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New Orleans in the throes of Katrina, and apocalypse

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  • Andrew Pincon
    I thought you would like to know of the troubles of others in the aftermath of this week s US hurricane. Andy Pincon pincon@digibridge.org New Orleans in the
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 2, 2005
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      I thought you would like to know of the troubles of others in the aftermath of this week's US hurricane.
      Andy Pincon
      pincon@...

      New Orleans in the throes of Katrina, and apocalypse

      05:02 PM EDT on Friday, September 2, 2005

      By ALLEN G. BREED / Associated Press

      EDITOR'S NOTE – Allen G. Breed, Southeast regional reporter for The Associated Press, arrived in New Orleans two days before Hurricane Katrina, and watched as New Orleans descended into havoc. This is what he has seen.



      NEW ORLEANS – Above the din, a woman is screaming the Lord's Prayer as if heaven can no longer hear silent pleas.



      "And lead us not into temptation," she bellows hoarsely to the unhearing throng, "but deliver us from evil ..."



      But temptation is everywhere in this crippled city. And so, it seems, is evil.



      Five days after Hurricane Katrina came and went, necessity has forced police officers to become looters. Gangs hijack the boats of volunteers who have come to rescue them. Naked babies wail for food as men get drunk on stolen liquor.
      Also Online
      Latest news:
      • Troops bring supplies into desperate city
      • Bush tours Katrina damage amid criticism
      • Houston opens two more refugee centers
      • Camera helps identify unknown sea creatures
      • Kanye West rips Bush during NBC concert
      • LSU quarter back opens home to Fats Domino
      • COMPLETE COVERAGE

      Today:
      • America scrambles to cope with refugees
      • Jobless rate in Gulf Coast likely to surge
      • Reporter's Notebook: Is this happening in America?
      • Evacuee bus overturns in Louisiana; one killed
      • Donations pour in for Katrina relief
      • New Orleans in the throes of Katrina, and apocalypse
      • New Orleans hospitals getting some help
      • Nations to release 60M barrels of oil, gas
      • Big oil spill spotted on Mississippi River
      • Congress approves $10.5B in Katrina aid
      • New Orleans mayor fumes over slow response
      • FEMA chief: Lawlessness not anticipated
      See the effects:
      • LIVE coverage from WWL-TV in New Orleans
      • Slideshow: New Orleans rescue efforts continue
      • Slideshow: Escape from New Orleans
      • Slideshow: Assessing Gulf Coast damage
      • Slideshow: Rescue from the air
      • Slideshow: Refugees set up camp at Astrodome
      • Slideshow: Reader-submitted hurricane photos from wwltv.com
      • Satellite images from DigitalGlobe:
      New Orleans before | After
      Slideshow: Mississippi coast devastated
      • Slideshow: AP photos from Wednesday
      -->
      Give, get help:
      • FEMA, 1-800-621-FEMA
      • Disaster Management Interoperability Services
      • Red Cross, 1-800-HELP-NOW; 1-866-438-4636 to get help
      • Salvation Army, 1-800-SAL-ARMY
      • Catholic Charities
      • Louisiana SPCA
      • FEMA charity tips
      External links:
      • WWL-TV: Text blog of latest Katrina updates
      • KHOU-TV: Reporters from our sister-station in Houston live blog their coverage
      • Wikipedia: Hurricane Katrina
      • Craigslist New Orleans: Community bulletin board







      A walk through New Orleans is a walk through hell – punctuated, it must be said, by moments of grace.



      Along the debris-choked Mississippi River, pharmacist Jason Dove watches as people scramble in the parking lot of the downtown convention center for cases of airlifted water and shakes his head. "We created this Frankenstein," he says. "It's showing how fragile this society is."



      In the world-renowned French Quarter, armed residents hide behind ornate iron gates like prisoners in a frilly jail. Historic markers on Napoleonic-era houses share billing with signs that warn: "You loot, we shoot!"



      When water began rising in predominantly black neighborhoods, many jumped to the conclusion that the levee had been purposely breached to preserve the old city and its hotels.



      "F... the Quarter!" a black man shouts as he walks beneath a balcony where a resident lounges with a cold beer as generator roars away in the otherwise deathly night silence. "They always protect the Quarter."



      Katrina's winds have left behind an information vacuum. And that vacuum has been filled by rumor. There is nothing to correct wild reports that armed gangs have taken over the convention center. That two babies had their throats slit in the night. That a 7-year-old girl was raped and killed at the Superdome.



      One officer calls these human cattle yards "lawless countries unto themselves."



      After several days in the street with little water and less food, people around the convention center began imagining that the storm was somehow a vehicle for ethnic cleansing. One black man insists that authorities want everyone corralled into the convention center – not to facilitate an orderly evacuation, but so police can ignite the gas and blow them up.



      "They want us all crazy so they can shoot us down like dogs!" a woman shouts.



