Skip to comments."The Begining of Our Nightmare" -- Personal Account from New Orleans **It's worse than you think!**
Posted on 09/02/2005 2:49:29 PM PDT by Guenevere
This e-mail received in the past hour from a local couple who just escaped from New Orleans. They wanted to stress how poorly Louisiana's Democratic controlled government handled the situation...
My husband and I have an unbelievable story about the situation in New Orleans.
We were stranded tourists that ended up stranded due to Delta canceling our flight on Sunday at 11:25am. That was the beginning of our nightmare.
We were in a city we weren't all that familiar (where are the stores, no local knowledge, no local network) and were unable to leave. I won't spend time discussing having to stay in the midst of a category 4 hurricane (something we would NEVER do, being from Florida and being wise to hurricanes). But what is more upsetting is what happened to us afterwards...........
We were staying in a small hotel 3 blocks off of Canal on Tchopotoulis Street in the Warehouse/Art District. This hotel did not have a generator, nor did it have any provisions for food. We were on our own.
For 2 days, we did our best on the streets trying to scrounge some water and food and tried our best to find out how to get these supplies and more importantly, to get back to the airport when it opened (we were under the false hope that the airport would open and we would somehow fly out when that happened).
Tuesday was the beginning of our delusion fading and the quick realization of what was coming. We saw the looters going into the athletic store on Canal (while Brian Williams was doing a segment for the nightly news) and the police exerted minimal effort to stop this as we came to realize - they had no where to put the looters/criminals. That was probably the first of our realization that those in charge (which still trying to figure out just who is), is not doing anything and planning for anything. There is absolutely NO LEADERSHIP.
But we did our best to endure the heat, no AC, the little food that we could get and talked to as many people as possible to get any information we could. We at least had a hotel room. When ever we asked the National Guard and police where was the help, the water, the food, all they could say was "it is coming" and be happy as we were in the driest part of the city and "the water is coming" (meaning the levy broke).
On Wednesday, we were desperate, out of food, out of water, and could not now flush a toilet. My husband and I set out on our morning walk to Canal Street to see the news media (that was the only way we could learn anything). We realized that there were less people that day. As much as we wanted to leave the media alone to do their job, we were increasingly frustrated as to how they obviously had water and probably food. How come? Where was ours. My husband finally asked one of the crew (no one would even give us eye contact at that point -(Side note - we are in our 40s, white and friendly looking). how they got in - as we were figuring that one of the reasons there was not any support and more supplies was the roads were still down. That guy told us that they drove in from Tampa and they had no problem coming in. Then where are the supplies? Where is the Red Cross?
We were dumfounded, but knew we had to leave as soon as possible - if we had to walk.
We saw some buses at the W Hotel and asked if we could go, we would pay whatever necessary. They were full and were taking guests/families out of the W and the Sheraton hotels. Sorry. What?????? We could not believe this. We ran around and asked the police again when is anyone coming? "They are coming; they are bringing in buses to the Superdome and busing people out to Houston". (We did not go to the Dome as the Mayor said that was for people with special needs and for hotel guests to stay put). But we could now possibly walk there (we still heard there was water up to the dome, but we could go there and wait for buses).
Somewhere around this time, we saw another police person and as a pharmacist I told him I was concerned about the people that were going without meds and I would volunteer to go into the Walgreens on Canal (the looters had already broken into the front part for supplies) and if a police personnel was there I could dispense and emergency supply to anyone showing a Rx bottle with maintenance medications. He said the supplies "are coming". I got very angry and said they need to be here NOW. He asked for a suggestion and I said I already told him mine. He said that would take a lot - we would have to get approval from Walgreens corporate, yada yada. I said, can't you see out here, this is like a 3rd world country. Walgreens won't care; they'd love the publicity (I work for the competitor CVS and I know they would feel the same way). They want patients to have meds. The policeman said even if they could do it, he had no way to get any kind of "approval" for something like that as they all had no communication. What?????????????
We got very annoyed, depressed and made the short trek to the Convention Center to see about any person in charge to see if there was any medical, buses, water, food, etc. We went there and there was NOTHING except for people waiting. We tried to ask for anyone in charge, who knew anything and there was NO ONE. (By the way, the national guardsmen that we had seen earlier that morning, 3 hours later still did not know anything or give us any other information).
