a friend of mine is making plans to go rescue his friend in new orleans who called by celphone, trapped in the attic of his house downtown. he has arranged a fishing boat and a zodiac in texas to get into the city. i have been debating whether to go.
spending the last few hours evaluating the risk of going there, listening in on louisiana national guard and NOPD radio traffic, and reading an irc channel coming out of downtown new orleans, i am struck by an emergency response that is…completely disorganized, undermanned, and out of control. it really appears as if the federal government does not care about its own people. or at least, not poor people in the south. here it is thursday. this happened on monday. there are 4,700 national guardsmen there and 30,000 “scheduled to arrive by sunday”. the navy medical ship “comfort” left baltimore today and should be there in a week. the efforts of police and national guard have been reassigned to protecting property rather than saving lives as the main priority.
the reaction to the flooding of new orleans is fast becoming the biggest disaster of all.
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.
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 â€šÃ„Ã® 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, Mich., said she asked a police officer for assistance and his response was, “‘Go to hell â€šÃ„Ã® it’s every man for himself.’”
go to hell. maybe that explains washington’s slow response? i have read on an evangelical site (i’m not linking to them) that katrina was god’s deserved punishment for a wicked city that encourages drunkeness, homosexuality, and the topless “girls gone wild” behavior of mardi gras (and yes they specifically cited the girls gone wild). somehow, i wouldn’t put that kind of thinking past this white house.