Head of Houston Food Bank Remembers Katrina Well

The former head of the New Orleans food bank says he's learned some valuable lessons from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, a year after he rode-out the storm in nearby Baton Rouge and stayed to pick up the pieces afterward. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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Houston Food Bank CEO Brian Greene had already been hired here when Katrina hit New Orleans one year ago, but he stayed in Louisiana to coordinate recovery and food distribution for thousands of residents in the city and those who evacuated. Greene says access to the main food bank was cut off, so officials set-up a new one.

"Later in the week we managed to move into an empty Wal-Mart outside of Baton Rouge and that became the New Orleans Food Bank for the next month and it actually became the largest food bank in the history of food banking. By the time I came here, it was up to moving about a half a million pounds of food a day."

Greene says he learned lessons in the chaos and has implemented a revised disaster plan for the Houston Food Bank.

"We never had the experience, well what happens when you basically wipe-out a city. You just have no communications, the roads are very limited, no partners in that program. How do you continue to operate? So the lessons learned were immense and fortunately for the country now all the cities have that information and the America's Second Harvest Food Banks have built that into our planning."

He says many of the so-called "shelters of last resort" in New Orleans were understocked after Katrina because officials miscalculated the hurricane's damage. He says that won't happen here in Houston and that all shelters will be fully stocked with food and water if a storm heads our way.

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