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Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans Articles

I think as these people get out they are going to have some pretty harsh things to say. The Boston Herald has an excellent article about the Superdome evacuation. Among other things, people from the Hyatt (with their luggage!) were brought to the head of the bus line yesterday:
Mayor Ray Nagin has used the hotel as a base since it is across the street from city hall, and there were reports the hotel was cleared with priority to make room for police, firefighters and other officials.

National Guard Capt. John Pollard called the decision to move the Hyatt people to the head of the line ``very poor.''
Don't blame the police for what is going on New Orleans. Just don't. I can't even tell how many people are outside the dome trying to get to the buses:
The conditions in the dome stayed miserable even as the crowds shrank after buses ferried thousands to Houston a day earlier. While the evacuation resumed Friday, the press of people on the bridge outside the arena was just as great as before.
Capt. Andrew Lindgren with the Air National Guard said 8,000 to 10,000 people remained in the Superdome. Most of them were jammed on the ramps leading out.
I think as news spreads that there is a way out of New Orleans more people are heading there. The people on the ramps were supposedly exposed to 125 degree heat. After you read about the conditions within the dome you will understand why they were doing this.

The Baltimore Sun reports stories of evacuees. Some of them stole vehicles to get out:
Wayne LeBlanc stole a car to get here. He and his two sisters and their children had made it to the New Orleans convention center by Wednesday, swimming part of the way and traveling part by police boat, but there was no refuge there.

Instead they found fighting, shooting and people dying inside the building, they said. There was no food, no water, no medical care.

"You had to get out," said his sister, Ariane LeBlanc. "Everybody was doing it. Everybody was stealing cars."
Last night Reuters AlertNet posted an article with the stories of more escaped refugees. These people deserve to be heard:
The food was "slop." Officials threw bottles of water for people to catch, he said. He recalled sick, elderly people being ignored and said he saw a 14-year-old girl being raped.

The 40-year-old trash collector said he planned to seek work in Houston and was never going back to New Orleans where he had spent his entire life.

"They didn't treat me right in there. They didn't treat nobody right," he said."
Henry Mackels from Chalmette, Louisiana, just outside New Orleans, stayed with his wife and son and several hundred others at the local high school as Katrina blasted the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday with 140-mph (225-kph) winds and a 30-foot (9-metre) storm surge that may have killed thousands.

Officials at the shelter "totally let us down," he told reporters at the Astrodome.

The floors were covered in dog and cat waste and there was nothing to eat or drink, he said, adding, "We were left to starve."

Mackels said he and other men had to find boats on dry ground and loot grocery and convenience stores to get food and drink to the hundreds in the high school.

"There were people passing out left and right. We had to (loot). I had no choice," he said.

His wife, Veronica, added that guards at the shelter "sat there and waited for us to die."
No wonder armed guards had to be brought in to keep people from mobbing the buses. Is the city government of New Orleans all about protecting property and the interests of wealthy citizens? Their disaster plan seems to have been more of a "anti-looting" plan, because they don't seem to have done the basics to preserve human life.

It sounds like they were treating everyone as criminals before they turned into a mob, and that only criminal activity was sane in this insane situation. If I were on a jury I wouldn't convict anyone for taking a car, food, medicine or water in these circumstances. If there had been basic emergency supplies for three days the situation in New Orleans would not have gotten so desperate.

Hey, Maxed Out! New Orleans has the most corrupt police department in the country and the second most corrupt government. Criminals don't plan for evacuations. Criminals don't plan for disasters. Criminals steal all the money they can. That's why they are called criminals. There is only ONE person responsible for all of that stuff: the Mayor. I have a batch of posts up with supporting data if you all want to take a look.
Look. One thing that I think is really getting muddied in these types of discussions is this concept of looting.
Actual looting did take place...but look at the word, 'loot', it means gathering up illgotten gain for oneself, not survival of people.

The people rewarding themselves with TV's, jewellry and whatever, those were looters.

The guys who took food and supplies for those who were marooned in dire circumstance, they commandeered (to seize for oneself or as one's right) supplies for the survival of the citizenry. There is a difference and it is neither semantical nor insignificant.

There are fine points in the many survivors stories, but if you took a car sitting in a lot,drove it somewhere, dropped it off with license plate intact, no damage other than being in a different place or using the gas... would the owner be right to demand that someone risk dying rather than doing that?

There is going to have to be a lot f leeway given, because the powers that be didn't come through on their part to provide an orderly evacuation.
Ilona - you are right. A lot of people were scavenging rather than looting.

Howard - I will be reading.
Oh - and now Mayor Nagin claims that the CIA might be trying to kill him. He said it once to an AP reporter and once on CNN.
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