Citizen Flotilla Turned
Back By Louisiana Department
Of Wildlife & Fisheries

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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