Update Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Hurricane Gustav Evacuee

NORTH LITTLE ROCK –The State of Arkansas is closely monitoring the storm situation in Louisiana and preparing to release pertinent information to the 4,000 known evacuees in Arkansas as soon as possible, including when Louisiana citizens will be allowed to return to their homes. Arkansas Department of Emergency Management David Maxwell said the announcement will come in close coordination with Louisiana officials.

Louisiana will send an official representative to every state which is housing storm evacuees. According to a Louisiana Department of Human Services employee, her state plans to deploy individuals who had worked on the evacuation process to each state sheltering evacuees. Those people will be discussing various things with Arkansas officials including when it will be safe for evacuees to return to their homes. That information will be dispensed very quickly to each shelter once it is received by Arkansas officials, said Maxwell.

ADEM’s EOC is operating at its highest level, 24 hours a day throughout the storm.  In addition, the Arkansas Department of Health is continuing operations in its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to ensure that the public health needs of the evacuee population and Arkansas residents are met. ADH held a planning meeting this morning in its EOC to discuss patient care in the state and determine resources needed to care for the evacuees, reconnect them with family members, and ultimately aid them in safely reaching a desired location.

The ADH EOC staff is continuously tracking Hurricane Gustav storm activities and the situation in Louisiana and other hurricane affected states to determine the most effective and safest plan of action in caring for persons displaced by the storm. The ADH EOC has staff members manning the patient tracking hotline and addressing any population health care concerns. The ADH has received guidance from the US WIC Office in the Southwest Region and the Louisiana WIC Program regarding Louisiana WIC participants in Arkansas.

*       Evacuees have been designated at special nutrition risk and therefore will receive high priority for certification.

*       Evacuees do not have to present proof of identity, residency or income if documentation is not available. But in the case that you do need to prove your identity you should have identity verification service help you.

*       Evacuees will be given Verification of Certification cards to ensure continuation of benefits should they relocate to another location.

*       As a result of the relocation of Hurricane Gustav evacuees to many different areas, the Louisiana WIC State Agency has determined that September food instruments may be accepted by any WIC-authorized vendor in any State.

The ADH, in partnership with other local, state, and independent Agencies, continues to work in supporting the health and social care needs of evacuees within the state and appreciates the ongoing support from the residents of Arkansas.