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Anatomy of a Disaster

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Author Topic: Anatomy of a Disaster  (Read 373 times)
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« on: August 29, 2007, 10:49:42 pm »

This is a copy of a thread I started two years ago in response to Hurricane Katrina, in our Ancient Mysteries forum.  Since today is the two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I thought it would be a good idea to bring it all over here and relive the anger and the shock we all felt at that time, the feelings that so many of the residents of New Orleans are still experiencing, unfortunately.
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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2007, 10:50:46 pm »

(Me - 09/03/05)

The purpose of this topic is to explore the very real side effects that occur when a disaster of the kind we have seen this week comes, strikes, and destroys. I'd like to look at the effects these calamities have had throughout history on both places and people. Naturally some of this has to do with Atlantis, and yet that is only the academic part of it. The part that currently concerns both my heart and my feelings has to do with what has happened to New Orleans.

The hurricane tore up the coastline of the Gulf Coast. It picked up whole buildings and deposited them in other places. It left some areas buried under twenty feet of water, it might take six months to get all the water out. The infrastructure might never be repaired. The entire city is being evacuated, a city that once held nearly five hundred thousand people is to become a ghost town, the only people left will be the dead and they dying.

And the dead are everywhere, sitting in wheelchairs, lying in attics, abandoned on highways. If ever there was a time that people should come together, than this is it.

The Mayor wanted to evacuate the city before the hurricane struck, and many people did try to leave. It's important to realize that many of people that couldn't get away are the ones that couldn't get away - the poor, the infirm, people who had no choice but to stay.

Many died, many of those who stayed lost everything, even their loved ones.

Those in and around centers in and around refugee centers had to wait four days to even get any real help. Sure they can get food for one day, who knows about the next.

It will be weeks before we can get the final scope of just how great the tragedy was. Who knows how many people will have died, maybe less than the 9 to 12,000 that died in Galveston in 1900, maybe easily more than the 3,000 that died on September 11. Certainly it will be the greatest natural disaster to ever hit the United States in our lifetime.

No matter what the final number is, we have all lost something this week. I will never again look at my life and feel bad about things because it isn't going the way I want. I'll know that things could always be worse.
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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2007, 10:51:43 pm »

New Orleans left to the dead and dying

Sunday, 04 September , 2005, 08:24

New Orleans: The last bedraggled refugees were rescued from the Superdome on Saturday and the convention center was all but cleared, leaving the heart of New Orleans to the dead and dying, the elderly and frail stranded too many days without food, water or medical care.

No one knows how many were killed by Hurricane Katrina's floods and how many more succumbed waiting to be rescued. But the bodies are everywhere: hidden in attics, floating among the ruined city, crumpled on wheelchairs, abandoned on highways.

The last refugees at the Superdome and the convention center climbed aboard buses Saturday bound for shelters, but the dying goes on.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Saturday that she expected the death toll to reach the thousands. And Craig Vanderwagen, rear admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service, said one morgue alone, at a St. Gabriel prison, expected 1,000 to 2,000 bodies.

Touring the airport triage center, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a physician, said "a lot more than eight to 10 people are dying a day."

Most were those too sick or weak to survive. But not all.

Charles Womack, a 30-year-old roofer, said he saw one man beaten to death and another commit suicide at the Superdome. Womack was beaten with a pipe and being treated at an airport triage center, where bodies were kept in a refrigerated truck.

"One guy jumped off a balcony. I saw him do it. He was talking to a lady about it. He said it reminded him of the war and he couldn't leave," he said.

Three babies died at the convention center from heat exhaustion, said Mark Kyle, a medical relief provider.

But some progress was evident. The last 300 refugees at the Superdome were evacuated Saturday evening, eliciting cheers from members of the Texas National Guard who had been standing watch over the facility for nearly a week as some 20,000 hurricane survivors waited for rescue.

The convention center was "almost empty" after 4,200 people were removed, according to Marty Bahamonde, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

At the convention center, where earlier estimates of the crowd climbed as high as 25,000, thousands of refugees dragged their meager belongings to buses, the mood more numb than jubilant. Yolando Sanders, who had been stuck at the convention center for five days, was among those who filed past corpses to reach the buses.

"Anyplace is better than here," she said.

"People are dying over there."

Nearby, a woman lay dead in a wheelchair on the front steps. A man was covered in a black drape with a dry line of blood running to the gutter, where it had pooled. Another had lain on a chaise lounge for four days, his stocking feet peeking out from under a quilt.

By mid-afternoon, only pockets of stragglers remained in the streets around the convention center, and New Orleans paramedics began carting away the dead.

A once-vibrant city of 480,000 people, overtaken just days ago by floods, looting, **** and arson, was now an empty, sodden tomb.

The exact number of dead won't be known for some time. Survivors were still being plucked from roofs and shattered highways across the city. President Bush ordered more than 7,000 active duty forces to the Gulf Coast on Saturday.

"There are people in apartments and hotels that you didn't know were there," Army Brig. Gen. Mark Graham said.

The overwhelming majority of those stranded in the post-Katrina chaos were those without the resources to escape — and, overwhelmingly, they were black.

"The first few days were a natural disaster. The last four days were a man-made disaster," said Phillip Holt, 51, who was rescued from his home Saturday with his partner and three of their aging Chihuahuas. They left a fourth behind they couldn't grab in time.

Tens of thousands of people had been evacuated from the city, seeking safety in Texas, Tennessee, Indiana and Arkansas.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry warned Saturday that his enormous state was running out of room, with more than 220,000 hurricane refugees camped out there and more coming.

Emergency workers at the Astrodome were told to expect 10,000 new arrivals daily for the next three days.

In Washington, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced that more than 10,000 people had been flown out of New Orleans in what he called the largest airlift in history on U.S. soil. He said the flights would continue as long as needed.

Thousands of people remained at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, where officials turned a Delta Blue terminal into a triage unit. Officials said 3,000 to 5,000 people had been treated at the triage unit, but fewer than 200 remain. Others throughout the airport awaited transport out of the city.

"In the beginning it was like trying to lasso an octopus. When we got here it was overwhelming," said Jake Jacoby, a physician helping run the center.

Airport director Roy Williams said about 30 people had died, some of them elderly and ill. The bodies were being kept in refrigerated trucks as a temporary morgue.

At the convention center, people stumbled toward the helicopters, dehydrated and nearly passing out from exhaustion. Many had to be carried by National Guard troops and police on stretchers. And some were being pushed up the street on office chairs and on dollies.

Nita LaGarde, 105, was pushed down the street in her wheelchair as her nurse's 5-year-old granddaughter, Tanisha Blevin, held her hand. The pair spent two days in an attic, two days on an interstate island and the last four days on the pavement in front of the convention center.

"They're good to see," LaGarde said, with remarkable gusto as she waited to be loaded onto a gray Marine helicopter. She said they were sent by God. "Whatever He has for you, He'll take care of you. He'll sure take care of you."

LaGarde's nurse, Ernestine Dangerfield, 60, said LaGarde had not had a clean adult diaper in more than two days. "I just want to get somewhere where I can get her nice and clean," she said.

Around the corner, a motley fleet of luxury tour buses and yellow school buses lined up two deep to pick up some of the healthier refugees. National Guardsmen confiscated a gun, knives and letter openers from people before they got on the buses.

"It's been a long time coming," Derek Dabon, 29, said as he waited to pass through a guard checkpoint. "There's no way I'm coming back. To what? That don't make sense. I'm going to start a new life."

Hillary Snowton, 40, sat on the sidewalk outside with a piece of white sheet tied around his face like a bandanna as he stared at a body that had been lying on a chaise lounge for four days, its stocking feet peeking out from under a quilt.

