Citizen Flotilla Turned Back By Louisiana Department Of Wildlife & Fisheries


Richard Moore

From: "Westaway" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Citizen Flotilla Turned Back By Louisiana Department Of Wildlife & 
Date: Sun, 4 Sep 2005 20:45:59 -0700

Citizen Flotilla Turned
Back By Louisiana Department
Of Wildlife & Fisheries
By Elisabeth Bumiller and Adam Nagourney
NY Times

My name is Jason Robideaux, I am an attorney from Lafayette Louisiana and
have dealt with all of the various law enforcement agencies in Louisiana
during the past 18 years. Although I have had a positive relationship with
law enforcement personnel throughout the State for many years, I regretfully
have a story to share that will shake your head in disbelief about the La.
Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries.

A group of approximately 1,000 citizens pulling 500 boats left the Acadiana
Mall in Lafayette this morning (Weds.) and headed to New Orleans with a
police escort from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff´s Department. The
"flotillia" of trucks pulling boats stretched over five miles. This citizen
rescue group was organized by La. State Senator, Gautreaux from Vermilion
Parish. The group was comprised of experienced boaters, licensed fishermen
and hunters, people who have spent their entire adult life and teenage years
on the waterways of Louisiana.

The State Police waved the flotillia of trucks/boats through the barricades
in LaPlace and we sped into New Orleans via I-10 until past the airport and
near the Clearview exit. At that time we were stopped by agents of the La.
Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries. A young DWF agent strolled through the boats
and told approximately half of the citizens that their boats were "too
large" because the water had "dropped during the night" and that they should
turn around and go home.

We were pulling a large (24ft) shallow draft aluminum boat that can safely
carry 12 passengers and had ramp access which would allow the elderly and
infirm to have easier access to the boat. We politely informed the DWF agent
that the local and national media had consistently reported that the water
level had "risen" during the night which contradicted his statement to us
that the water "was dropping" and no boat over 16ft. in length would be
allowed to participate in rescue operations.

We then specifically asked the DWF agent that we (and other citizens in the
flotillia) be allowed to go to the hospitals and help evacuate the sick and
the doctors and nurses stranded there. We offered to bring these people back
to Lafayette, in our own vehicles, in order to ensure that they received
proper and prompt medical care.

The DWF agent did not want to hear this and ordered us home. We complied
with the DWF agent´s orders, turned around and headed back to Lafayette
along with half of the flotillia. However, two of my friends were pulling my
other boat, a smaller 15ft alumaweld with a 25 hp. The DWF agents let them
through to proceed to the rescue operation launch site.

My two friends were allowed to drive to the launch site where the La. Dept.
of Wildlife and Fisheries were launching their rescue operations (via boat).
They reported to me that there were over 200 DWF agents just standing around
and doing nothing. My friends were kept there for approximately 3 hours.
During that time they observed a large number of DWF agents doing nothing.
After three hours had passed they were told that they were not needed and
should go home. They complied with the DWF´s orders and turned around and
went home to Lafayette.

Watching CNN tonight, there was a telephone interview with a Nurse trapped
in Charity Hospital in New Orleans. She said that there were over 1,000
people trapped inside of the hospital and that the doctors and nurses had
zero medical supplies, no diesel to run the generators and that only three
people had been rescued from the hospital since the Hurricane hit!

I can´t come up with one logical reason why the DWF sent this large group of
500 boats/1000 men home when we surely could have rescued most, if not all,
of the people trapped in Charity Hospital. Further, we had the means to
immediately transport these people to hospitals in Southwest Louisiana.

On Tuesday afternoon, August 30, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee asked
for all citizens with boats to come to the aid of Jefferson Parish. A short
time later Dwight Landreneau, the head of the La. Depart. of Wildlife and
Fisheries, got on television and remarked that his agency had things under
control and citizen help was not needed. Apparently, Sheriff Lee did not
agree with that assessment and had one of his deputies provide the Lafayette
flotillia with an escort into Jefferson Parish.

Sheriff Lee and Senator Gautreaux - 1000 of Louisiana´s citizens responded
to your pleas for help. We were prevented from helping by Dwight
Landreneau´s agency, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. When I
learned that Charity Hospital has not been evacuated and that no one has
been there to attempt a rescue, I became angry.

The "turf-marking" by some minor state agency should never take priority
over the lives of citizens!


Bewildered and Frustrated,

Jason Robideaux
Attorney At Law

1005 Lafayette Street
Lafayette, La. 70501
(337) 291-9444 office


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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

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