United Houma Nation Braces for Tropical Storm Barry

“Louisiana tribe [United Houman Nation] evacuates citizens to shelters provided by federally-recognized tribes ** Updated Saturday 9 am EST” P. Talahongva, ICT

Chief August Creppel of the United Houma Nation

Excerpt: Tribes brace for Tropical Storm Barry, By Patty Tala hongva, ICT

“Tropical Storm Barry is expected to be a full-blown hurricane by the time it hits land in the gulf coast early Saturday morning. It is the first hurricane of the season.

For days Chief August Creppel of the United Houma Nation, south of New Orleans, and his staff have been issuing warnings and preparing its 17,000-plus members to evacuate 24 hours in advance. The tribe’s headquarters is in Golden Meadow along the gulf and in the direct path of the storm. Most of the members live in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish which are both under emergency evacuation orders by local officials.

This photo was taken in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. Some tribal members didn’t rebuild after Katrina. (Facebook)

‘Definitely thousands of our people will be affected by the hurricane,’ warns the chief. He also serves as firefighter and will be on duty until Monday morning.

‘We have a radio station,’ says Creppel. ‘I have a council of people in different areas who keep in contact with local communities. We also have a tribal website we put out information.’

On the front page of the tribe’s website is a form members can fill out to report storm damage and request funds for repairs once they return home.

Tribal members packed their bags and piled furniture high on Thursday to try and avoid the expected floodwaters as much as possible. Nothing is guaranteed because the storms seem to be increasing due to climate change.

A Category 1 hurricane used to be ‘no problem,’ said Chief Creppel. ‘Normally our people would just ride it out, but now it doesn’t take much high water and our people are already flooded.’

Because they are only state-recognized tribe he will not get direct federal aid to help his tribal members. They will rely on state assistance, the goodwill of donors and emergency-assistant groups like the Red Cross, which has already contacted the tribe.

‘We can do more for our people once we get federal recognition,’ he says. ‘Right now, I’m trying to push through Congress to get a bill passed.’

The Tunica Biloxi tribe has a big pavilion and are set up to host storm evacuees. Tunica is a three-hour drive away.

Houma citizens can also seek shelter with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw which is a five- to six-hour drive away. Both of those tribes are federally-recognized.”