"It's for the smell of the dead body," he said of the sheet. His brother-in-law, Octave Carter, 42, said it has been "every day, every morning, breakfast lunch and dinner looking at it."

When asked why he didn't move further away from the corpse, Carter replied, "it stinks everywhere, Blood."

Dan Craig, director of recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said it could take up to six months to get the water out of New Orleans, and the city would then need to dry out, which could take up to three more months.

A Saks Fifth Avenue store billowed smoke Saturday, as did rows of warehouses on the east bank of the Mississippi River, where corrugated roofs buckled and tiny explosions erupted. Gunfire — almost two dozen shots — broke out in the French Quarter overnight.

In the French Quarter, some residents refused or did not know how to get out. Some holed up with guns.

As the warehouse district burned, Ron Seitzer, 61, washed his dirty laundry in the even dirtier waters of the Mississippi River and said he didn't know how much longer he could stay without water or power, surrounded by looters.

"I've never even had a nightmare or a beautiful dream about this," he said as he watched the warehouses burn. "People are just not themselves."

Associated Press
« Last Edit: August 29, 2007, 11:02:10 pm by Tempest » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2007, 10:54:09 pm »

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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2007, 10:56:17 pm »

Evacuees wait as relief efforts build
Military efforts begin amid suffering at convention center, hospitals

Saturday, September 3, 2005; Posted: 10:50 p.m. EDT (02:50 GMT)

Hurricane evacuees cover their faces as they walk past a body lying outside the convention center Saturday.
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Thousands of people faced the prospect of spending another night outside of a New Orleans convention center, as a stream of buses worked to move out the 30,000 evacuees who have been stranded there for days amid mounds of trash and human waste.

Authorities with the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Saturday that 4,000 people had been bused from the Ernest Morial Convention Center.

A huge convoy of buses and military vehicles brought food, water and medical supplies to the convention center Friday afternoon. (See the squalid refugee-camp conditions at the center -- 2:30)

The evacuees headed to the staging area in an orderly fashion when the buses returned Saturday morning, leaving behind the mountains of trash.

Elsewhere in the city, a helicopter hovered above power lines in one flooded neighborhood, dropping food and water to survivors. One man waved in thanks after wading into the contaminated, waist-deep water to get some supplies.

Outside the metropolitan area, attention turned to Katrina's rural victims Saturday.

"Because we've been so busy in New Orleans, we forgot about the country people, and we're trying to address them now," said Richard Zuschlag of Acadian Ambulance Service.

Besides Orleans Parish, the military has established a strong presence in Jefferson Parish to the south, but hasn't begun a systemic search for survivors outside of the metropolitan area, he said.

Saturday, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack Stephens in Chalmette made an urgent request to an ambulance service pilot to ask the military to send food and water to about 2,000 people in the town about five miles southeast of New Orleans.

Authorities said that they have evacuated some 42,000 people from New Orleans proper by bus, air and Amtrak trains. They also said that three Carnival cruise ships were on their way to the area to serve as temporary housing. Most of the evacuees have been moved to shelters in Texas.

Heavily armed law enforcement units were patrolling the city to restore order after reports of gangs prowling the city, looting, raping and killing at will.

A New Orleans police sergeant said Friday that he'd seen bodies riddled with bullet holes.

The Louisiana State Patrol said that there were no confirmed reports of violence overnight. (CNN's Bill Schneider on the question: Who's in control? -- 2:14)

A fire at the Shops at Canal Place, at the foot of Canal Street near the Aquarium of the Americas, started "under suspicious circumstances" since the building has no electricity or gas, firefighters told CNN.

The firefighters battled the blaze throughout the day aided by four water tankers that had been sent to New Orleans from Mississippi. Earlier, people could be seen leaving the building carrying shopping bags filled with merchandise.

Fifty-foot flames also engulfed an industrial district along the Mississippi River and threatened to spread from warehouse to warehouse. (Watch the fires sweep along waterfront -- 5:05)

Although much of the city is covered with foul water, there is no water pressure. An attempt to bring water tankers and fireboats into the area was unsuccessful.

Bush: 'We will make it right'
In a rare live radio address Saturday, President Bush said more than 7,000 additional troops will be sent over the next 24 to 72 hours to areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. (Full story)

"Where our response is not working, we will make it right," he said.

Bush visited hard-hit areas Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana on Friday before returning to Washington to sign a $10.5 billion relief bill. (Full story)

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told reporters on Saturday that government officials did not expect both a powerful hurricane and a breach of levees that would flood the city of New Orleans.

"That perfect storm of combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight," Chertoff said.

He called the disaster "breathtaking in its surprise."

But government officials, scientists, and journalists have warned of such a scenario for years.

Many Americans have expressed outrage over what they perceived to be a slow response from the federal government.

Some questioned whether race was a factor in treatment of the largely black evacuee population.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said Saturday in Houston that race played a role, and called President Bush's response to the crisis "inexcusable." Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have criticized the pace of relief efforts, saying response was slow because those most affected are poor. (Full story)

Hospital evacuated
At New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport on Saturday, babies slept on flattened cardboard boxes as hundreds of evacuees waited to be airlifted.

CNN's Ed Lavandera described a "thunderous buzz" of helicopters delivering evacuees to the airport, where they were getting medical treatment before being moved on to more permanent shelters.

"The hallways are filled, the floors are filled. There are thousands of people there," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told The Associated Press during a visit to the airport. "A lot more than eight to 10 people are dying a day. It's a distribution problem. The doctors are doing a great job, the nurses are doing a great job."

The last 200 patients, who had waited in primitive conditions, were evacuated from Charity Hospital, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported. (Full story)

The hospital has no power, no water and no food. The bodies of patients who have died had been stored in stairwells because the hospital's morgue is flooded.

Although bodies have been spotted for days throughout the city, New Orleans officials have no death toll, instead focusing on rescuing the living.

Residents in Harrison County, Mississippi, complained about the slow pace of the removal of bodies.

People in one Biloxi neighborhood showed CNN the body of their neighbor, wedged under a porch. They said emergency officials are aware of the body and told them not to remove it.

In another Biloxi neighborhood, residents said they found 25 bodies washed up from the floodwaters. (Watch report on growing frustration in Mississippi -- 2:16)

Other developments

About 15,000 people have been evacuated to Houston's Astrodome, which officials say is filled to capacity. Two other shelters were opened nearby that can hold an estimated 26,000 people. (Watch evacuees react to Texas hospitality -- 2:13)

The U.S. Air Force will send 300 troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan to help their families cope with emergencies on a hurricane-devastated air base in Biloxi, Mississippi, a spokesman said Saturday. (Full story)

Offers of support have poured in from all over the world. Many countries have offered condolences and made donations to the Red Cross, including Britain, Japan, Australia and Sri Lanka, which is still recovering from last year's tsunami. (Full story)

CNN's Sean Callebs, Sanjay Gupta, Ed Lavandera, Chris Lawrence and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.
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Stories of heartbreak and hope in Katrina's wake
New Orleans airport housing medical patients
This woman at the New Orleans airport said she can't find her newborn baby.

Posted: 5:28 p.m. ET
CNN's Ed Lavandera in Kenner, Louisiana

There are about 25 helicopters ferrying people back and forth between the New Orleans airport and the city of New Orleans. The airport is becoming a military airfield.

Equipment normally used to move luggage around is being used to move people instead. Inside the terminal of the airport, the FEMA medical teams are overwhelmed with the number of people here.

We have seen many critical patients who have been pulled from area hospitals and brought here. We saw one body taken off a plane on the back of one of these luggage racks.

