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New Orleans....

Bass-Invader

TRIBE Member
http://www.emsnetwork.org/artman/publish/article_18337.shtml

Hurricane Katrina - Our Experiences

by Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky

-----------------------------------------

Bradshaw and Slonsky are paramedics from California that were attending the EMS conference in New Orleans. Larry Bradshaw is the chief shop steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790; and Lorrie Beth Slonsky is steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790. [California]


Their [Bradshaw and Slonsky's] tale is just one of this type now appearing in many newspapers, online and with listservers. The fact they are paramedics is largely irrelevant to the tale, however, there are many EMT/Paramedic personal accounts online - some even more incredible. Pleae do not write to us (EMSN) for permission to reprint, interview, etc. They do not work for EMSN. Their story is a reprint they disseminated. -- emsnetwork.org


Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry.

The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottle water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.


We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed,were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water.

On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".

We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in.

Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.

The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search and rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.

We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.

There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did not have air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) we were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women, children, elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be "medically screened" to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome. Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist.

There was more suffering than need be.

Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.
 

junglisthead

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by kerouacdude
Physician who told Cheney to go F*ck Himself Lost his Home in Katrina, Detained, Cuffed by Cheney's M-16-carrying Goons


by Jackson Thoreau

http://www.opednews.com

Dr. Ben Marble, a young emergency room physician who plays in alternative rock bands and does art on the side, needs our help. Since he was the one who told Dick Cheney to "go fuck yourself" on Sept. 8, that's the least we can do.

Marble is a complex guy, to say the least. Some of the lyrics he writes can be considered harsh by some – personally what I've heard is very much on target - but he has a softer side as an organizer of breast cancer fund-raisers, not to mention an ER doctor.

When he, like thousands of others, lost his home due to Hurricane Katrina last week, it was the single most traumatic week of his life. That led to his Sept. 8 confrontation with the man who best represents the worst of the most callous, heartless, shittiest administration in U.S. history.

As Marble explains, he was driving to his destroyed house Sept. 8 in Gulfport, Ms., when military police refused to allow him to cross a barricade that was about 200 feet from his home. They forced him to drive an extra 20 minutes and spend even more on gasoline.

"Thanks to Dubya Gump and Mr. Cheney, gas is really expensive and extremely hard to get anywhere Katrina has destroyed," Marble wrote. "So needless to say, I was extremely aggravated that they wouldn't let me pass."

Suddenly a long line of dark cars pulled up, and they honked at Marble to back up to let them through the barricade that supposedly no one could drive through. That only made Marble madder so he did what most of us would do – or at least consider doing.

"I waved a middle finger at the caravan," Marble wrote.

After driving the extra 20 minutes and filming video of destruction along the way, he made it to his home. Marble overheard a neighbor say that Cheney was down the street talking to people. That's when he got the idea to go meet Dr. Evil himself.

"I am no fan of Mr. Cheney because of several reasons," Marble wrote. "For those who don't know, Mr. Cheney is infamous for telling Senator [Pat] Leahy 'go fu** yourself' on the Senate floor. Also, I am not happy about the fact that thousands have died due to the slow action of FEMA, not to even mention the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time, i.e. Iraq."

So Marble asked a couple police officers if he and a friend could walk down to Cheney. They told him Cheney was "looking forward†to talking to “the locals.â€

"So we grabbed my Canon digital rebel and my Sony videocamera and started walking down the street," Marble wrote. "And then right in front of the destroyed tennis court I used to play on Dick Cheney was giving a pep rally, talking to the press. The Secret Service guys patted us down and waved the wands over us, and then let us pass."

As he stood about 10 feet away from Cheney and his friend and some camera operators from CNN and other media filmed the scene, Marble suddenly yelled, "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney! Go fuck yourself, you asshole!"