      Police point their guns at the crowds and tell them to back off. The people take it as aggression. But when you look into these officers' eyes, there is real fear.



      Officer Kirk LeBranche cowered on the roof of his flooded hotel in New Orleans East for three days as the nighttime hours became a shooting gallery.



      "Anarchy and chaos," he says. "People are desperate."



      Officers deserted their posts. Many of them lost everything but their lives to the storm, and they refuse to gamble those on a seemingly lost city.



      Katrina has not just robbed people of their homes. It has taken their dignity.



      On a sidewalk crowded with children and the elderly, a woman pulls down her pants and squats behind a potted plant. A passing man averts his eyes.



      "Thank you," she says. "I'm just doing what I've got to do."



      At the convention center, where thousands have camped in the streets since Monday awaiting buses out of the city, the despair feeds on itself like a voracious beast.



      When National Guard helicopters attempt to land supplies in the parking lot, waiter Bob Vineyard joins a self-appointed ground crew attempting to set up a safe perimeter. The crowd surges past them with an almost feral intensity, and the chopper crew is forced to take off.



      The soldiers drop cases of water and self-heating meals from 10 feet in the air. Many of the bottles burst on impact, the precious water left to evaporate in the hot sun.



      "We would have had a whole helicopter full of food if you had stayed back!" Vineyard shouts at the crowd, with disgust. "Hey, y'all. I did my best."



      Carl Davis wonders why someone can't just truck the food in and hand it out in an orderly fashion. Rather than taking comfort in the food drops, he finds the process insulting, demeaning.



      "They're giving it to us like we're in the Third World," he spits. "This should never have happened. It didn't happen in Iraq, and it didn't happen in the tsunami."



      Down the street, anxious tourists idle on a bandstand across from Harrah's casino, which has become a National Guard and police staging area. Jill Johnson of Saskatchewan says police don't want them there, but she and others worry they would be easy prey at the convention center.



      "We're appalled," says Johnson, who tried to buy a car to get out of town. "This city is built on tourists, and we're their last priority."



      Nearby, Cassandra Robinson huddles in the loading area of a local store where a small community has formed. Her niece, Heavenly, who turned 1 year old the day before the storm, dozes in Robinson's arms, weakened by a diet of water and mashed-up potato chips.



      Robinson says people are behaving like animals because they are being treated as animals.



      "We're not born thieves," she says, as neighbors heat food over a trash-can fire. "We were born Christians."



      Thursday night, a prayer session begins at one end of Convention Center Boulevard and spreads to the other. Please, they implore, let there be no more rioting.



      The next morning, someone – Robinson does not know who – appears with fresh, cold milk. And instead of fighting over it, able-bodied adults step back and allow the children and the elderly to be nourished first.



      Across the city, people have banded together, creating pockets of civility amid the chaos.



      The management of the French Quarter's Hotel Le Richelieu fled two days after the storm. Those left behind – cooks, maids and security officers – organized to ration supplies, establish foraging teams and set up a schedule for guard duty.



      Days after the storm, the kitchen somehow manages to keep serving hot food. Guests have taken to calling the place the Hotel Rwanda.



      "It's a jungle and it's dog-eat-dog," hotel security guard Glenn King says as he rests his hand on the butt of a revolver at his side. "When you see the police doing the same thing the looters are doing, it tells me you're going to have to fend for yourself."



      Some find ways to flee. New Orleans resident Robert Jordan and eight family members are on their way to Birmingham, Ala., but he delays his departure more than two hours to help plug a fellow refugee's punctured tires. He uses goods he "borrowed" from a nearby auto parts store.



      "Bye-bye, French Quarter!" he shouts as his three-vehicle caravan leaves the protective walls of the Richelieu parking lot. "Be safe."



      But Jordan's sentiments seem wishful thinking.



      Before dawn Friday, the French Quarter is rocked by explosions. A few miles down river, railroad tanker cars erupt in a tornado of flame, showering a flooded neighborhood with soot and casting a pall of black over the city – as if New Orleans isn't already under one.



      A police officer says snipers fired on workers sent in to fight the fire. They stood down and watched it burn.



      Randall Davis walks from his home in the French Quarter and sits on a bench, staring at the inferno through reddened eyes, his head swimming with apocalyptic thoughts.



      "It's becoming less numbing each day," he says, as the fire rages. "It's unfortunate that I'm getting used to anarchy and chaos when this was once a vital, vibrant community of people who looked out for one another. And it's degraded to this."



      Davis laughed when he heard a congressman suggest that the city should be abandoned to the swamp waters from which it was born. But he isn't smiling as he stares into the smoke-shrouded sunrise.



      "If this is what it's like when we even have a semblance of society," he says with a sigh, "maybe we shouldn't build it back."



