Katrina: New Orleans in Anarchy With Fights, Rapes
Apparently, none of New Orleans’ criminals heeded the order to evacuate. In addition to looting, carjacking, random gunfire, we now add rapes to the anarchy that the city has descended into in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
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. “This is a desperate SOS,” mayor Ray Nagin said.
“We are out here like pure animals,” the Rev. Issac Clark said outside the New Orleans Convention Center, where he and other evacuees had been waiting for buses for days amid the filth and the dead.
Four days after Hurricane Katrina roared in with a devastating blow that inflicted potentially thousands of deaths, the frustration 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 to await buses grew increasingly hostile. Police Chief Eddie Compass said he sent in 88 officers to quell the situation at the building, but they were quickly driven back by an angry mob. “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, 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. “Right now we are out of resources at the convention center and don’t anticipate enough buses,” Nagin said in a statement.
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.
Considering that the hurricane hit Monday and the flooding didn’t really start until Tuesday, I would scarcely call the federal response a “national disgrace.”
Indeed, we’ve had many hurricanes and other natural disasters over the couple of decades I’ve been old enough to pay attention and there has been nothing like this in terms of the sheer level of mayhem caused by the citizens themselves. While the flooding has been as large scale a disaster as any I’ve seen in the United States, it is inconceivable how rape, gunplay, and looting are reasonable responses. Nor do I view any of those things as a federal responsibility.