It is a tense scene inside. I came across a maternity ward of women holding their newborn babies. Every woman was holding a newborn baby except for one woman who had only a picture of her child.

She said her baby had been taken to the intensive care unit. As she was readying to board an aircraft for Ft. Worth, Texas, she told me she didn't know where to find her baby.

The plan is to move a lot of these people out of the airport on fixed-wing aircraft presumably either to Houston or Ft. Worth or other parts of Louisiana as well.

I've also been told by one FEMA official who said they're doing a nationwide bed count of hospitals, perhaps looking for any kind of place that might be able to handle all of these people.

Police struggle to maintain order
Posted: 5:18 p.m. ET
CNN's Chris Lawrence in New Orleans, Louisiana

Police tell us that someone did go by the New Orleans Convention Center and fire at some of the people standing outside. We believe they have that person in custody, although it is hard to get information. The police are very, very tense right now. So it's a little difficult to have them stop and explain what happened.

They're literally riding around with full assault weapons and in full tactical gear in pickup trucks.

It's tough to verify from our vantage point here, but one of the officers said that some of the inmates at the Orleans Parish jail may have taken control of the prison. From what we are hearing, the prisoners have weapons. They have not left the jail. They can't get out. But we heard that they have control of weapons inside the jail.

I never want to compare anything to what's happening in Iraq, but there is one similarity in that the ability to move about as reporters is slowly becoming compromised. To be as safe as possible, we have to sacrifice some of our ability to go out and confirm information and verify stories. And right now, with this safety situation in the city of New Orleans, that's just not possible.

Shots fired at evacuated patients
Posted: 3:18 p.m. ET
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Doctors told me that while trying to evacuate critical patients from Charity Hospital in New Orleans, two of the evacuation vehicles came under fire. The doctors said they were able to get all but one of the patients out of the hospital.

Who was shooting at these vehicles? The doctor I spoke to had no idea. He said a person in a white shirt from a high building started firing upon them as they were trying to evacuate.

Charity Hospital is one of the bigger hospitals in downtown New Orleans. It has a lot of indigent patients. As the doctors were describing it to me, the hospital is overflowing with patients right now and has poor resources.

Doctors said there is lots of water in Charity Hospital's hallways. There's poor electricity and poor resources.

They are trying to move their patients down to Tulane's hospital.

The doctors were frightened for their lives. There was no police presence except for the private armed guards. There was no U.S. military presence. They were very concerned about this. (See the video report of a sniper's attack at the hospital -- 1:06)

This is shocking as a doctor. As a human being, it's unbelievable.

Right now, I'm sitting at this airstrip in Baton Rouge waiting for a helicopter that is coming to evacuate infants. But they are indefinitely delayed because they think it is too dangerous to go in there and land a helicopter and bring these infants to Houston.

I've been in Iraq and Sri Lanka. It is remarkable that this is happening at hospitals here where patients are trying to be evacuated.

Calm prevails amid Mississippi devastation
Posted: 2:20 p.m. ET
CNN's Ted Rowlands in Biloxi, Mississippi

It is a heartbreaking situation in Biloxi, Mississippi, but it pales in comparison to what is happening in New Orleans. There is calm here. There is little unrest.

Additionally, there are some signs that help has arrived. But it is a huge endeavor to clean this area. Most of the structures along the coast have been completely demolished.

The clear difference between Biloxi and New Orleans is that the bodies that are turning up here have been dead for a number of days. They are being found in houses. They were killed in the initial rush of the storm. ( Watch the video detailing corpse recovery in Mississippi -- 3:28)

It isn't bodies in streets. The destruction isn't in a concentrated area. We are talking about pockets of pain in a hundred mile stretch of shore.

Guard gathering in Baton Rouge
Posted: 1:20 p.m. ET
CNN's Deborah Feyerick in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Right now, the main priority is to restore order to New Orleans.

One official told us, "You can't rescue people when you're being shot at." (See the video of how violence is hindering help -- 3:13)

There are hundreds of people from the National Guard here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We're seeing people from all the agencies. They're waiting to deploy.

Their sense is that the condition inside New Orleans is so unstable they don't want to be sending people into harm's way.

Some state officials, though, have been getting into the center of town.

One of them, for example, got in with a bus. He saw one woman who was so desperate she actually handed her 2-month-old baby to another woman and said, "Take my child. I can't get on this bus, but you've got to try to save the child."

The woman promised her she would take care of that baby.

Living like animals
Posted: 1:07 p.m. ET
CNN's Chris Lawrence in New Orleans, Louisiana

It's hard to believe this is New Orleans.

We spent the last few hours at the New Orleans Convention Center. There are thousands of people lying in the street. (See the video of people living among the dead -- 4:36 )

We saw mothers holding babies, some of them just three, four and five months old, living in horrible conditions. Diapers littered the ground. Feces were on the ground. Sewage was spilled all around.

These people are being forced to live like animals. When you look at the mothers, your heart just breaks.

Some of the images we have gathered are very, very graphic.

We saw dead bodies. People are dying at the center and there is no one to get them. We saw a grandmother in a wheelchair pushed up to the wall and covered with a sheet. Right next to her was another dead body wrapped in a white sheet.

Right in front of us a man went into a seizure on the ground. No one here has medical training. There is nowhere to evacuate these people to.

People have been sitting there without food and water and waiting. They are asking -- "When are the buses coming? When are they coming to help us?"

We just had to say we don't know.

The people tell us that National Guard units have come by as a show of force. They have tossed some military rations out. People are eating potato chips to survive and are looting some of the stores nearby for food and drink. It is not the kind of food these people need.

They are saying, "Don't leave us here to die. We are stuck here. Why can't they send the buses? Are they going to leave us here to die?"

'We have to deal with the living'
Posted: 10:49 a.m. ET
CNN's Rick Sanchez in Metairie, Louisiana

We spent the night at the New Orleans Saints' training facility. It is the encampment for the FEMA officials and National Guard troops who will deploy out to certain areas.

They just deployed a new unit out here from California. They're called swift water operation rescue units. These folks are trained to go in and get people out of the homes that they have been stuck in for days now with water all around.

We were with a unit last night on a boat. We watched as they performed many of these rescues. It's quite a sight to see. Bodies are floating along the flooded road. And I asked them, "What do you do about that?" They said, "There's no time to deal with them now. We have to deal with the living." (See the video of thousands stranded among sewage and bodies on the riverfront -- 2:54)

We went off into many communities to see if we could find people. As we were navigating through these narrow areas with power lines and all kinds of obstructions above and below us, we suddenly heard faint screams coming from homes. People were yelling, "Help! Help!"

We found one elderly woman in one home. She told us, "I've been here and I need to get out. Can you get me?" Then she said, "But there are people next door and they have babies, so leave me until morning. Get them out now."

So we contacted the swift water rescue units and they went out there. To our surprise and their surprise there were no fewer than 15 people huddled in their home. We could only hear them. We couldn't see them. We were able to assist and get the right people over there to get them out.

Just like them, there may be literally thousands that need to be rescued. It's a very daunting task for these officials.

Chaos at the convention center
Posted: 10:02 a.m. ET
CNN's Jim Spellman in New Orleans, Louisiana

I don't think I really have the vocabulary for this situation.

We just heard a couple of gunshots go off. There's a building smoldering a block away. People are picking through whatever is left in the stores right now. They are walking the streets because they have nowhere else to go.

Right now, I'm a few blocks away from the New Orleans Convention Center area. We drove through there earlier, and it was unbelievable. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people spent the night sleeping on the street, on the sidewalk, on the median.