Hey, at least Marble was polite. After all, he referred to Cheney as “Mr. Cheney.â€

"I had no intention of harming anyone but merely wanted to echo Mr. Cheney's infamous words back at him," Marble wrote. "At that moment, I noticed the Secret Service guys with a panic-stricken look on their faces, like they were about to tackle me, so I calmly walked away back to my former house."

His friend videotaped a little bit longer and then came back to Marble’s house. As they were salvaging a few things from Marble's home, two military police waving M-16's showed up and said they were looking
for someone who fit Marble's description who had cursed at Cheney.

"I told them I was probably the person they were looking for, and so they put me in handcuffs and 'detained' me for about 20 minutes or so," Marble wrote. "My right thumb went numb because the cuffs were on so tight, but they were fairly courteous and eventually released me after getting all my contact info. They said I had NOT broken any laws so I was free to go."

So let’s get this straight: A physician with a newborn baby loses most everything he owns in the hurricane, does what most of us WANT to do and “echoes†Cheney’s words he spoke on the Senate floor last year, walks away harmlessly, mission accomplished, and then once the media cameras leave, he is treated like a foreign terrorist as Cheney’s goons waving M-16s handcuff him in front of his destroyed home? Had it not been for the media cameras filming the initial scene, I doubt Cheney’s goons would have just let Marble go after 20 minutes.

America, land of the free?

Marble and his family have been in the media spotlight before, including his wife, Lisa, and baby, Sofia Grace, who was born shortly after the storm, on CNN. Marble has also been interviewed in art magazines and the Biloxi Sun Herald about his concert fund-raisers and musical success — one of his bands, dR. O, has had at least 20 No. 1 songs on the MP3.com charts.

"The truth is even with all our losses, we are still luckier than many people down here because at least we didn't die," Marble wrote. "But I thought I could try to raise some awareness to the bad policies of the Dubya Gump administration and also possibly raise some money to replace the many things we lost, and so I decided I would auction the videotape my friend shot of the event. I will also grant an interview to the winner if so desired."

So go to eBay here and place a bid for this important video to help Marble raise some needed funds. I have done so and was at least at one time the high bidder.

Marble also has an Internet site with photographs of some damage in his town at www.HurricaneKatrinaSucked.com. A photo of him is here, and you can also email Marble at clone9@yahoo.com.

Dr. Ben Marble, you rock. May we all return the favor.
hahaha !!! i know him from another messageboard, he goes under the name antichrist superstar at itshappening.com( messageboard that was created for terrorist talk)



here is the uncut video

http://www.big-boys.com/articles/cheneyfbomb.html
 

Old Yeller

TRIBE Member
takling with a guy at the harbour tonight, he was saying that last night CNN aired a segment about Divers who went down to repair the levee's having found evidence of an explosion. Apparently one of the divers smuggled some of the debris and has sent it to an independant lab for testing....

did anyone see the clip on CNN?
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Old Yeller
takling with a guy at the harbour tonight, he was saying that last night CNN aired a segment about Divers who went down to repair the levee's having found evidence of an explosion. Apparently one of the divers smuggled some of the debris and has sent it to an independant lab for testing....

did anyone see the clip on CNN?

A quick bit of research yielded:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/7/01752/03876
http://www.godlikeproductions.com/news/item.php?keyid=8932&category=1&scategory=0
http://change-links.org/v-web/b2/

So I am not sure if the intentional explosions are actually the same ones referenced in other incidents. I suspect they must be.
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by BayStreetBoi
That story was determined to be inaccurate shortly after it was first reported. What actually happened is that the Army Corps of Engineers contactors were being fired upon by other individuals, and it was these shooters that were killed by the police, not the contractors.

