To all concerned:
We are witnessing a swift change by the local, state, and federal agencies that are embedded in the disaster prone areas on how non-registered volunteer organizations are being treated and prevented from attempting to provide logistical needs to those affected.
Mexico Beach is off limits as of 6 am 10/23/18 unless you’re a registered organization through Tallahassee or a Federal entity authorized to operate within. A special armband is required to be worn for access.
Port St. Joe is potentially next on the list as it too received devastating destruction.
Outlying areas are receiving the support required and folks know where to get aid/relief.
Bill Hoppner and I were shunned when we offered our service and support. The Supply Center controlled by a Red Cross team advised us that our American Legion resources and services were not required, that they had everything they needed, and that we should go talk with the County EOC.
Today I was called and informed that tractor trailers, large trailers, large trucks with hurricane aid supplies will be turned away from all (POD) Point of Distribution sites and Designated Supply Centers. They will be referred / advised to take their loads to a designated warehouse in the Tallahassee area to off load. There the supplies will be segregated, stored, and shipped to the PODs or Supply Centers when commodities are requested.
As a State EOC representative implied, we are considered “Amateurs” and they do not want us in their way, providing services or support to those that are in need.
The material shift is rapidly changing and those registered organizations are not prepared to support those endeavors. When they begin to pack up and go back to where they came from, the local residents will begin seeking organizations such as The American Legion to assist with some of their needs and we must be ready.
Our final push of basic necessities will continue over the next three weeks thru November 17th. Those American Legion Posts in the affected areas who are willing to accept and distribute supplies to their veterans and communities are requested to contact either William “Bill” Hoppner at firstname.lastname@example.org / (305) 968-7979 or Stephen Shuga at email@example.com / (407) 394-5534 to coordinate your request.
We will alert all who have given to stop acquiring the typical support currently being provided as they are swamped with supplies. We will request that all further shipments beyond November 17th stop until further notice.
Due to the rapid response of the local, state, federal agencies and programs that have overwhelmed the affected areas, support continues to press on. The utility companies have been feverishly working to turn on power, water, sewage, and communications. Boil water notices are lifting, and soon the curfews will end. Students are returning to school and the local infrastructure is springing back to life. All that’s left is the cleanup and rebuilding.
Just remember this: “ Our Veterans are Our #1 Concern and We Will Take Care of Our Veterans! “
For God and Country.
PDC Stephen Shuga