The convention center is a place that people were told to go to because it would be safe. In fact, it is a scene of anarchy.

There is absolutely nobody in control. There is no National Guard, no police, no information to be had.

The convention center is next to the Mississippi River. Many people who are sleeping there feel that a boat is going to come and get them. Or they think a bus is going to come. But no buses have come. No boats have come. They think water is going come. No water has come. And they have no food.

As we drove by, people screamed out to us -- "Do you have water? Do you have food? Do you have any information for us?"

We had none of those.

Probably the most disturbing thing is that people at the convention center are starting to pass away and there is simply nothing to do with their bodies. There is nowhere to put them. There is no one who can do anything with them. This is making everybody very, very upset.
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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2007, 11:00:57 pm »

Hurricane’s victims left to die on New Orleans streets
By Bill Van Auken
2 September 2005

New Orleans descended into abject social misery and chaos Thursday as survivors of Hurricane Katrina, left abandoned to their fate for four days, literally began dying in the city’s sewage- and trash-filled streets.

Tens of thousands of people, many with little more than the clothes on their backs, packed sidewalks and streets surrounding the New Orleans Superdome and the city’s convention center, designated as a secondary refuge, to await an evacuation that is coming too late and far too slowly.

There were reports Thursday morning that evacuations had been suspended at least temporarily over security concerns. Shots were reported fired in the vicinity of the Superdome and at least one helicopter was said to have come under gunfire. Trash fires burned in the vicinity, while in another area of the city a housing project off Interstate 10 burned out of control.

Many of those waiting to be evacuated have no water and have not eaten for days. Crowds chanted as television cameras filmed the scene, “We want, we want help,” while others begged, “Don’t leave us here to die.” Many cursed local, state and federal officials for what has emerged as criminal neglect and incompetence from the White House on down.

Expressing the mounting frustration within the city, Terry Ebbert, the head of the city’s emergency operations, called the US government’s response to the disaster “a national disgrace.” He noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “has been here three days, yet there is no command and control.” The delay, he warned, had created an “incredibly explosive situation.”

CNN reporter Chris Lawrence reported seeing “many, many bodies” both inside and outside the convention center, where the elderly and the sick have dropped dead in the intense heat. The network broadcast images of an elderly woman dead in her wheelchair and another body wrapped in a blanket, both abandoned by the side of the building.

According to the city’s mayor, Ray Nagin, as many as 20,000 people have gathered outside the center. They include entire families as well as many mothers with infants, children and the elderly. Nagin’s office issued a statement Thursday describing the site as “unsanitary and unsafe,” adding, “we are running out of supplies for people.”

Estimates of the crowd that massed outside the Superdome Thursday ranged as high as 40,000, approximately twice the number that the authorities had organized to transport to yet another stadium, the Astrodome, a six-hour bus ride away in Houston, Texas.

The desperation of those seeking to get out of the city was evident. According to one report, after failing to get on a Houston-bound bus, a woman handed her two-month-old child over to a stranger on the vehicle, asking her to save her baby.

Conditions inside the New Orleans stadium were widely described as hell on earth in the days following the storm’s striking the city. The hurricane and subsequent flooding left the facility dark and sweltering without lights or air-conditioning. The odor from piles of rotting trash and overflowing toilets was overpowering. Food, water and other basic necessities were in short supply.

There were reports of deaths inside the crowded stadium, including the suicide of one man who hurled himself from a balcony after learning that his home had been destroyed.

Those who went into the stadium were not allowed to leave. Many complained that they were being “treated like animals” and that the facility was “worse than a prison.” Little or no information was provided to these storm refugees.

Gordon Russell of the New Orleans Times-Picayune noted pointedly that these hellish conditions “stood in stark contrast to those of people nearby in the restricted-access New Orleans Centre and Hyatt Hotel, where those who could get in lounged in relative comfort.” A line of state police armed with assault rifles drove the crowds of homeless refugees back from the entrance to the facility.

Russell continued, “A few blocks farther away, guests were being fed ‘foie gras and rack of lamb’ for dinner, according to a photographer who stayed there, while the masses, most of them poor, huddled in the Dome.”

The badly improvised character of the original decision to house people in the Superdome during the storm appears likely to be compounded by the mass migration to the stadium in Houston.

While officials have spoken in vague terms about obtaining more suitable housing, officials in Texas indicated that the Astrodome’s schedule is being cleared into December, indicating plans to use it as a long-term shelter.

Judge Robert Eckels, chief executive of Harris County, which owns the Astrodome, insisted that facility would not be “a jail.” This claim was belied, however, by reports that the New Orleans refugees would need passes to leave the facility, as well by the large number of police deployed around the stadium.

The first refugees from New Orleans to arrive at the stadium were a group composed largely of youth and children aboard a commandeered school bus. Initially, Houston officials were going to turn them away, insisting that they had agreed only to admit 23,000 people from the Superdome. They were overruled, however, by Red Cross workers, who brought the group in.

Others, however, were not so lucky. “We have nowhere to go, nowhere to sleep,” Rhonda Calderon told the Washington Post after crowding with six others into a Nissan to flee New Orleans and reach the Houston stadium, only to be turned away. “We came to Houston seeking shelter, our kids are hungry. We have no gas. What do we do?”

Among the most desperate conditions in New Orleans were those at two city hospitals that still awaited evacuation on the fourth day since the hurricane struck. The Associated Press reported that doctors from the two public facilities had called pleading for aid. They reported that they have no electrical power and have run out of food and have only a small amount of water. Charity Hospital has about 250 patients, while University Hospital has about 110.

“Most of our power is out. Much of the hospital is in the dark,” Dr. Norman McSwain, chief of trauma surgery at Charity told the AP. “The ICU [intensive care unit] is on the 12th floor, so the physicians and nurses are having to walk up floors to see the patients.”

Dr. Lee Hamm, chairman of Medicine at Tulane University said, “We’re afraid that somehow these two hospitals have been left off...that somehow somebody has either forgotten it or ignored it or something, because there is no evidence anything is being done.” Tulane, a private facility, had by Thursday nearly completed the evacuation of its 1,000 patients.

At another public facility, Touro Infirmary, staff evacuated 65 patients to the roof Wednesday in anticipation of their being picked up by helicopters. When the airlift failed to materialize, the patients spent the night there. Without power or light in the building, doctors decided it was safer than moving them back inside.

Amid reports of looting and scattered gunfire, New Orleans authorities announced that the city’s police department would be shifted from rescue operations to the defense of property. Official concerns were apparently sparked as more upscale shops and hotels came under attack. Most of the so-called “looting” has consisted of desperate people lacking food, water and dry clothing entering closed stores to get what they need. Among the most common scenes has been that of young mothers coming out with packages of diapers.

Louisiana state Attorney General Charles Foti, meanwhile, announced that his office and New Orleans officials are working to set up a “temporary detention center” for jailing people arrested for looting, the Times-Picayune reported. Until such a lockup is organized, however, those who are arrested will be transported to Fort Polk, an army base in west central Louisiana, according to state police officials quoted by the paper.

At a Thursday afternoon press conference, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the government will be sending in 1,400 additional national guard troops into the city on each of the next three days to restore “law and order.” These troops are not relief specialists, but rather military policemen. With soldiers to outnumber civilian law enforcement by a ratio of better than five-to-one, New Orleans will be under a de facto state of martial law.

Earlier in the day, appearing on NBC’s “Today” program, Chertoff arrogantly blamed the hurricane’s victims for their plight. “The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster,” he said. “Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part.”

As even the news media has increasing been compelled to acknowledge, the vast majority of those left in New Orleans did not stay there by choice. The reality is that the poverty rate in New Orleans approaches 30 percent, with tens of thousands of people too poor, too old or too sick to organize their own evacuation. And no attempt was made by the government to provide these people with the means to flee the city.