Really? Well, that would make more sense. But it is confusing, because if you look at the original report:

A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers said the victims were contractors on their way to repair a canal.
You'd think that the Army Corps would know if it was their people or someone else's that got shot. I suppose the confusion must lie in the hands of the reporters here. :-\
 

PosTMOd

Well-Known TRIBEr
Originally posted by stir-fry
I think people should levee the jokes out of it for a little while.
But a little leveety is what we need, though it is admittedly possibly a breech of etiquette.
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
When the Levee Breaks - by Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie (1929) - also recorded by Led Zeppelin - the song was originally about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break,
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break,
When the levee breaks I’ll have no place to stay.
Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan,
Lord, mean old levee taught me to weep and moan,
Got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home,
Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well.
Don’t it make you feel bad
When you’re tryin’ to find your way home,
You don’t know which way to go?
If you’re goin’ down south
They go no work to do,
If you don’t know about chicago.
Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good,
Now, cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good,
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.
All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
Thinkin’ ’bout me baby and my happy home.
Going, go’n’ to chicago,
Go’n’ to chicago,
Sorry but I can’t take you.
Going down, going down now, going down.

Some interesting parallels between the Mississippi Flood and now:

"Great Mississippi Flood
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This article is about the Great Mississippi Flood in 1927. For the Mississippi Flood of 1993, see Great Flood of 1993.

The Great Mississippi Flood in 1927 was the most destructive river flood in United States history.

In the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 the Mississippi River broke out of its levee system in 145 places and flooded 27,000 square miles or about 16,570,627 acres (70,000 km²). The area was inundated up to a depth of 30 feet (10 m). The flood caused over $400 million in damages and killed 246 people in seven states.

The flood affected Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee with Arkansas being hardest hit with 13% of its territory covered by floodwaters.

The flood began when heavy rains pounded the central basin of the Mississippi in the summer of 1926. By September the Mississippi's tributaries in Kansas and Iowa were swollen to capacity. On New Year's day of 1927 the Cumberland River at Nashville topped levees at 56.2 feet (17 m).

By May of 1927 the Mississippi River below Memphis, Tennessee was a watery oval up to 60 miles wide (100 km).

The flood propelled Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, in charge of flood relief operations, into the national spotlight and set the stage for his election to the Presidency. It also helped Huey Long be elected Louisiana Governor in 1928.

As the flood approached New Orleans, Louisiana 30 tons of dynamite were set off on the levee at Caernarvon, Louisiana and sent 250,000 ft³/s (7,000 m³/s) of water pouring through. This prevented New Orleans from experiencing serious damage but destroyed much of the marsh below the city and flooded all of St. Bernard Parish. As it turned out, the destruction of the Caernarvon levee was unnecessary; several major levee breaks well upstream of New Orleans, including one the day after the dynamiting, made it impossible for flood waters to seriously threaten the city.

By August 1927 the flood subsided. During the disaster 700,000 people were displaced, including 330,000 African-Americans who were moved to 154 relief camps. Over 13,000 refugees near Greenville, Mississippi were gathered from area farms and evacuated to the crest of an unbroken levee, and stranded there for days without food or clean water, while boats arrived to evacuate white women and children. Many African-Americans were detained and forced to labor at gunpoint during flood relief efforts.

Several reports on the poor situation in the refugee camps, including one by the Colored Advisory Commission by Robert Russa Moton, were kept out of the media at the request of Herbert Hoover, with the promise of further reforms for blacks after the presidential election. When he failed to keep the promise, Moton and other influential African-Americans helped to shift the allegiance of black Americans from the Republican party to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democrats.

The aftermath of the flood was one factor in the Great Migration of African-Americans to northern cities. The flood resulted in a great cultural output as well, inspiring a great deal of folklore and folk music. Charlie Patton, Bessie Smith and many other Delta blues musicians wrote numerous songs about the flood; Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" was also based on the events of the flood. Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie's "When the Levee Breaks" was reworked by Led Zeppelin, and become one of that group's most famous songs."

