New Orleans drowning in death, anarchy
NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday, as corpses lay abandoned in street medians, fights and fires broke out and storm survivors battled for seats on the buses that would carry them away from the chaos. The tired and hungry seethed, saying they had been forsaken.”I’m not sure I’m going to get out of here alive,” said Canadian tourist Larry Mitzel, who handed a reporter his business card in case he goes missing. “I’m scared of riots. I’m scared of the locals. We might get caught in the crossfire.”Four days after Hurricane Katrina roared in with a devastating blow that inflicted potentially thousands of deaths, the frustration, fear and anger mounted, despite the promise of 1,400 National Guardsmen a day to stop the looting, plans for a $10 billion recovery bill in Congress and a government relief effort President Bush called the biggest in U.S. history.
New Orleans’ top emergency management official called that effort a “national disgrace” and questioned when reinforcements would actually reach the increasingly lawless city.About 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at New Orleans convention center grew increasingly hostile after waiting for buses for days amid the filth and the dead. Police Chief Eddie Compass said there was such a crush around a squad of 88 officers that they retreated when they went in to check out reports of assaults.”We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten,” Compass said. “Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon.”A military helicopter tried to land at the convention center several times to drop off food and water. But the rushing crowd forced the choppers to back off. Troopers then tossed the supplies to the crowd from 10 feet off the ground and flew away.
In hopes of defusing the situation at the convention center, Mayor Ray Nagin gave the refugees permission to march across a bridge to the city’s unflooded west bank for whatever relief they could find. But the bedlam made that difficult.”This is a desperate SOS,” Nagin said in a statement. “Right now we are out of resources at the convention center and don’t anticipate enough buses.”At least seven bodies were scattered outside the convention center, a makeshift staging area for those rescued from rooftops, attics and highways. The sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement.
An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.”I don’t treat my dog like that,” 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair.”You can do everything for other countries, but you can’t do nothing for your own people,” he added. “You can go overseas with the military, but you can’t get them down here.”The street outside the center, above the floodwaters, smelled of urine and feces, and was choked with dirty diapers, old bottles and garbage.
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