At a press conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu echoed statements made by New Orleans’s mayor, declaring, “We understand that there are thousands of dead people” in the city.

Grim accounts from those coming out of the worst-hit neighborhoods seemed to substantiate such estimates. Lucrece Phillips told the Times-Picayune of seeing the bodies of “dead babies and women, and young men and old men with tattered T-shirts or graying temples...floating along the streets of the Lower 9th Ward.” Rescued by boat from her attic along with five members of her family, Phillips said that the rescuers “had to push the bodies back with sticks.”

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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2007, 11:09:15 pm »

The Rebellion of the Talking Heads
Newscasters, sick of official lies and stonewalling, finally start snarling.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Friday, Sept. 2, 2005, at 2:36 PM PT

Anderson Cooper: no more Mr. Nice Guy

A former deputy chief of FEMA told Knight Ridder Newspapers yesterday (Sept. 1) that there "are two kinds of levees—the ones that breached and the ones that will be breached." A similar aphorism applies to broadcasters: They come in two varieties, the ones that have gone stark, raving mad on air and the ones who will.

In the last couple of days, many of the broadcasters reporting from the bowl-shaped toxic waste dump that was once the city of New Orleans have stopped playing the role of wind-swept wet men facing down a big storm to become public advocates for the poor, the displaced, the starving, the dying, and the dead.

Last night, CNN's Anderson Cooper abandoned the old persona to throttle Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in a live interview. (See the video or read the transcript.)


"Does the federal government bear responsibility for what is happening now? Should they apologize for what is happening now?" Cooper opened.

As if campaigning before the local Democratic Ladies' Club lunch, Landrieu sing-songed back, "Anderson, there will be plenty of time to discuss all of those issues, about why, and how, and what, and if." She went on to thank President Bush, President Clinton, former President Bush, Senators Frist and Reid, and "all leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi, and Alabama, "for their help.

Her condescending filibuster continued: "Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard—maybe you all have announced it—but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating."

Cooper suspended the traditional TV rules of decorum and, approaching tears of fury, said:

Excuse me, Senator, I'm sorry for interrupting. I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated.

And when they hear politicians slap—you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up.

Do you get the anger that is out here? …

I mean, I know you say there's a time and a place for, kind of, you know, looking back, but this seems to be the time and the place. I mean, there are people who want answers, and there are people who want someone to stand up and say, "You know what? We should have done more. Are all the assets being brought to bear?"

Landrieu kept her cool, probably because she's in Baton Rouge, while the stink of corpses caused Cooper to tremble in rage all the way to the commercial break.

Yesterday, on NPR's All Things Considered, Robert Siegel didn't get medieval on Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, in part because the microphones there are specially fabricated to decant all emotion from the voices of their reporters. But Siegel aggressively blocked every escape route that Chertoff took to evade hard questions about "corpses" and "human waste" piling up at the city's convention center, where thousands were stranded without provisions. (Siegel gets tough at about minute four in the audio clip.)

Siegel kept asking Chertoff how long it would take to serve or rescue these people, and a couple times Chertoff answered that the government was doing a great job at the Superdome.

When he cautioned Siegel about the danger of relying on "anecdotal" "rumors" of people in dire straits, Siegel said, no—these are facts presented by reporters who have covered war zones. There are 2,000 people at the convention center in need, he said. Having finally broken through the steel plate that is Chertoff's skull, the secretary confessed he hadn't heard those reports—reports that the television networks were documenting, live, with their cameras. Chertoff promised he'd look into the matter.

Several readers directed me to CNN reporter Miles O'Brien's hard-boiled interview with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in which he repeatedly invited the governor to agree with him that the federal government had "dropped the ball." When Barbour demurred on this and other points of culpability, O'Brien came back at him without the politesse reporters usually extend to dissembling pols.

I recall Andrea Mitchell all but editorializing on NBC the other night about Congress taking its sweet time to reconvene and pass a hurricane-relief bill … Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith chasing after a mute police officer down the New Orleans freeway overpass and asking in outrage when the stranded would get help … and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough in Biloxi transforming himself into the voice of the disenfranchised to put in a good word for the looters:

You got to understand that these are people who have young babies who haven't had water in four days, in some cases, haven't had formula, haven't had basic necessities. I just wonder what you would do, what I would do if we were in a situation where our 15-month-old child or our 2-year-old baby needed something to stay alive. I don't know what you would do. I know I would do anything it took to get what they needed.

Now, I should be getting it from the federal government if I am in New Orleans, from the state government. But I will tell you what. It is amateur hour, and it has been amateur hour over the past four or five days. This is completely different, friends, from the way the crises were handled in Florida last year, four hurricanes, two of them major, it was handled with ruthless efficiency. I know. I was there. That is not happening tonight in New Orleans.

This morning the discontent spread to the anchor booth at CNN, as Wonkette notes, when Soledad O'Brien openly mocked FEMA in an interview with its director, Michael Brown:

As you can tell, the situation clearly is deteriorating. You've got armed bandits roving the streets. They're heavily armed. You've got people living out on the streets with absolutely no protection, no help whatsoever, no food, no water. How many armed National Guardsmen do you have on the ground right now? …

How is it possible that we're getting better intel than you're getting? …

FEMA has been on the ground for four days, going into the fifth day. Why no massive airdrop of food and water? In Banda Aceh, in Indonesia, they got food dropped two days after the tsunami struck. …

It's five days that FEMA has been on the ground. The head of police says it's been five days that FEMA has been there. The mayor, the former mayor, putting out SOS's on Tuesday morning, crying on national television, saying please send in some troops. So the idea that, yes, I understand that you're feeding people and trying to get in there now, but it's Friday. It's Friday. …

CNN anchor Jack Cafferty growled about the media coverage of Katrina's victims yesterday on Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room, name-checking me and citing my Wednesday column about the broadcasters' failure to acknowledge the race and economic class of the hardest-hit.

Said Cafferty:

We knew it was coming. And yet, the poorest and the neediest and the most helpless of those in New Orleans, well, they're still there, aren't they? Despite the many angles of this tragedy—and lord knows there've been a lot of them in New Orleans—there is a great big elephant in the living room that the media seems content to ignore.

That would be until now.'s Jack Shafer wrote today in his column that television coverage has shied away from talking about race and class. Shafer says that we in the media are ignoring the fact that almost all of the victims in New Orleans are black and poor. And he's right. Almost every person we've seen, from the families stranded on their rooftops waiting to be rescued, to the looters, to the people holed up in the Superdome, are black and poor.

Many of them didn't follow the evacuation orders because they didn't have the means to get out of town. They just couldn't do it. A lot of them are sick, a lot of them don't have cars, a lot of them just didn't have the means to leave "The Big Easy." And they're still there.

This gave the Washington-based Blitzer a perfect opening to comment on race and class, but he stumbled and fell into a "Campanis moment." While airing file footage of victims trudging through hip-deep water looking for help, Blitzer, no racist, said:

You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals, as Jack Cafferty just pointed out, so tragically, so many of these people, almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold. [Emphasis added.]

(Note to Blitzer: You might be one of those guys, like Campanis, who shouldn't talk about race extemporaneously. Next time, try channeling your outrage from the pages of a well-thought-out news script.)

