 92-year-old mother. His daughter was found in Louisiana, but his mother was in a nursing home and New Orleans when the levees broke and he had no idea if she was even alive.
Plenty of people are finding their loved ones. But a lack of communication in the Dome is also presenting problems. Several volunteers in the Joint Information Center had never heard of the Computer Center. A few volunteers on the floor of the Dome also had no idea such a service was being offered and expressed frustration that so little information was being shared between departments and agencies.
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