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.
Well if the thugs would stop shooting at helicopters and doctors things would most assuredly move more quickly. I am getting the feeling that some few bandits within that city are actually hoping to keep out rescue and rebuilding crews and create their own little 'thunderdome' of lawlessness and savagery.
Using the excuse of some armed people, crime and a few gunshots to stop rescue operations is silly ...you're right there. Lack of leadership is doing more damage than anything else, now.
OK...enough of this BS...you want to see what the ARMY, NG, and LE can do??..lose the cameras...problem solved...
This seems to be the lesson of Katrina.
Seriously, the dems are trying to blame Bush on this but it is not sticking. It is OBVIOUS the cooruption in LA and NO has caused untold suffering.
Miss and AL were also hit. They also have the same level of tragedy but not this type of animal behavior!
This is not about the President... and attempts to make it such are rediculous... though obviously people will.
Here's the deal, YES NO is in chaos, but they are getting busses in and out, they are evacuating people.. yet people at places they told them to go to, and even helped get them there, have been left alone without food or water for 4 days!!! That's not Bush's fault...
What you have is a horrendous natural disaster occurring in a place where the local and state governments are so abhorrently CORRUPT that the INCOMPETENCE IS TOTALLY COMPLETE.
While NO Water system is down, there is certainly potable drinking water being produced within transportable distance of the city.... They can bus folks to Houston, but CAN'T GET WATER TO THE CONVENTION CENTER? ITS JUST PURE INCOMPETENCE!!!
Not at the national level, but at the LOCAL LEVEL!
LA GOVERNOR IS INCOMPETENT, the NO MAYOR IS INCOMPETENT!!!... THEY SHOULD BE JAILED IMMEDIATELY AND THE THE ENTIRE STATE BE TAKEN OVER BY THE FED until this has subsided, and criminal charges can be brought against all those responsible and a new state government founded.
If Giuliani ever got the GOP nomination, he'd do so poorly in the general election that he'd make Bob Dole look like a real champ.
Look at the contigency plans in Houston that had the Astrodome ready in 48 hours to take in these people. The corrupt Democratic politicians in Nola had not done any of the preparedness or contigency planning that is done along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Respectfully, I don't agree with that. He's America's Mayor, and you're underestimating the sheer hatred a goodly proportion of Americans have for the Witch Queen.
AGAIN, THE FACT THESE FOLKS AREN"T BEING SHOT ON SIGHT IS JUST FURTHER EVIDENCE OF THE INCOMPETENCE OF THE MAYOR AND THE GOVERNOR!
You declare martial law, you order looters and others than opose your attempt to maintain order SHOT ON SIGHT.. you give that authorization! NO/LA did not do that... and to this day STILL HAVE NOT DONE THIS! HELL WE HAVE THE COPS ON TAPE JOINING IN ON THE LOOTING!
THE LOCAL AND STATE HANDLING OF THIS SITUATION HAS BEEN BEYOND CHILDISH and INCOMPETENT... its down right CRIMINAL.
I agree. Then again, we don't live in a wood house construction or in an area where wood chip glue boards are used in roofing.
The lesson here is NEVER go to a mass shelter. Evacuate if you must but go someplace on your own. (and stay armed)
If the primary consideration in 2008 is going to be the "sheer hatred that a goodly proportion of Americans have for the Witch Queen," then why even nominate Giuliani at all when some plain old guy with a WASP name and a southern drawl would do just fine?
As I said above--Guiliani is colorful. The race would be interesting. The media would tie themselves in knots making excuses. It would be like the Clinton days all over again.
The last was a boring non-race. Did anyone really think the Electoral College was going to let Frankenstein and Igor win?
and if the civilians are prosecuted for looting, Jessie jackson will be there screaming racism.
GWBush declared disaster area before the storm hit.
GWBush has responded to release the oil reserves.
GWBush has mobilized the military and positioned them before the storm hit.
The Mayor of NO has only sanctioned looting.
The Mayor of NO has only fed the panic of the people.
The Mayor of NO has not THOUGHT to get boats out and food out.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE DYING IN THE ATTICS? HOW MANY ARE STARVING IN THEIR HOMES?
While there is a tiger at the gates the Gov of LA is making sacrifices at the temple.
YET the MSM blames Bush.
You should stop acting like you're smart...cause you sure don't seem to be...true Conservatives are PRAYING that Hillary runs in '08....the gas price war is forcing the people to make a decision...now you have to ask yourself..what is that decision??...and here is a clue..it has nothing to do with politics.....
Another idiot newbie chimes in.
I have to agree....wanna get drunk and listen to music...just do it at home...much cheaper...why go all the way to NO...'esp if you're over the age of 30...
Do you always yell?
There is a 3 star general who is now in charge of military relief coordination in the region. The NG will soon move in with job of securing a departure zone. They will move that ring out, by force if needed, eventually.
Despite the fact that people are dying it is a worrisome and grave decision to give the NG the authority to used deadly force against the citizenry. I'm not saying it isn't justified, but I am saying that it should not be a snap decision, and it is a decision to be taken with the utmost caution.
Before such order can be given I believe they need to have sufficient troops on site to back up the security teams. What is needed is overwhelming force to create a secure perimeter. The troops are on their way.
While it is quite clear that some (many?) problems have arisen in the handling of this situation, it is also true that the devastation unleashed by Katrina is of such magnitude that there was and is no way to adequately prepare for such an event. Screaming at me about the incompetence of the mayor & governor is doing nothing to save lives or improve the lives of those who have escaped. My advice: Save it for later. There will be a time for reckoning, but that time is not now.
Does anyone know what countrys have offered to help the city of New Orleans and other areas hit by the storm?
" Bush has every right to call out the guard...only difference between the NG and AD is the guard guys swear an oath to the guv and not just the prez..."
The media hears the word " National " and they assume that President Bush directs the Louisiana National Guard .
I wonder if Governor Blanco realizes that she controls the Louisiana NG and not President Bush.
Every time I see her on tv she looks bewildered and helpless and acts like she is waiting for President Bush to take control.
Anyone know the command structure of the other state guard units coming in to help ?
I hope Gov Blanco is completely excised from that chain of command.