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Where is the aid New Orleans so badly requires?

Apologies for the online silence of this morning, but the last few hours were spent trying to calm down enough to find the words to express HOW ABSOLUTELY ENRAGED AND DISAPPOINTED WE ARE as evacuees that not one sorry act of federal coordination or concern has crystallized to alleviate conditions in our city. So far all we have are rumors of supplies, guards and relief entering New Orleans. Thank you, American leadership! This is not the time to spray vitriol at FEMA leadership, Rep. Hastert, troop support (or lack thereof) and others, but rest assured that this New Orleanian has words and votes reserved for a later date. Mayor Nagin and Gov. Blanco, my hats off to you at this time: you may not have been prepared, but we are with you in your plea to the nation.

A few states kindly offer shelter, guards and other help, but this is not enough. America needs to understand the sheer gravity of this horrible situation. We have frantic and desparate people who are shackled to New Orleans without food, water and safety. They have no way to get out thanks to rampant crime and limited access to evacuation facilities. We need to get these people out with security escorts before we can talk about repair and restoration. To borrow the words of Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI), these are tax-paying American citizens, your fellow people, not refugees.

Willing Evacuees (from nola.com)

Where are the troops? The lack of quick response to this devastation from our government is unbelievably saddening. As our mayor, Ray Nagin, just said, “Get off your asses.” We can’t “round up” mere schoolbuses and get people out of there – every single Greyhound or tour bus in this nation should be heading down there to evacuate the stranded. Call your local bottled water company and ask them what they are doing to send shipments down to Louisiana and Mississippi.

A friend tried to pacify me, no, lend perspective with “There is no evil intent, just the usual human failings including political posturing, self aggrandizement, waffling, etc.” Well, this is not the time for it, alright? If people continue to die as the government quibbles over a $10.5 billion relief bill, the deaths of our people will be on their hands.

60% of the New Orleans police force (NOPD) is leaving due to exhaustion and not being allowed to respond in kind to shooters for fear of hitting civilians. We need relief for our overworked, hungry and shaken police force. 600 NOPD officers (and dwindling) and 250 NG troops cannot contain the derangement that is now the city of New Orleans. WHERE IS THE HELP?

If any of you personally know troops or emergency personnel heading to New Orleans, the still-dry parts of the city ought to be forcibly evacuated with security escorts. This includes people still stuck in the Garden District and Uptown portions, who are willing to leave as long as troops arrive to protect their exit path.

From D, “For me, Machelle’s continued presence in New Orleans is the biggest concern. The rest is just stuff. Stuff we can fix, stuff can be replaced. Machelle cannot. If we have to get her, I think our best plan would be to beg, borrow, steal a boat and come down the river. At this point I won’t go back to New Orleans unarmed. I’m willing to take an armed crew downriver to extract those people if we have to.”

America, if you are reading this and have an iota of conscience, drop whatever it is you are doing and call whomever you know in power to help get troops and resources down there. I’m not asking, I’m begging. We need your help.

Troops: 12:10PM CDT – I see footage of troop convoys entering the Convention Center area and armed National Guardsmen walking single-file towards the thronging masses

1:03PM CDT – Footage of troop convoys making their way down Poydras St. to Superdome and towards the river

The Fires: A building on the northwest corner of Poydras and Tchoupitoulas (lakeside/downriver – almost next door to Mother’s – across Tchops from W Hotel) is being eaten by a fire. Another fire emanates from a Westbank chemical depot right across the river from the Quarter. See nola.com article for more.

Nagin Radio Address Paraphrased: “Don’t tell me there are 40,000 troops coming when I don’t see them. Now, get off your asses and do something about the worst disaster to hit this nation.”

10 comments… add one
  • just jon September 2, 2005, 11:45 AM

    Act For Change has a petition up asking Congress to investigate and hold responsible those who have slowed down and bungled this situation:


  • just jon September 2, 2005, 11:50 AM

    I caught this on CNN yesterday, and had DAS pull the closed-caption text from DATN:

    Senator Landrieu: Let me just say a few things. Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi and Alabama to our help and rescue, we are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist for their efforts, tonight, i don’t know if you have heard. Maybe you have announced it, but congress is going to a session to pass a $10 billion bill tonight to keep FEMA —

    Anderson Cooper: Senator, I’m sorry, I haven’t heard that because for the last four days, I have been seeing dead bodies here in the streets of Mississippi and to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, I have to tell you, there are people here who are very upset and angry, and when they hear politicians thanking one another, it just, you know, it cuts them the wrong way right now because there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman has been laying in the street for 48 hours, and there is not enough facilities to get her up.

  • Maumita Par September 2, 2005, 11:54 AM

    My name is Maumita, I’ve been following your blog for the past few days. I live in Houston and I wanted to let you know that you and/or your friends are welcome to stay with me. If I could go get your friend who is stranded, I would. Apparently nobody except for “official personnel” is being allowed past Lake Charles. If she can make it to Lake Charles, I can pick her up from there. I’ve tried to go volunteer at the Astrodome, but they aren’t in need of any more volunteers right now. Also, if you know any evacuees in Houston who need ANY kind of help, please let me know.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and everyone affected by this tragedy.

  • Karthik R September 2, 2005, 12:42 PM

    The response has been appalling. So called “third world” countries would have done better. I’ve contacted my Senators (California). Not sure what that does — what with all the powers in Republican hands.

    Hope these guys get their act together at least now. Hang in there.

  • oodles September 2, 2005, 12:43 PM

    Wow justjon! I missed that part of Anderson Cooper’s report. I did see him break down a bit, completely understandable.
    Maitri- check out http://www.digitalglobe.com in the larger image version. You can pinpoint buildings and, in some cases, homes and apartments.

  • Paul Orlowski September 2, 2005, 1:00 PM

    It is about time that the troops are on the way in. I understand that local and state governments need to go through all the red tape and officially ask for disaster aid. However, since there was some warning that Katrina would hit New Orleans directly initial steps toward mobilization could and should have taken place much much earlier. In fact, I remember seeing predictions that the storm surge could be around 25 feet and even as much as 28-30 feet if Katrina didnt turn just before reaching land. The antiquated levees would have been topped in any case, nevermind the fact that the levees were only suppossed to be able to hold category 3 hurricane at the most. Yes, city and state planning was not great, but I guess what my point is, is that instead of sitting on vacation, our illustrious President could have authorized FEMA to take preparatory actions. Here’s hoping the government restores order, delivers the necessary aid, and evacuates the citizens sooner rather than later. Everyone in New Orleans and the surrounding gulf areas are in our prayers.

  • brimful September 2, 2005, 2:58 PM

    Jeez… I’ve been to Mother’s. This is killing me, Maitri. Do you have any suggestions on things that the area might need that we can send besides money? I’ve sent monetray donations, but it doesn’t feel like enough. If there is something tangible we can do, please let us know- I think a lot of us would like to do something.

  • Saheli September 2, 2005, 4:36 PM

    Maitri and friends–you might want to take a look at HurricaneHousing.Org.

    Written to the rep & Senators. Donated to the Red Cross. Prayed. Still so angry.

  • Kevin K. September 2, 2005, 11:53 PM

    Tell D, if it comes to it I’m in for the armed boat extraction of Machelle. Who has a boat?

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