      Best Regards
      Andrew Pinçon
      Excutive Director
      Digital Workforce Education Society
      An Illinois Entrepreneurship Network Affiliate
      pincon@...
      pincon@...
      http://www.digibridge.org





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Teresa Almeida d'Eca
      Dear Andy and all American friends, I ve been devastated by the images I see day after day on TV of the horrific catastrophe in Louisiana, Mississippi and
      Message 2 of 5 , Sep 3, 2005
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        Dear Andy and all American friends,

        I've been devastated by the images I see day after day on TV of the horrific
        catastrophe in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama caused by hurricane
        Katrina, and I'm at loss for words to express all the different emotions and
        thoughts that are going through my mind. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

        I feel deeply for everybody there - victims, survivors, evacuees... -, and
        for the horrific ordeal they're going through.

        I hope none of you has missing relatives or friends in that area.

        I still haven't come to terms with the fact that these chaotic images are
        coming to us from the U.S.

        Hugs all,

        Teresa
      • Michael Coghlan
        ... Yes that s the amazing thing about all this isn t it Tere? We re so conditioned to images like this coming from the developing world, but not from the
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 3, 2005
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          At 09:31 PM 9/3/2005, Teresa wrote:
          >Dear Andy and all American friends,
          >
          >I still haven't come to terms with the fact that these chaotic images are
          >coming to us from the U.S.

          Yes that's the amazing thing about all this isn't it Tere? We're so
          conditioned to images like this coming from the developing world, but
          not from the Western world. To state the obvious. it just goes to
          show that Nature's the boss.

          Like anyone who's visited New Orleans I keep remembering things I saw
          when I visited there. And wondering what's there now....
          http://users.chariot.net.au/~michaelc/US/no.htm

          - Michael.
        • Teresa Almeida d'Eca
          Dear Michael, Thanks for sharing the lovely photos. Heartbreaking to think that most probably nothing is there any more. More heartbreaking is all the human
          Message 4 of 5 , Sep 3, 2005
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            Dear Michael,

            Thanks for sharing the lovely photos. Heartbreaking to think that most
            probably nothing is there any more. More heartbreaking is all the human
            suffering and misery.

            I've included the page in our WiA Index under your name in Homepages.

            Hugs,

            Teresa


            > Like anyone who's visited New Orleans I keep remembering things I saw
            > when I visited there. And wondering what's there now....
            > http://users.chariot.net.au/~michaelc/US/no.htm
            > - Michael.
          • Maria Irene Urriola
            In 1999, when there were mudslides and flooding in Vargas State, here in Venezuela and our beloved president rejected the American Government aid, most of us
            Message 5 of 5 , Sep 3, 2005
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              In 1999, when there were mudslides and flooding in Vargas State, here in
              Venezuela and our "beloved" president rejected the American Government aid,
              most of us though chavez went crazy. But, after reading the letter below,
              could we, Venezuelans, say he did the wrong thing?
              The Bible says that one cannot be light to others and darkness at home.
              Greetings from sunny and hot Valencia, Venezuela,
              Maria Irene

              Friday, September 2nd, 2005
              Dear Mr. Bush:

              Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and
              thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on
              earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help
              finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a
              drag.

              Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really
              use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping
              with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

              Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of
              Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it
              was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still
              homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its
              way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you
              didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get
              bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to
              ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

              I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to
              Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't
              let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and
              what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

              And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you
              specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans
              this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you
              hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army
              engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important
              construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

              On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was
              moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you
              flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey,
              I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and
              act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

              There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use
              it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to
              nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because
              the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm
              like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken
              Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it
              would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to
              Cleveland.

              No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent
              of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no
              transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not
              like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on
              their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING
              -- to do with this!

              You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters
              and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast
              are near Tikrit.

              Yours,

              Michael Moore
              MMFlint@...
              www.MichaelMoore.com

              P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She
              and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across
              the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up
              with them before they get to DC on September 21st.


              -----Mensaje original-----
              De: evonline2002_webheads@yahoogroups.com
              [mailto:evonline2002_webheads@yahoogroups.com] En nombre de Michael Coghlan
              Enviado el: Sábado, 03 de Septiembre de 2005 08:10 a.m.
              Para: evonline2002_webheads@yahoogroups.com
              Asunto: Re: [evonline2002_webheads] New Orleans in the throes of Katrina,
              and apocalypse

              At 09:31 PM 9/3/2005, Teresa wrote:
              >Dear Andy and all American friends,
              >
              >I still haven't come to terms with the fact that these chaotic images are
              >coming to us from the U.S.

              Yes that's the amazing thing about all this isn't it Tere? We're so
              conditioned to images like this coming from the developing world, but
              not from the Western world. To state the obvious. it just goes to
              show that Nature's the boss.

              Like anyone who's visited New Orleans I keep remembering things I saw
              when I visited there. And wondering what's there now....
              http://users.chariot.net.au/~michaelc/US/no.htm

              - Michael.






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