Anger Follows Flooding in Katrina Ravaged New Orleans
New Orleans residents, including the mayor, are lashing out in frustration over the uncertainty of their situation after Hurricane Katrina left the city flooded.
As parts of flooded New Orleans slip into chaos and Gulf Coast communities struggle to deal with the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana’s governor is declaring Wednesday a day of prayer. Officials in New Orleans have not even begun tallying the dead — there hasn’t been time. With waters rising from broken levees, all efforts have been focused on rescuing survivors.
Those survivors are facing dire conditions — no power, little drinking water, dwindling food supplies, gunfire in the distance — with no way to get out. And the waters are still rising, at times dotted by the bodies of those who perished when the hurricane roared into town Monday morning.
Authorities were having to evacuate the thousands of people at city shelters, including the Louisiana Superdome, where a policeman told CNN unrest was escalating. The officer expressed concern that the situation could worsen after three shootings, looting and a number of attempted carjackings during the afternoon.
Anger was rising along with the muddy water in New Orleans. Mayor Ray Nagin on Tuesday night blasted what he called a lack of coordination in relief efforts for setting behind the city’s recovery. “There is way too many fricking … cooks in the kitchen,” Nagin said in a phone interview with WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi. Nagin was fuming over what he said were scuttled plans to plug a 200-yard breach near the 17th Street Canal, allowing Lake Pontchartrain to spill into the central business district.
Frustration was also rising among people who now find themselves refugees in their own city. Thousands of people were being housed in the Louisiana Superdome, where toilets were overflowing and there was no air conditioning to provide relief from 90-degree heat. Nagin estimated the number of people in the Superdome at between 12,000 and 15,000 people as of late Tuesday. He said they could be there for a week unless evacuated sooner. Blanco said officials are making plans to evacuate people from the Superdome and other shelters, but she did not say when that might happen or where they might be taken.
A day after Hurricane Katrina dealt a devastating blow to the Big Easy, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Tuesday night blasted what he called a lack of coordination in relief efforts for setting behind the city’s recovery. “There is way too many fricking … cooks in the kitchen,” Nagin said in a phone interview with WAPT-TV in Jackson, Miss., fuming over what he said were scuttled plans to plug a 200-yard breach near the 17th Street Canal, allowing Lake Pontchartrain to spill into the central business district. An earlier breach occurred along the Industrial Canal in the city’s Lower 9th Ward.
The National Weather Service reported a breach along the Industrial Canal levee at Tennessee Street, in southeast New Orleans, on Monday. Local reports later said the levee was overtopped, not breached, but the Corps of Engineers reported it Tuesday afternoon as having been breached.
But Nagin said a repair attempt was supposed to have been made Tuesday. According to the mayor, Blackhawk helicopters were scheduled to pick up and drop massive 3,000-pound sandbags in the 17th Street Canal breach, but were diverted on rescue missions. Nagin said neglecting to fix the problem has set the city behind by at least a month. “I had laid out like an eight week to ten week timeline where we could get the city back in semblance of order. It’s probably been pushed back another four weeks as a result of this,” Nagin said. “That four weeks is going to stop all commerce in the city of New Orleans. It also impacts the nation, because no domestic oil production will happen in southeast Louisiana.”
Nagin said he expects relief efforts in the city to improve as New Orleans, the National Guard and FEMA combine their command centers for better communication, followup and accountability.
Nagin’s frustration is understandable. Unfortunately, although our ability to respond to natural disasters has improved markedly after lessons learned from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, there is no way to be truly prepared for something like this. The only comparable storm to hit the United States in my lifetime was Hurricane Camille (1969), which I only vaguely remember. And each storm sets off its own rather unpredictable chain of events.
Inmates at a prison in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans have rioted, attempted to escape and are now holding hostages, a prison commissioner told ABC News affiliate WBRZ in Baton Rouge, La. Orleans Parish Prison Commissioner Oliver Thomas reported the incident to WBRZ. A deputy at Orleans Parish Prison, his wife and their four children have been taken hostage by rioting prisoners after riding out Hurricane Katrina inside the jail building, according to WBRZ.
Michelle Malkin has been blogging up a storm on this and other Hurricane Katrina news.