Skip to comments.Unrest Intensifies at Superdome Shelter
Posted on 09/01/2005 10:37:44 AM PDT by NotchJohnson
Unrest Intensifies at Superdome Shelter Sep 01 12:56 PM US/Eastern
By ADAM NOSSITER Associated Press Writer
Fights and trash fires broke out at the hot and stinking Superdome and anger and unrest mounted across New Orleans on Thursday, as National Guardsmen in armored vehicles poured in to help restore order across the increasingly lawless and desperate city.
"We are out here like pure animals. We don't have help," the Rev. Issac Clark, 68, said outside the New Orleans Convention Center, where corpses lay in the open and evacuees complained that they were dropped off and given nothing.
An additional 10,000 National Guard troops from across the country were ordered into the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast to shore up security, rescue and relief operations in Katrina's wake as looting, shootings, gunfire, carjackings and other lawlessness spread.
That brought the number of troops dedicated to the effort to more than 28,000, in what may be the biggest military response to a natural disaster in U.S. history.
"The truth is, a terrible tragedy like this brings out the best in most people, brings out the worst in some people," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on NBC's "Today" show. "We're trying to deal with looters as ruthlessly as we can get our hands on them."
The Superdome, where some 25,000 people were being evacuated by bus to the Houston Astrodome, descended into chaos.
Huge crowds, hoping to finally escape the stifling confines of the stadium, jammed the main concourse outside the dome, spilling out over the ramp to the Hyatt hotel next door _ a seething sea of tense, unhappy, people packed shoulder-to-shoulder up to the barricades where heavily armed National Guardsmen stood.
Fights broke out. A fire erupted in a trash chute inside the dome, but a National Guard commander said it did not affect the evacuation.
Outside the Convention Center, the sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement. Thousands of storm refugees had been assembling outside for days, waiting for buses that did not come.
At least seven bodies were scattered outside, and hungry, desperate people who were tired of waiting broke through the steel doors to a food service entrance and began pushing out pallets of water and juice and whatever else they could find.
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. "I buried my dog." He added: "You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here."
Just above the convention center on Interstate 10, commercial buses were lined up, going nowhere. 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.
People chanted, "Help, help!" as reporters and photographers walked through. The crowd got angry when journalists tried to photograph one of the bodies, and covered it over with a blanket. A woman, screaming, went on the front steps of the convention center and led the crowd in reciting the 23rd Psalm.
John Murray, 52, said: "It's like they're punishing us."
The first of hundreds of busloads of people evacuated from the Superdome arrived early Thursday at their new temporary home _ another sports arena, the Houston Astrodome, 350 miles away.
But the ambulance service in charge of taking the sick and injured from the Superdome suspended flights after a shot was reported fired at a military helicopter. Richard Zuschlag, chief of Acadian Ambulance, said it had become too dangerous for his pilots.
The military, which was overseeing the removal of the able-bodied by buses, continued the ground evacuation without interruption, said National Guard Lt. Col. Pete Schneider. The government had no immediate confirmation of whether a military helicopter was fired on.
In Texas, the governor's office said Texas has agreed to take in an additional 25,000 refugees from Katrina and plans to house them in San Antonio, though exactly where has not been determined.
In Washington, the White House said President 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."
On Wednesday, Mayor Ray Nagin offered the most startling estimate yet of the magnitude of the disaster: Asked how many people died in New Orleans, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands." The death toll has already reached at least 110 in Mississippi.
If the estimate proves correct, it would make Katrina the worst natural disaster in the United States since at least the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, which was blamed for anywhere from about 500 to 6,000 deaths. Katrina would also be the nation's deadliest hurricane since 1900, when a storm in Galveston, Texas, killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people.
Nagin called for a total evacuation of New Orleans, saying the city had become uninhabitable for the 50,000 to 100,000 who remained behind after the city of nearly a half-million people was ordered cleared out over the weekend, before Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast with 145-mph winds.
The mayor said that it will be two or three months before the city is functioning again and that people would not be allowed back into their homes for at least a month or two.
"We need an effort of 9-11 proportions," former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, now president of the Urban League, said on NBC's "Today" show. "So many of the people who did not evacuate, could not evacuate for whatever reason. They are people who are African-American mostly but not completely, and people who were of little or limited economic means. They are the folks, we've got to get them out of there."
"A great American city is fighting for its life," he added. "We must rebuild New Orleans, the city that gave us jazz, and music, and multiculturalism."
With New Orleans sinking deeper into desperation, Nagin ordered virtually the entire police force to abandon search-and-rescue efforts Wednesday and stop the increasingly brazen thieves.
"They are starting to get closer to heavily populated areas _ hotels, hospitals, and we're going to stop it right now," Nagin said.
In a sign of growing lawlessness, Tenet HealthCare Corp. asked authorities late Wednesday to help evacuate a fully functioning hospital in Gretna after a supply truck carrying food, water and medical supplies was held up at gunpoint.
The floodwaters streamed into the city's streets from two levee breaks near Lake Pontchartrain a day after New Orleans thought it had escaped catastrophic damage from Katrina. The floodwaters covered 80 percent of the city, in some areas 20 feet deep, in a reddish-brown soup of sewage, gasoline and garbage.
The Army Corps of Engineers said it planned to use heavy-duty Chinook helicopters to drop 15,000-pound bags of sand and stone into a 500- foot gap in the failed floodwall.
But the agency said it was having trouble getting the sandbags and dozens of 15-foot highway barriers to the site because the city's waterways were blocked by loose barges, boats and large debris.
Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu toured the stricken areas said said rescued people begged him to pass information to their families. His pocket was full of scraps of paper on which he had scribbled down their phone numbers.
When he got a working phone in the early morning hours Thursday, he contacted a woman whose father had been rescued and told her: "Your daddy's alive, and he said to tell you he loves you."
"She just started crying. She said, `I thought he was dead,'" he said.
Enjoy it, liberals. Hope you're proud.
Gee, maybe they should get all the nuses lined up, first, eh?
Imagine the scene if they showed up with four buses and announced first come-first serve.
Remember: Never, EVER, let the government heard you into any kind of enclosed encampment of facility. You are better off on your own.
Why didn't Dan Rather do a report on New Orleans's precarious position in these recent years of increased hurricane activity?
The levee system that has been built along the river, coupled with the canal system to keep the interior of the city dry, prevent the land from being replenished by the annual spring floods. As a result, the land will continue to sink until eventually there will be nothing to stop the waters of the Gulf to rush back upon the fragile land.You can't fool Mother Nature
Then shut up and bury this lady, assuming that her family wants her buried in the median alongside the highway.
Would it be possible to walk/wad/swim to some kind of dry land? A big task yes, but is it possible?
"You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here."
.....what an ungrateful Ba$tard!
"He's right. Our priorities have been wrong in this country. We need to cut back on all foreign aid (I say eliminate it entirely), get rid of the UN and stop the war in Iraq. The hell with the Iraqis. I'm quite sure they would not help us if the situation were reversed."
Better get your asbestos undies on.
#2 Yup ... ... ... .
I can barely watch the coverage anymore after seeing that MSNBC coverage from the convention center...
1000's of people waiting on help that hasn't come. They went to the shelter like they were told... and no one is there no food, no water, no authorities.
Babies are dying.
They are laying the bodies against the walls.
God help them all.
Rush is all over this right now.
You were told that the was cat 4 hurricane barreling down on the city and all the emergency systems would fail. Everyone must evacuate. (I heard the Mayor say this) So take your bitching somewhere else.
How come the buses aren't moving and food and water aren't being distributed?