The scene is familar. The hectic shelter, Red Cross volunteers running all over the place. Dr. Michael Derecher has seen this all before. He returned from Louisiana a week and half ago after responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He came to Germain Arena this afternoon to find he is the only physician on staff as thousands of Southwest Florida residents sit on edge waiting for Hurricane Wilma to come through.
The scene that met Derecher at the front gate of Germain was not all that different from what he saw in Larose, La.
"The problem is disorganization," Derecher says. "It sucked in Louisiania and it sucks here."
Most of Germain's evacuees have set up mattresses in the arena's hockey rink on thick pads that have been laid down over the ice. But a large number of evacuees have also set up beds and inflatable mattresses in the arena's concrete hallways and they are too crowded, Derecher, says.
He has set up office near the shelter's entrance. Evacuees has laid down sleeping bags in front of the desk where Derecher has set up office. "They've got too many people coming in here," he says.
Medical responders try to clear a path through the hallways in order to move a stretcher from one end of the arena to the other. They shout at people to clear a path and eventually one emerges. "See, this is what I'm talking about," Derecher says.
He is thankfull that nothing major has happened. Most of the arena's population is getting ready to call an end to a hectic day of waiting for Hurricane Wilma. "There was a little girl that might have strep throat," Derecher said.
But he doesn't have the equipment to take a culture sample and see if she is in fact sick with the throat virus. He doesn't really have the facilities to treat people and give any long term care. During times of emergency is where organization is the most important, Derecher says.
He saw dissaray in Louisiana.
He sees it here tonight.
He doesn't place blame with the Red Cross, Derecher says, but attributes the breakdown to the goverment's poor planning for emergencies."It's not the Red Cross' fault," he says. "They want to get people in and get them back out as fast as they possibly can. They do a great job of that."