Madison: There are beds waiting for evacuees, and there are volunteers waiting with their bags packed, but emergency management officials say you need to continue to have patience.
The Emergency Operations Command Center has been up and running in Madison for a couple days now, but Wisconsin Emergency Management officials are waiting for the call. "We're kind of on hold, but preparations are still going on," says spokesperson Jan Klawitter.
Governor Doyle offered up 1,100 beds for evacuees, but there are no buses headed north. "That offer was made. We've not heard any official word back from FEMA about evacuees coming. What we're hearing at the moment is evacuations out of Texas are on hold."
FEMA has put that on hold, but another inter–governmental agency is also playing the waiting game. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact–or EMAC– is a mutual aid agreement between states. "You've heard of mutual aid locally where firefighters come help each other out. This is where states can help each other out," says WI Emergency Spokesperson Lori Getter.
The Governor's of each state–not FEMA-are in charge of asking for help.
Word has gone out for pharmacists and wildfire firefighters but Wisconsin has not sent anybody, often because other states have been asked first. "The last week or so most of the functions have been coming from surrounding states because they're closer and they understand the region," says Getter.
Four Madison firefighters are also on standby waiting for FEMA's invite. "In terms of when that's going to be we don't know," says Madison Fire Department spokesperson Lori Wirth.
But the firefighters understand help will continue to be needed months from now and it's better to wait than rush in and not be utilized. "I know there is some frustration at this point from firefighters that are already down there who didn't know the scope of the mission," says Wirth.
In the meantime, Lori Getter has some good advice for everybody. "I know it's frustrating. We're all very frustrated. We all feel for these people. We all want to help and lend a hand. But be patient."