The rebellion of the talking heads reached its culmination today as contrasted "the official version" of events in New Orleans with its "in-the-trenches" account by its reporters and authoritative sources. Muted compared to the on-air growling, the Web story still portrays the government as a pack of liars, or worse, as bumbling idiots. The broadcasters' angry dispatches break with the "public face" they usually give their work: polite, patient, neutral, generous. A steady diet of such confrontational reporting would probably be as edifying as a Jerry Springer show. But when the going gets this tough—when government incompetence and lies become so insurmountable—sometimes the only way to get the story is by getting mad.


Get this: Rush Limbaugh called me a liberal on his show yesterday for my Wednesday column about the news broadcasters' general neglect of race and class. Said Limbaugh, "The whole purpose of this story for Mr. Shafer and these stories on these lower level websites that hopefully they think will percolate to the mainstream press is to eventually indict the American way of life, to indict the American culture, to indict the American society as inherently unfair and racist." I can't wait to impress my friends at the American Prospect by sending the transcript over. Meanwhile, call me a communist, a fascist, a neo-con, an anarcho-syndicalist, or late to dinner via e-mail: (E-mail may be quoted unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Jack Shafer is Slate's editor at large.
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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2007, 11:12:20 pm »

New Orleans: Gunfire, corpses left in the open, and a slow exodus out
Friday, September 02, 2005

By Allen G. Breed, The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans descended into anarchy as corpses lay abandoned in street medians, fights and fires broke out, cops turned in their badges and the governor declared war on looters who have made the city a menacing landscape of disorder and fear.

"They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Thursday of 300 National Guard troops who landed in New Orleans fresh from duty in Iraq. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will."

Four days after Hurricane Katrina roared in with a devastating blow that inflicted potentially thousands of deaths, the fear, anger and violence mounted Thursday.

"I'm not sure I'm going to get out of here alive," said Canadian tourist Larry Mitzel, who handed a reporter his business card in case he goes missing. "I'm scared of riots. I'm scared of the locals. We might get caught in the crossfire."

The chaos deepened despite the promise of 1,400 National Guardsmen a day to stop the looting, plans for a $10 billion (?8.07 billion) recovery bill in Congress and a government relief effort President George W. Bush called the biggest in U.S. history.

New Orleans' top emergency management official called that effort a "national disgrace" and questioned when reinforcements would actually reach the increasingly lawless city.

About 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at New Orleans convention center grew ever more hostile after waiting for buses for days amid the filth and the dead. Police Chief Eddie Compass said there was such a crush around a squad of 88 officers that they retreated when they went in to check out reports of assaults.

"We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten," Compass said. "Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon."

Col. Henry Whitehorn, chief of the Louisiana State Police, said he heard of numerous instances of New Orleans police officers -- many of whom from flooded areas -- turning in their badges.

"They indicated that they had lost everything and didn't feel that it was worth them going back to take fire from looters and losing their lives," Whitehorn said.

A military helicopter tried to land at the convention center several times to drop off food and water. But the rushing crowd forced the choppers to back off. Troopers then tossed the supplies to the crowd from 10 feet (3 meters) off the ground and flew away.

In hopes of defusing the situation at the convention center, Mayor Ray Nagin gave the refugees permission to march across a bridge to the city's unflooded west bank for whatever relief they could find. But the bedlam made that difficult.

"This is a desperate SOS," Nagin said in a statement. "Right now we are out of resources at the convention center and don't anticipate enough buses."

At least seven bodies were scattered outside the convention center, a makeshift staging area for those rescued from rooftops, attics and highways. The sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement.

An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair.

"You can do everything for other countries, but you can't do nothing for your own people," he added. "You can go overseas with the military, but you can't get them down here."

The street outside the center, above the floodwaters, smelled of urine and feces, and was choked with dirty diapers, old bottles and garbage.

"They've been teasing us with buses for four days," Edwards said. "They're telling us they're going to come get us one day, and then they don't show up."

Every so often, an armored state police vehicle cruised in front of the convention center with four or five officers in riot gear with automatic weapons. But there was no sign of help from the National Guard.

At one point the crowd began to chant "We want help! We want help!" Later, a woman, screaming, went on the front steps of the convention center and led the crowd in reciting the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd ..."

"We are out here like pure animals," the Issac Clark said.

"We've got people dying out here -- two babies have died, a woman died, a man died," said Helen Cheek. "We haven't had no food, we haven't had no water, we haven't had nothing. They just brought us here and dropped us."

Tourist Debbie Durso of Washington, Michigan, said she asked a police officer for assistance and his response was, "'Go to hell -- it's every man for himself.' "

"This is just insanity," she said. "We have no food, no water ... all these trucks and buses go by and they do nothing but wave."

FEMA director Michael Brown said the agency just learned about the situation at the convention center Thursday and quickly scrambled to provide food, water and medical care and remove the corpses.

Speaking on CNN's "Larry King Live," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the evacuation of New Orleans should be completed by the end of the weekend.

At the hot and stinking Superdome, where 30,000 were being evacuated by bus to the Houston Astrodome, fistfights and fires erupted amid a seething sea of tense, suffering people who waited in a lines that stretched a half-mile to board yellow school buses.

After a traffic jam kept buses from arriving for nearly four hours, a near-riot broke out in the scramble to get on the buses that finally did show up, with a group of refugees breaking through a line of heavily armed National Guardsmen.

One military policeman was shot in the leg as he and a man scuffled for the MP's rifle, police Capt. Ernie Demmo said. The man was arrested.

Some of those among the mostly poor crowd had been in the dome for four days without air conditioning, working toilets or a place to bathe. An ambulance service airlifting the sick and injured out of the Superdome suspended flights as too dangerous after it was reported that a bullet was fired at a military helicopter.

"If they're just taking us anywhere, just anywhere, I say praise God," said refugee John Phillip. "Nothing could be worse than what we've been through."

By Thursday evening, 11 hours after the military began evacuating the Superdome, the arena held 10,000 more people than it did at dawn. National Guard Capt. John Pollard said evacuees from around the city poured into the Superdome and swelled the crowd to about 30,000 because they believed the arena was the best place to get a ride out of town.

As he watched a line snaking for blocks through ankle-deep waters, New Orleans' emergency operations chief Terry Ebbert blamed the inadequate response on the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"This is not a FEMA operation. I haven't seen a single FEMA guy," he said. He added: "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."

FEMA officials said some operations had to be suspended in areas where gunfire has broken out, but are working overtime to feed people and restore order.

A day after Nagin took 1,500 police officers off search-and-rescue duty to try to restore order in the streets, there were continued reports of looting, shootings, gunfire and carjackings -- and not all the crimes were driven by greed.

When some hospitals try to airlift patients, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesan said, "there are people just taking potshots at police and at helicopters, telling them, 'You better come get my family.' "

Outside a looted Rite-Aid drugstore, some people were anxious to show they needed what they were taking. A gray-haired man who would not give his name pulled up his T-shirt to show a surgery scar and explained that he needs pads for incontinence.

"I'm a Christian. I feel bad going in there," he said.

Earl Baker carried toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant. "Look, I'm only getting necessities," he said. "All of this is personal hygiene. I ain't getting nothing to get drunk or high with."

Several thousand storm victims had arrived in Houston by Thursday night, and they quickly got hot meals, showers and some much-needed rest.

Audree Lee, 37, was thrilled after getting a shower and hearing her teenage daughter's voice on the telephone for the first time since the storm. Lee had relatives take her daughter to Alabama so she would be safe.

"I just cried. She cried. We cried together," Lee said. "She asked me about her dog. They wouldn't let me take her dog with me. ... I know the dog is gone now."

While floodwaters in the city appeared to stabilize, efforts continued to plug three breaches that had opened up in the levee system that protects this below-sea-level city.