Not much has changed between then and now, one might say...
 

octo

TRIBE Member
these two were just on CNN, thel police chief that blocked the bridge is being interviewed.

http://www.emsnetwork.org/artman/publish/article_18337.shtml

Hurricane Katrina - Our Experiences

by Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky

-----------------------------------------

Bradshaw and Slonsky are paramedics from California that were attending the EMS conference in New Orleans. Larry Bradshaw is the chief shop steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790; and Lorrie Beth Slonsky is steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790. [California]


Their [Bradshaw and Slonsky's] tale is just one of this type now appearing in many newspapers, online and with listservers. The fact they are paramedics is largely irrelevant to the tale, however, there are many EMT/Paramedic personal accounts online - some even more incredible. Pleae do not write to us (EMSN) for permission to reprint, interview, etc. They do not work for EMSN. Their story is a reprint they disseminated. -- emsnetwork.org


Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry.

The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottle water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.


We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed,were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water.

On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".

We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in.

Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.

The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search and rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.

We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.

There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did not have air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) we were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women, children, elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be "medically screened" to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome. Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist.

There was more suffering than need be.

Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
There are WAY too many WTF moments in that article for me to even count.

This tragedy is beyond incompetent. It is criminal.
 

octo

TRIBE Member
i'm surprised at the amount of shit CNN is stirring up.
they've even filed a lawsuit (against i dunno who) cause the army is blocking them from using their cameras to film stuff.
 

Subsonic Chronic

TRIBE Member
I <3 the Harper's weekly news email.

Sign up here.

Emergency officials in Louisiana requested 25,000 body bags for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and a total evacuation of New Orleans was ordered. Much of the city was still underwater, though several people who lived on high ground objected to the evacuation. "I haven't even run out of weed yet," said one woman. Houston, Texas, the headquarters of contractors Halliburton and Baker Hughes, was preparing for a boom; one real-estate firm was offering special financing deals "for hurricane survivors only." Wealthy residents of New Orleans were devising ways to rebuild the city with a minimum of poor people. Barbara Bush visited the Astrodome and said that, given that the evacuees were "underprivileged anyway," things were "working out very well" for them, and Representative Richard Baker gave the hurricane credit for finally cleaning up public housing in New Orleans. The government began to award no-bid contracts for the reconstruction, and President George W. Bush signed an executive order to allow federal contractors working in the wake of Katrina to pay their workers less than the prevailing wage. When questioned by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over his administration's response to the storm, Bush asked, "What didn't go right?" He also declared September 16 to be a national day of prayer. Dick Cheney toured the South. "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney," yelled Ben Marble, a Mississippi physician who lost his home in the hurricane. "Go fuck yourself." Marble was handcuffed and later released. Republicans promised to probe themselves.

It was revealed that evacuees from the hurricane had been flown to Charleston, West Virginia, where no one expected them, instead of Charleston, South Carolina, where accommodations and doctors were waiting. Doctors in New Orleans admitted that they had euthanized critically ill patients rather than leaving them to suffer. "Those who had no chance of making it," said an emergency official, "were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die."

Michael Brown, director of FEMA, was found to have lied on his resume and was removed from the Hurricane Katrina relief effort and sent back to Washington, D.C., to administer FEMA at a national level. "I'm going to go home," he said, "and walk my dog and hug my wife, and maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night's sleep." He later resigned. FEMA officials asked journalists not to take pictures of dead bodies
 

xopus

TRIBE Member
hope this isnt a repost.

i'm pretty shocked. i was NOT expecting this.

By Lara Jakes Jordan, Associated Press Writer | September 13, 2005

WASHINGTON --President Bush said Tuesday that "I take responsibility" for failures in dealing with Hurricane Katrina and said the disaster raised broader questions about the government's ability to respond to natural disasters as well as terror attacks.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

The president was asked whether people should be worried about the government's ability to handle another terrorist attack given failures in responding to Katrina.

"Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond," Bush replied.

He said he wanted to know both what went wrong and what went right.

As for blunders in the federal response, "I'm not going to defend the process going in," Bush said. "I am going to defend the people saving lives."

He praised relief workers at all levels. "I want people in America to understand how hard people worked to save lives down there," he said.

Bush spoke after R. David Paulison, the new acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, pledged to intensify efforts to find more permanent housing for the tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors now in shelters.
 
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