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Katrina News: The View from the Ground

Hurricane Katrina Top News 2005 New Orleans Government failure Aftermath

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#1 QueenTiye


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Posted 01 September 2005 - 01:42 PM

I've been disturbed by the focus on the lawlessness, mostly because I survived a couple of chaotic circumstances, including 9/11, and remember what it was like to be frantic, out of touch with family, uncertain about... anything... I remember when the big blackout happened after 9/11 and I was separated from my son - how frantic I was and how crazed I was - and I remember how I really didn't care much about anything but getting to wherever my child was... fortunately it was JUST a blackout and nothing nearly as catastrophic as Katrina... even 9/11 pales by comparison - outside the horrific fact of 9/11 being a manmade catastrophe - it was local - and one could get AWAY from it... I can't imagine how utterly outside of themselves people must be.  Anyway, an odd thought crossed my mind - I remembered the DS9 story about the Bell Riots... and I remember how different things were from the perspective of those on the ground and those trying to restore order.  I can't condone lawlessness.  But I am increasingly worried about the number of bizarre acts that we are watching (including people shooting at rescue workers) and I'm worried that we are missing the view from the ground.  For the record - if the National Guardsmen shoot upon people or take up riot gear to be able to control things sufficiently to allow the rescue operation - I will certainly understand.  But for now, I'm simply going to post things that might help show the view from the ground.




People who fled the hurricane in a mass evacuation on Sunday were stuffed, sometimes many to a room in hotels, roadside motels and homes of relatives in southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

But thousands of people appeared to still be trapped by floodwaters, according to officials, with reports circulating of rotting bodies being left for days in steaming hot summer weather.

Not a room was to be found within a 250-mile (400-kilometre) radius of New Orleans, and many of those already in hastily booked accommodation found money fast running out.

"The majority of hotels have been cooperative," said Angele Davis, secretary of the Louisiana department of culture tourism and recreation.

"We strongly urge them to continue to accept them," she said at an emergency operations center set up in Baton Rouge.

But there were reports that some local hoteliers were asking evacuees to leave by Friday, and as afar afield as Houston, Texas, a five hour drive to the west, there were isolated incidents of hotels raising prices.

"We are working to try to get hotels to keep their doors open so these people can stay there as long as possible," said Louisiana Lieutentant Governor Mitch Landrieu.


But it was the fate of refugees not in the Dome causing the biggest headache for authorities.

In Houston, people who fled before Katrina barrelled into the coast on Monday, but lost their homes to a deadly storm tide, turned up at the Astrodome, only to be told the stadium was for Superdome needy only.

Tens of emergency shelters had been set up around Houston however, and local high schools were instructed to accept children pulled out of the disaster zone.

The acceptance of children pulled out of the disaster zone is of course what must be done.  But I'm terribly worried about parents looking for their children... in the aftermath of 9/11, a ruling was sent to the schools that in case of emergency, children were not to be released to their parents.  Well - I know at least one mother who read that and thought - then my child won't be in school on those code red days... because I'll be d@mned if they are going to keep me from my child in a code red situation.



BILOXI, Miss. — Two days after Katrina, life in coastal Mississippi remained brutally primitive.
  Rhonda Braden walks through a neighborhood destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in Long Beach, Miss. 
By Rob Carr, AP

There was no power, little to eat or drink and no sign of a quick recovery. Even the little things proved all but impossible.

Bruce Brookshire, 57, rigged up a shower outside his heavily damaged house, hanging it from a big oak tree in his yard. His next mission: finding some water for it.

"This is a shower stall," he said. "My wife said she's not going out here naked. So I told her to wear her bathing suit."

We don't always think about the little things... like trying to be clean...


Amid the struggle to truck in food, water, ice, clothing and other essentials, a few Mississippians broke the law — sometimes far inland from the coastal destruction zone. Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny Dupree said some people were looting in his city of 46,000 about 60 miles north of Gulfport.


Adding to the concern here is the fact that most people can't return to work. About 14,000 who worked in 12 casinos are jobless, their former workplaces smashed to pieces by the hurricane.

Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said Harrah's, which operated two large casinos in Biloxi and Gulfport, has promised to pay its workers for the next 90 days and is offering housing in one of its hotels. But he said it's uncertain how many casinos will be rebuilt.


Meanwhile, people here were just trying to get through another day. More than 700 lined up over two days outside the Backyard Burger on Pass Road for free food, said restaurant owner Gunter Adkins.

"People are very appreciative," chef Andrew Fountain said.

As Adkins and Fountain served charcoal-grilled burgers, police were arresting two men for allegedly looting a Phillips 66 gas station across the street. Looters have been prowling here practically since the rain stopped Monday. Some residents have armed themselves to protect their property.



