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Right city, wrong stateFEMA accused of flying evacuees to wrong Charleston
Tuesday, September 6, 2005; Posted: 11:29 p.m. EDT (03:29 GMT)
Dr. Robert Ball, right, waits for evacuees to arrive Tuesday at a Charleston, South Carolina airport.
A South Carolina health official said his colleagues scrambled Tuesday when FEMA gave only a half-hour notice to prepare for the arrival of a plane carrying as many as 180 evacuees to Charleston.
But the plane, instead, landed in Charleston, West Virginia, 400 miles away.
It was not known whether arrangements have been made to care for the evacuees or transport them to the correct destination.
A call seeking comment from FEMA was not immediately returned.
"We called in all the available resources," said Dr. John Simkovich, director of public health for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
"They responded within 30 minutes, which is phenomenal, to meet the needs of the citizens coming in from Louisiana," he said.
Simkovich said that the agency had described some of the evacuees as needing "some minor treatment ... possibly some major treatment."
"Unfortunately, the plane did not come in," Simkovich said. "There was a mistake in the system, coming out through FEMA, that we did not receive the aircraft this afternoon. It went to Charleston, West Virginia."
A line of buses and ambulances idled behind him at Charleston International Airport as he described what happened.
"This is a 'no event' for today," Simkovich said.