“The circumstances are still pretty confusing,” said one Irish diplomat working to assist citizens who had “lived through hell.”
Those who made it back to Ireland were very lucky, said the diplomat, who asked not to be identified.
For the past week, U.S. and Irish officials attributed the inability of friends and family in Ireland to contact loved ones in the New Orleans area to downed power and telephone facilities.
There were times when Irish officials had even graver concerns.
“We did not know reliably, nor could we ever rule out if our citizens were injured or even dead,” said the diplomat.
Asked how it felt to play a role in getting people back home with friends and family, the diplomat said it was all “part of the job.”
Those Irish citizens who do make it out of the disaster area in the coming days will be brought to Baton Rouge, La. as Texas is no longer accepting refugees from the storm ravaged and flooded areas.
Irish government officials are staying in close contact with British consular officials who plan to send a team directly into New Orleans with a U.S. military escort.
Late last week, U.S. officials set up consular centers at the massive Houston Astrodome stadium and at the disaster relief staging center in Baton Rouge to allow foreign diplomats to make contact with their citizens as they straggled in from scenes of destruction and mayhem.
The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, welcomed the announcement by Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, and the Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Conor Lenihan, offering