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.
Oh puhleese...you have a PhD!!.....hmm..maybe you are lying about that PhD...or you really should go get your money back...
That has to be one of the most il-informed comments I have ever read. Try reading what our founders wrote themselves about their reasons for the way they set up this country and about their fears if we lost our Christianity and the effect they foresaw it would have on our freedoms. Historically we have acted like a Christian nation over and over and over again, but now that we are loosing our Christian roots things are changing.
I would like to donate some money to the Hurricane victims. Does anyone know of a good charity to give to? I want to give to an organization whose director isn't driving a Porsche and working behind an OAK desk. I want my money to go to the people.
Keep dreaming...no country will EVER be prepared for large scale emergencies....
No, I don't always yell.. in fact I rarely yell... HOWEVER in this situation, YELLING is more than justified.
It does not take 4 days to coordinate getting WATER to survivors that went where YOU TOOK THEM, AND TOLD THEM TO GO! Its one thing if you can't get to them, but the Convention center is clearly accessible!!!
It doesn't take 4 days to get enough personelle to secure a perimeter around the Superdome and Convention Center!... And in fact, its been about 7 days since there were several days warning BEFORE the storm hit that it was going to be a doozy!
People are going to die in these types of events, no matter what... however the complete INCOMPETENCE of the NO Mayor and LA Governor has lead to far far more deaths that mother nature alone would have caused! They did not take this threat seriously, did NOT have contingency plans and planning in place before hand, and have been completely innept post fact doing the most basic of things!
I do not remotely underestimate the herculean task that needs to be done, but securing beacheads and getting basic neccessities does not take 4-5 days of planning! Airlifting/trucking in troops to secure the 2 sites and then getting trucks of water to them one way or another is an operation that should be able to be started in a FEW HOURS... yet 4 DAYS AFTER THE FACT STILL NOTHING!!
Corrupt governments, incompetent leaders... Army Corps of engineers has a plan of action to repair the levies in HOURS... The state and city have NOTHING after 4 days.
I will NEVER EVER EVER live in a state with a female Governor... she has shown absolutely NO leadership throughout any of this, and the mayor of NO is even worse than her.
There is no doubt, ordering shoot to kill is a serious decision, but allowing a situation like this to further decend into chaos for 4 days, because you don't have the mental capacity, or testicular fortitude to make the call is no excuse for not making the decision.
You lose order, and the death toll is ALWAYS higher in the end! The decision should have been made day 1, when it was clear that the looting was not just folks trying to survive doing it. They didn't take a stand now, and because of that, it is going to be 10 times worse now.
So you're saying you like to play games over something as serious as Katrina??...dude...you're sick...
Well then all I can say is that I suggest when all of this is over you move to NO and run for mayor.
If they are your family...why didn't you go get them?
It's all a cycle. They were poor. Their parents were poor. It is tough to get out and teh govt doesn't help.
So what is the rationalle behind shooting the people to help you? The only explanation would be that they like how things are (crime is everywhere) and they want to keep the gravy train going.
They don't want to offend their core constituency of voters. No Looters Left Behind!.
No...the prez controls the guard....the prez ordered the guard units into Iraq...not the guvs...the prez will not step on a guvs toes in a natural disaster unless he has to..
Ok...just to be in your mindset...if something bigger had happened after 9-11...you would have been asking why DIDN'T we have a Dept of Homeland Security???....how can you prepare for something that you don't know is going to happen??...people live in their own little worlds...'til that day comes crashing down...then it's woe is me..hep me hep me...
Yeah, I know. Herbert Spencer had some to say about that. Takes about four generations to get free of it. It's possible in two generations in America if everything goes right. Everything isn't going right in a lot of metropolitan areas and the problem won't go away by itself. I think we can do a lot better than what the Dem machines in those areas have been doing without buying into their philosophy.
It's understandable. There's quite a history there, and in their place I probably wouldn't budge either.