But the streets of the city, already awash in a toxic brew of sewage and seawater, faced another danger from roving bands of looters. They commandeered vehicles, crashed a forklift through the doors of a shuttered pharmacy and helped themselves to food, drugs, clothing, electronic equipment and firearms from ravaged stores across the city. Gunfire was heard throughout the day.

In uptown New Orleans, managers at a nursing home had stockpiled enough food for 10 days until looters arrived. "Now we'll have to equip our department heads with guns and teach them how to shoot," Peggy Hoffman, the home's executive director, told The Associated Press on Wednesday as the residents were being evacuated.


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#2 HubcapDave


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Posted 01 September 2005 - 01:49 PM

This is reminding me a lot of that movie The Trigger Effect.

#3 Shoshana

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 11:14 PM


A company thast is still up and running in the NO CBD. They have a blog and live webcam.

They also have a very exhausted confused police officer sheltering with them.

Thay're not on the ground, but they've got a bird's eye view.

#4 Morrhigan

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 09:31 AM

^Great link, Shoshana! That blog is fascinating.
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#5 QueenTiye


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Posted 02 September 2005 - 09:38 AM

OMG!  First, thank you 'shana for that link.  I had wanted so much to try to know what was going on from people actually living through this...  and I had gotten a bit emotional today because while walking to work and through  the World Trade Center site, I noticed that the memorial plaques which had recounted the history of the WTC site had been taken down...

This blog from the link Shoshana posted just brought tears to my eyes.  


Thursday, September 1st, 2005
10:46 pm 
The Real News
The following is the result of an interview I just conducted via cell phone with a New Orleans citizen stranded at the Convention Center. I don't know what you're hearing in the mainstream media or in the press conferences from the city and state officials, but here is the truth:

"Bigfoot" is a bar manager and DJ on Bourbon Street, and is a local personality and icon in the city. He is a lifelong resident of the city, born and raised. He rode out the storm itself in the Iberville Projects because he knew he would be above any flood waters. Here is his story as told to me moments ago. I took notes while he talked and then I asked some questions:

    Three days ago, police and national guard troops told citizens to head toward the Crescent City Connection Bridge to await transportation out of the area. The citizens trekked over to the Convention Center and waited for the buses which they were told would take them to Houston or Alabama or somewhere else, out of this area.

    It's been 3 days, and the buses have yet to appear.

    Although obviously he has no exact count, he estimates more than 10,000 people are packed into and around and outside the convention center still waiting for the buses. They had no food, no water, and no medicine for the last three days, until today, when the National Guard drove over the bridge above them, and tossed out supplies over the side crashing down to the ground below. Much of the supplies were destroyed from the drop. Many people tried to catch the supplies to protect them before they hit the ground. Some offered to walk all the way around up the bridge and bring the supplies down, but any attempt to approach the police or national guard resulted in weapons being aimed at them.

    There are many infants and elderly people among them, as well as many people who were injured jumping out of windows to escape flood water and the like -- all of them in dire straights.

    Any attempt to flag down police results in being told to get away at gunpoint. Hour after hour they watch buses pass by filled with people from other areas. Tensions are very high, and there has been at least one murder and several fights. 8 or 9 dead people have been stored in a freezer in the area, and 2 of these dead people are kids.

    The people are so desperate that they're doing anything they can think of to impress the authorities enough to bring some buses. These things include standing in single file lines with the eldery in front, women and children next; sweeping up the area and cleaning the windows and anything else that would show the people are not barbarians.

    The buses never stop.

    Before the supplies were pitched off the bridge today, people had to break into buildings in the area to try to find food and water for their families. There was not enough. This spurred many families to break into cars to try to escape the city. There was no police response to the auto thefts until the mob reached the rich area -- Saulet Condos -- once they tried to get cars from there... well then the whole swat teams began showing up with rifles pointed. Snipers got on the roof and told people to get back.

    He reports that the conditions are horrendous. Heat, mosquitoes and utter misery. The smell, he says, is "horrific."

    He says it's the slowest mandatory evacuation ever, and he wants to know why they were told to go to the Convention Center area in the first place; furthermore, he reports that many of them with cell phones have contacts willing to come rescue them, but people are not being allowed through to pick them up.


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#6 Shalamar


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Posted 02 September 2005 - 10:25 AM

{{{{{ QT }}}}} I know how you are feeling. I was crying earlier, just devestated, and finally getting through all the post surgery numbness.

We have F**ked up so badly. I am ashamed to claim some of those in charge of this debacle as fellow americans. Some one, and I don't really care who at this moment, needs to step in, and take charge as those who are supposed to obviously have not.
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#7 Shoshana

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 01:33 PM

All I can say is to please pass that link to the operating website to other forums you think will be interested - the more people that have access to the pictures, webcam and blog the better.

