Vienna, 1 September 2005 - "Although the Austrians affected by the hurricane on the south-east coast of the USA and their dependants are currently going through terrible times, we hope that they will all be safely evacuated from the danger zone by the American relief workers as soon as possible. An experienced member of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs who travelled yesterday to Houston has established contact with most of the Austrians who were in New Orleans and will be offering them assistance as soon as they arrive in Houston," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on Thursday. "This consular assistance will ensure, amongst other things, that the Austrians, some of whom have lost everything, are provided with the necessary papers and resources to enable them to return home."
In addition, she continued, it is important for them to be able to come to terms with what they have been through. "For this reason, a team from the Austrian Red Cross will be setting out in the next few hours for Houston to provide psychological support for the Austrians caught up in the disaster," she explained.
The four-strong team assigned by the Ministry includes a psychologist, a psychosocial expert and a doctor. They will be taking medical equipment with them in case it is needed. Their aim will be to provide support for those who have already been evacuated and, if necessary, persons awaiting evacuation - in this case by phone. If needed and desired, the team can also accompany those affected on their return journey and help to arrange follow-up treatment in Austria.
Upon arrival in Houston, the team will start working together with the Austrian Consul General, who was despatched from Washington yesterday.