Helicopters dropped sandbags into the breach and pilings were being pounded into the mouth of the canal Thursday to close its connection to Lake Pontchartrain, state Transportation Secretary Johnny Bradberry said. The next step called for using about 250 concrete road barriers to seal the gap.

In Washington, the White House said Bush will tour the devastated Gulf Coast region on Friday and has asked his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Clinton to lead a private fund-raising campaign for victims.

The president urged a crackdown on the lawlessness.

"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this -- whether it be looting, or price gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable giving or insurance fraud," Bush said. "And I've made that clear to our attorney general. The citizens ought to be working together."

Donald Dudley, a 55-year-old New Orleans seafood merchant, complained that when he and other hungry refugees broke into the kitchen of the convention center and tried to prepare food, the National Guard chased them away.

"They pulled guns and told us we had to leave that kitchen or they would blow our damn brains out," he said. "We don't want their help. Give us some vehicles and we'll get ourselves out of here!"

(Associated Press reporters Adam Nossiter, Brett Martel, Robert Tanner and Mary Foster contributed to this report.)
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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2007, 11:14:49 pm »

First Person : Death In The Streets

In an exclusive MSNBC video, photojournalist Tony Zambado tells the story of refugees abandoned at the New Orleans Convention Center ... "law abiding citizens" who "followed directions" but who have been without food or water for four days. And there is no police, no national guard.

Compare Zambado's first person account with the also here).

Do you see any official acknowledgement of the backlog of buses and supplies that Zambado saw parked outside New Orleans while law abiding citizens, who did what their government directed them to do, are dying from dehydration and hunger? I thought not. Ask the administration why not.

Excerpts from the 9+ minute video:
I thought I'd seen it all ... I've never seen anything in my life like this ...I can't put it into words ... the amount of destruction that's in this city and how these people are coping. They are just left behind. There's nothing offered to them. No Water. No Ice. No C-rations. Nothing for the last four days. They were told to go to the Convention Center. They did. They're behaving... They just want food and support. And what I saw there I've never seen in this country....

I saw two gentlemen die in front of me because of dehydration. I saw a baby near death.... Dead people around the walls of the convention center. Laying in the middle of the street. In their dying chairs. Where they died, right there in their lawn chair. They were just covered up. In their wheelchair. Covered up. Laying there for dead. Babies. Two babies. Dehydrated and died.... I couldn't take it...

... I had to go outside last night to bring in support system for our network... I counted 82 buses, sitting just outside New Orleans... And I said, "What's the problem? Why are they not letting you in?" "It's unsafe." ... Somebody was putting out bad news that it was totally unsafe. It's not unsafe to come in and help these people... These people are not looting.... they're being very orderly ... just trying to survive. They're being very orderly.
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2007, 11:15:59 pm »

"Religious Nuts OK With Hurricane Destruction" [Sep 02, 2005]

This is a press release from a fundamentalist website (crazy Christians, the bad ones). No, I do not lump all Christians into this group. Most are great people. But why don't we hear more of them speaking out against these kinds of statements and claims? Because they secretly believe them or because they fear speaking out in a system which does not tolerate informed dissent very well?

Here are excerpts from the press release...

"Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city," stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. "From 'Girls Gone Wild' to 'Southern Decadence,' New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. May it never be the same," he continued.

"We must help and pray for those ravaged by this disaster, but let us not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long," Marcavage said. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God," Marcavage concluded.

"[God] sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2007, 11:38:58 pm »

Hurricane that wrecked Galveston was deadliest in U.S. history

September 8, 2000
Web posted at: 10:06 a.m. EDT (1406 GMT)

The hurricane unleashed 150-mph winds, a torrent of rain and a nearly 16-foot tidal wave that destroyed entire sections of the city

In this story:

A city with hubris

'Isaac's Storm'

Entire island under water

Ghoulish sights

Raising Galveston



GALVESTON, Texas (CNN) -- The deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history ripped into the "Jewel of Texas" one century ago, killing some 8,000 men, women and children and wiping away 12 city blocks -- nearly three-quarters of the island city of Galveston, Texas.

The Category 4 hurricane struck September 8, 1900.

Linda MacDonald, whose late grandfather lived through the Great Storm, remembers the stories he told of how, as a six-year-old boy, he rode out the tempest in his father's bakery as winds howled and waves crashed.

"He could hear children calling for their mothers, women screaming for help and men begging for mercy from God," said MacDonald, a Galveston native and an amateur expert on the storm.

"He said he could hear sounds that were very faint, then they grew louder and louder, then the sound abruptly cut off, and he knew someone's life had ended."

The killer storm did not come without warning.

Days before the hurricane reached Texas, telegraph reports received in Galveston told of the havoc the storm caused in the Caribbean. Sailors arrived in port talking of the stormy seas.

A city with hubris

"People in Galveston knew that there was a storm in the Gulf of Mexico. It was reported in the Galveston County Daily News but they didn't know where the storm would make landfall," said historian Casey Greene.

Some historians say people's attitude increased the number of fatalities.

"That's one of the reasons so many people lost their lives: complacency," said Greene.

In 1900, Galveston was stuck on itself, boasting Texas' first post office, telephones and medical college. There was more money in Galveston than in Newport, Rhode Island.

Downtown was packed with ornate office buildings, many on The Strand, known then as the "Wall Street of the Southwest." Galveston was the hub of a booming cotton export trade because it had the only deep-water port in Texas at the time.

City streets led to imposing Greek Revival, Romanesque and Italianate mansions. Street cars ran along the beach. Bathhouses jutted out like sentinels in the gulf.

"There was this great sense of hubris that America and Galveston -- Galveston in particular --was going places, could do no wrong," said Erik Larson, author of "Isaac's Storm."

One in six Galveston residents died

'Isaac's Storm'

Isaac was U.S. Weather Bureau climatologist Isaac Cline, who dismissed as absurd the notion that a hurricane could devastate Galveston. His stance discouraged the town from building a sea wall.

The day before the hurricane arrived, warning flags were raised as huge waves pounded the shores, barometric pressure dropped rapidly and high fish-scale-shaped clouds moved inland.

Before dawn September 8, the water crept ashore and kept rising, despite strengthening north winds that should have repelled the storm.

By now, Cline was worried. "Unusually heavy swells from the southeast. ... Such high water with opposing winds never observed previously," he wrote in a telegram to the bureau's headquarters in Washington.

But less than half the population evacuated the island and some sightseers even came over from Houston to view the spectacle of the huge and powerful surf.

Cline rode down the beach in a horse-drawn buggy, warning people to get to the mainland. But for most, it was too late. A steamship broke free of its moorings and destroyed three bridges to the mainland.

As people fled to higher ground, waves raged inward from both the gulf and the bay. Homes disintegrated and rushing waters swept people away.

Cline's aides measured speeds of 100 mph before their anemometer was blown away, and the wind would eventually peak at 150 mph.

Of the 93 orphans and 10 nuns at St. Mary's Orphanage in Galveston, three boys survived the storm

Entire island under water

"The roofs of the houses and timbers were flying through the streets as though they were paper and it appeared suicidal to attempt a journey through the flying timbers," Cline wrote later that month in a report to his superiors.

St. Mary's Orphanage, home to 93 children and 10 Catholic nuns, stood near the beach and was one of the first buildings to succumb to the storm. The only survivors were three boys who managed to cling to an uprooted tree as it was tossed around by the rising waters.

Water continued to rise until the whole island was submerged by 3 p.m. and by midnight waves 15 high tore buildings apart with contemptuous ease. Cline's own home, battered by the waves and heavy debris, eventually collapsed.

"My residence went down with about 50 persons who had sought it out for safety and all but 18 were hurled into eternity. Among the lost was my wife who never rose above the water after the wreck of the building," Cline wrote in his report.