I, myself have been very sick this week (not directly Katrina related, but Katrina stuff actually made my condition worse) I cannot imagine how I would have survived this week in NO without docs and meds - and a/c and water. I keep imagining being there and it makes me green to think about it.

We are slowly hearing from relatives of friends, relatives of co workers, relatives of neighbors and relatives of neighbors of friends. It's amazing how all of a sudden we're all related again - getting a call from Gareth saying his boss just heard from a relative made me happy ... and I don't even know his boss - never mind his relative! So, that's another small drop of good news.

Another - there's a Red Cross shelter here in Austin. 600 people are registered but only a few are actually staying there. Why? Because people from all over the area are waiting in the parking lot for people from Louisiana to show up, and as they arrive, adopting them, getting them thru the Red Cross signup, and taking them home! looks like alot more people are fixin to show up in Texas.



San Antonio To Take Additional 25,000 Hurricane Refugees

Sep 1, 2005 4:00 pm US/Central
What used to be Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio will soon shelter thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

Texas earlier opened the Astrodome in Houston to evacuees from the Superdome in New Orleans. Now Texas has agreed to house up to 25-thousand more evacuees from Louisiana in San Antonio. A shelter is being created at what's now Kelly U-S-A, which is a sprawling city-owned complex

San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger says he'd be pretty reluctant to turn away anyone who's hungry. The refugees are expected to arrive at the shelter on their own, but some will be bused in from the crowded Astrodome in Houston. Meanwhile, Governor Rick Perry today plans to visit another shelter Reunion Arena in Dallas.



Man Could Still Find Relocated People

Sep 2, 2005 10:44 am US/Central
HOUSTON (AP) The U.S. Postal Service is making arrangements to get mail to evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.

Officials are urging the evacuees to file change-of-address cards listing their shelter’s address. The plan could help reunite familiy members sent to shelters in various cities.

A change of address can be filed by telephone at 1-800 ASK-USPS.

People who believe they may have family members at the Houston Astrodome can address their mail to the named individual at “ General Delivery Houston, Texas 77230.” Similar arrangements are being made for major shelters set up for people evacuated to other areas of the U.S.

The district manager for the U.S Postal Service in Houston says the agency’s headquarters staff began putting the plan together before Hurricane Katrina hit last weekend.

Mail for much of Louisiana has been forwarded to Houston.



Hurricane Relief Efforts Underway in Austin
Katrina refugees in Austin update

With an estimated 5,000 hurricane evacuees expected to arrive in Austin this weekend, local Red Cross officials were scrambling today to find additional housing and temporary shelters.

The Austin Hotel & Motel Association as well as local apartment managers were coordinating efforts with Red Cross officials. The Austin Convention Center and the University of Texas Erwin Center were being considered this morning as possible shelters for hurricane evacuees, as the smaller Burger Activity Center in South Austin was expected to reach capacity tonight or tomorrow.

"We're looking at parking, feeding, and other logistics," Red Cross spokeswoman Marty McKellips said. As of Thursday night, about 60 people had arrived at the Burger Center.

But with hundreds more evacuees anticipated throughout the Labor Day weekend, Red Cross and Austin Emergency Management officials were plotting an extended course of action.

Meanwhile, Mayor Will Wynn is asking residents and businesses to open their hearts, minds, and wallets to the hurricane victims as they continue arriving in Austin. We are asking people to make an unprecedented contribution, mayoral aide Matt Curtis said, while fielding phone calls.

Were asking everyone to be open-minded and do whatever it takes to help these people. The mayor is putting out a call for volunteers, prayers, and money.

Edited by Shoshana, 02 September 2005 - 02:17 PM.

#8 Nialla

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 02:38 PM

I live north of Dallas. The county seat (pop. ~10,000) is going to take in about 200 people into the National Guard Armory building.

My hometown (pop. ~2,000) is scrambling to prep the nursing home that's been closed for a couple of years. Volunteers are cleaning the rooms, checking out the plumbing, a/c, etc., and I expect people will be moving in by Monday. They're setting this up as a "family shelter" and expect to house about 100 families. The Red Cross and local law enforcement are supposed to be screening people for criminal records before accepting them into the family shelter.

They've made arrangements for kids to go to the local school or be transported to neighboring districts, and the local churches are coordinating donations. I'm the director at the local library, and we're going to waive the usual ID requirements for anyone who wants to get a library card. Once we see how many kids are involved, we might try to do some kind of programming for them. This is going to be a long haul for everyone, so keeping the kids entertained will be an issue. We've also got public computers, but only four, so they might become busy with people trying to keep in touch with family. Not sure how much demand we'll get, but we're prepared to help in any way we can.
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