Region 8 Disaster Victims Not Happy With Help

September 8, 2005 – Posted at 5:54 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- As Region 8 grows with Katrina evacuees, many are re-adjusting to their new surroundings, but for one family from New Orleans, finding help in a new state hasn't been easy. They say they have been victimized, not only by the storm, but also by those who were supposed to help them.
“When we get up in the morning, we sing 'we all in our places, we're sunshine and faces, good morning to you' to build up our morale, to keep us going, and we're all together's rough. I didn't think it would be like this,” said disaster victim Michelle Nelson.
Nelson and his family arrived in Arkansas early this week. Evacuated from Louisiana, they arrived at Ft. Smith, where they spent 18 hours before they were relocated to Jonesboro.
“The governors wife got on the bus and said we was going to a camp, and it was going to be better then where we were.  This is not better then where we were,” said Katrina survivor Jeanette Birdstraw.
The family arrived in Region 8 at a Red Cross Shelter where they say had only a mattress on the floor and no phone or Internet access. Because of Birdstraw's bad back, they were placed at the Days Inn in Jonesboro, where they will stay for the next two weeks. In need of medical supplies and prescriptions, the family started looking for help.
“We walked over to the NEA Medical Clinic, where we were told by someone we are not accepting anymore people from the disaster relief. So then we walked all the way back,” said Nelson.
A spokesperson for NEA says things have been taken care of now, and the facility is still helping disaster victims.
“We've been in contact with that family. We're not quite sure what happened, but we have them set up with a physician appointment now.  We'll take care of all their needs,” said Holly Acebo, marketing director of NEA Clinic.
Medicine isn't the family's only problem; they’re not sure from where their next meal is coming.
“We had no idea until your camera person told us where we can go,” said Nelson, “We had a lunch. We had a dinner, and we don't know what is happening from this point as I speak to you now, what's going to happen from that point on.”
"We've been lied to from the time we left New Orleans, and the lies are still going on. We would like to know the truth, if you don't know, say you don't know, don't lie,” said Birdstraw.
“I feel like they have dropped the ball. I know that ball was dropped; I’m feeling it. I'm living that ball that was dropped,” sighed Nelson.
Washington has rushed through more money for disaster relief. Congress has approved over 51 billion dollars in emergency aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina. President Bush says red tape will be cut to get aid to victims.