Almost a month would pass before Cora May Cline's body was found among the mounds of debris that littered the city.

Cline himself nearly drowned but recovered and found himself clinging to his youngest child. His brother Joseph had grabbed Cline's other two children and they managed to keep afloat for three hours on wreckage until the worst of the storm had passed.

Rich and poor alike huddled together in ornate mansions such as "Bishop's Palace." Still standing today, its strong walls saved the lives of some 200 people.

The Doolin family is credited with rescuing 200 people from the debris-filled water

Ghoulish sights

Others had desperately clung to life.

"Some of them were on rooftops. some of them were in trees, some of them were hanging on to logs and stuff in the water," Maybelle Doolin remembers from her family's history.

Doolin's father and his three step brothers spent hours in a row boat pulling people from the debris filled water; they are credited with saving 200 lives.

Historians don't know exactly how many people perished, but they believe it could have been as many as 10,000. Nearly everyone lost family and friends.

After the storm's fury had passed and the water receded, survivors stared in disbelief at human and animal corpses strewn among piles of smashed timber and masonry.

There were too many dead to bury, so the remains were initially weighted down and dropped into the Gulf of Mexico. But the bodies floated back to shore and were eventually burned in funeral pyres.

"If you can imagine walking out your back door -- and where you ordinarily see somebody's yard, kids playing and houses and the streets and all that stuff -- what you would most likely have seen is a pile in which your neighbors where at that very moment being incinerated," said Erick Larson.

Human remains were found as late as February of 1901.

Raising Galveston

Months after the hurricane, Galveston started construction on a 17-foot-high, 3-mile-long sea wall. Phase one of the project cost $1.6 million dollars, an astronomical amount at the time.

Civil engineers also raised Galveston's elevation, the highest point of which before the storm was less than nine feet above sea level. Thousands of homes and buildings were propped up so earth could be filled in underneath, a method that raised some structures as high as 17 feet.

Galveston is a city built on sand at the eastern end of a 30-mile-long island, two miles off the Texas coast. It remains vulnerable today despite the sea wall.

Constant vigilance is maintained during the June-November hurricane season because it would take more than 40 hours to evacuate the 65,000 people to the mainland.

Anyone who failed to heed a call to evacuate would be at the storm's mercy because the causeway to the mainland is closed when winds reach tropical storm strength of 39 mph.

"We have a name for people like that. We call them statistics. There's nothing that important to risk your life for," said city emergency management chief William Zagorski.

While Galveston succeeded in rebuilding after the storm, it would never regain its former prominence as one of the wealthiest communities in the nation. As a major Texas city, it was soon overshadowed by the emergence of nearby Houston as a center for the Texas oil industry and as a major port following the completion in 1914 of a ship channel that linked it directly to the Gulf of Mexico.

CNN Miami Bureau ChiefJohn Zarrella, CNN Correspondent Eric Horng, TheAssociated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2007, 11:40:36 pm »

FEMA Chief Sent Help Only When Storm Ended
By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer
16 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The government's disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security workers to support rescuers in the region — and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents.

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims.

Before then, FEMA had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged Tuesday the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged.

Brown's memo to Chertoff described Katrina as "this near catastrophic event" but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, "Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities."

The initial responses of the government and Brown came under escalating criticism as the breadth of destruction and death grew. President Bush and Congress on Tuesday pledged separate investigations into the federal response to Katrina. "Governments at all levels failed," said Sen. Susan Collins (news, bio, voting record), R-Maine.

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said Brown had positioned front-line rescue teams and Coast Guard helicopters before the storm. Brown's memo on Aug. 29 aimed to assemble the necessary federal work force to support the rescues, establish communications and coordinate with victims and community groups, Knocke said.

Instead of rescuing people or recovering bodies, these employees would focus on helping victims find the help they needed, he said.

"There will be plenty of time to assess what worked and what didn't work," Knocke said. "Clearly there will be time for blame to be assigned and to learn from some of the successful efforts."

Brown's memo told employees that among their duties, they would be expected to "convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public."

"FEMA response and recovery operations are a top priority of the department and as we know, one of yours," Brown wrote Chertoff. He proposed sending 1,000 Homeland Security Department employees within 48 hours and 2,000 within seven days.

Knocke said the 48-hour period suggested for the Homeland employees was to ensure they had adequate training. "They were training to help the life-savers," Knocke said.

Employees required a supervisor's approval and at least 24 hours of disaster training in Maryland, Florida or Georgia. "You must be physically able to work in a disaster area without refrigeration for medications and have the ability to work in the outdoors all day," Brown wrote.

The same day Brown wrote Chertoff, Brown also urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments. Brown said it was vital to coordinate fire and rescue efforts.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (news, bio, voting record), D-Md., said Tuesday that Brown should step down.

After a senators-only briefing by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and other Cabinet members, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (news, bio, voting record) said lawmakers weren't getting their questions answered.

"What people up there want to know, Democrats and Republicans, is what is the challenge ahead, how are you handling that and what did you do wrong in the past," said Schumer, D-N.Y.

Sen. Ted Stevens (news, bio, voting record), R-Alaska, said the administration is "getting a bad rap" for the emergency response. "People have to understand this is a big, big problem."

Meanwhile, the airline industry said the government's request for help evacuating storm victims didn't come until late Thursday afternoon. The president of the Air Transport Association, James May, said the Homeland Security Department called then to ask if the group could participate in an airlift for refugees.
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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2007, 11:41:40 pm »

Spokesman not concerned about threat to Bush
Says president focused on helping, not 'punch' comment from senator

Posted: September 6, 2005
5:20 p.m. Eastern

By Les Kinsolving
© 2005

Responding to a question about Sen. Mary Landrieu's threat to "punch" President Bush if he criticized local response efforts to Hurricane Katrina, White House spokesman Scott McClellan today brushed aside talk of any repercussions.

Landrieu announced on ABC's "This Week" Sunday: "I might likely have to punch [Bush], literally."

Asked WND: "Since both punching and threatening to punch the president is a felony, might Landrieu's qualifying words likely saved her from arrest and prosecution? And what was the president's reaction?"

Responded McClellan: "A couple of things. One, we know that this is a very difficult and trying time for a lot of people. That's why I just said that the president is focused on continuing to bring people together to get things done.

"He had a very good visit with members of the Louisiana delegation last week and this week, as well. And he's continuing to stay in contact with those officials as we work together to help people."

The relatively calm exchange occurred after reporters from ABC and NBC shouted questions to McClellan about who was to blame for slow recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast states.
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« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2007, 11:43:28 pm »

Explosive Residue Found On Failed Levee Debris

Hal Turner Show
September 9, 2005

New Orleans, LA -- Divers inspecting the ruptured levee walls surrounding New Orleans found something that piqued their interest: Burn marks on underwater debris chunks from the broken levee wall! One diver, a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saw the burn marks and knew immediately what caused them. He secreted a small chunk of the cement inside his diving suit and later arranged for it to be sent to trusted military friends at a The U.S. Army Forensic Laboratory at Fort Gillem, Georgia for testing. According to well placed sources, a military forensic specialist determined the burn marks on the cement chunks did, in fact, come from high explosives. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity said "We found traces of boron-enhanced fluoronitramino explosives as well as PBXN-111. This would indicate at least two separate types of explosive devices." The levee ruptures in New Orleans did not take place during Hurricane Katrina, but rather a day after the hurricane struck. Several residents of New Orleans and many Emergency Workers reported hearing what sounded like large, muffled explosions from the area of the levee, but those were initially discounted as gas explosions from homes with leaking gas lines.
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