Many US hurricane victims have missing relatives

Many victims of Hurricane Katrina at the River Center shelter in Baton Rouge, the capital city of the southern US state of Louisiana, have missing relatives, Dick Burch, a staff member of the American Red Cross, told Xinhua on Monday.

At least 90 percent of the about 5,000 victims who were housed at the River Center shelter reported a missing relative when they first arrived, he said.

Nearly 500,000 residents of New Orleans, Louisiana, were made homeless when the city was flooded after Katrina pounded the southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and caused breaches to the levees that protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain.

With tens of thousands of people evacuated, many people lost contact with their family members, who might be moved to other places, he said.

The Red Cross set up the River Center shelter on Aug. 28, one day before the hurricane made a landfall, to provide shelter to those people who fled their homes ahead of the hurricane, he said.

Most of them came on their own to seek shelter at the center, Burch said.

A man came and patted Burch on the shoulder, and Burch said later that the man wanted to express his thanks to the Red Cross for helping him come into contact with his missing relative.

However, a woman victim was not as lucky, Nathan Broshear, a US Air Force airman at the New Orleans international airport, told Xinhua.

The woman's child was out before the hurricane struck, and the woman had not seen him or heard from him since, he said.

Burch came from Oregon, a state in the northwest. "I paid moneyfor my plane ticket. The Red Cross should reimburse the money, but if it didn't, that would be my donation," he said jokingly.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency would come and take over the River Center shelter on Tuesday, another Red Cross workersaid.

When asked by Xinhua Why the government did not respond as quickly as the Red Cross to the hurricane, Burch said "I don't know."

"The Red Cross is an organization that's willing to help. That's our mission," he added.

Source: Xinhua



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