With today being the first day of Hurricane season, now is certainly the time to reflect on the needs of our communities that are so at risk and vulnerable during this time of year. In the past it was okay to stay home and batten down the hatches; however, due to the land loss the protections our communities had in the past are unfortunately too little to withstand the strength of hurricanes and tropical storms.
Several years ago after Hurricane Katrina, the Tribe conducted a project called "How Safe, How Soon?" The intent was to find out from our citizens what their needs were. You resoundingly responded that you recognize you need to evacuate, but many of you need assistance and you want to evacuate as a tribal family. We heard you.
When Hurricane Gustav approached, it was the first time all of our service area was under a mandatory evacuation. Particularly we had several families that had no options or place to turn to. With a short window of time to work, tribal leaders were able to coordinate with the Mississippi Choctaw Tribe in Philadelphia, MS to accept a small caravan of tribal citizens in and house them. That group were openly welcomed by our Choctaw brothers and sisters and were taken out of harms way where they were able to be together.
Since that time we have been working behind the scenes to make that an option for those of you that need that kind of help. Today we have a cooperative agreement with the Mississippi Choctaw to shelter our citizens during times of need. Additionally, the UHN has worked with Terrebonne Parish Emergency Preparedness to provide transportation for those who do not have reliable transportation.
To be efficient, we do require individuals who need this assistance to sign up in advance. This will help the process run smoother. The Mississippi shelter will not accept individuals without pre-registering with the UHN. To sign up to evacuate with the UHN, please contact Bette Billiot at (985)223-3093 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Dardar, Jr.