We could not believe. But we knew one thing; we were getting out anyway possible. I felt like the people who were going down the steps of the World Trade Center thinking they were really going anywhere when in reality our fate was set and officials had sacrificed all of us left in the city.
We called collect to my mother in law and I unleashed a lot of tears of frustration and she told us some obvious: Look for someone in charge - we did that THERE WAS NO ONE (she did not believe) Ask police and national guard - we did that also - no information
She said buses were coming. I said that was not true - there were no buses, there was NO water, NO food, NOTHING, unlike the TV was showing her of all of the relief that was "coming". Where were they?
She told us to hang in there, she was going to stay glued to the TV and we could call her back.
As prayers were being raised for us, about 45 minutes later we saw some people on the street near a few vehicles (we had already asked everyone that morning near a car if we could pay to go with them, never any room). These people took pity on us and allowed us into their hotel shelter. Come to realize this was the hotel the police had been staying in for the last several days. They had food, water, alcohol, generators. We could not believe our luck. We also could not believe what these people were now telling us about the looters. They were afraid. They also had pistols (I have never seen a pistol in my life). They were awaiting a SUV that a person was letting them take as he was not leaving. They promised us if they had enough room they would take us out of the city. We were elated.
At that point 4-5 policeman came back into get the rest of their clothes and belongings and said, we need to get out of there as the looters (gangs of New Orleans) had gotten guns from a store they broke into and they were coming this way. The policeman said he was getting out of there and would not be coming back as there was nothing they could do. He then asked how many weapons we all had, and for about 12 people there were only 3 guns. He gave the men 2 more guns, a shotgun and a pistol and said we would need it.............
I felt like we were in a Hollywood movie. Not that much longer as we awaited the SUV, another vehicle came and we all knew we needed to be ready to go at any moment. We all piled in the vehicle while the guys stood watch with the guns. We were transported then to another hotel about 2 blocks away. We were hurried out and told that we would not be able to fit into the vehicle they were getting but that we needed to get our names on the list that the guy was taking and we would be bused out. That was fine with us. We did that and within 1/2 hour we were on the bus, and heading out of the city.
I won't describe the looks on the faces of those who saw this bus as they knew someone was leaving and they were not. I was horrified for them. I wanted to let them on as they were walking over the bridge.
We asked where we were going and they told us, Baton Rouge. We got a cell signal and called our mother-in-law to tell her to book our flight on Delta to get out of Baton Rouge.
The bus was paid for by the Marriott Corp who was dedicated to getting their associates and guests out of the city. Rumor is the CEO or Mr. Marriott, or someone high up at Marriott got buses ready on Tuesday and had to get special permission from the governor to allow the buses in. They had to make more than one phone call to make that happen, but that is what they did.
They allowed all of us to stay in the ballroom. We decided to go to the airport and sleep there and hopefully get an earlier flight. That is what we did and we got back into Orlando today at 11am.
We had not been able to hear/see any of the news and were flabbergasted to see the Governor and that woman Senator get on TV and talk about all that they were doing. All of that is hogwash. They aren't doing anything for all those poor people there still in the city and nothing to stop the looting. I believe I saw prior to the hurricane that the Governor could go to the highest level and get the military to come in and take the security over and be in charge of such if she declares it to be at that state. Why has she not done?
We just got back from eating with my in-laws and my mother-in-law told us she frantically started calling everyone she could to get us some help in there. She told us something very scary, on Wed when she was calling at about 10:30am, she actually (you have to know her to know that only she could do this) got to talk to a man with the Red Cross with trucks, supplies, etc in their trucks only awaiting the Governor to allow them to get in.
My husband and I are exhausted as we haven't slept in days and are emotionally drained, but can't help but think if it weren't for the Grace of God and a little good timing, we would still have been there. And today is one more day past and NOTHING HAS CHANGED. SOMETHING IS WRONG. There is no reason they don't have church buses that can come in and get these people, let the Red Cross in, let supplies in, etc..........
Please help them. Call us if you want even more details.
Thanks- God Bless- [name withheld]
Senator- My husband and I are absolutely disgusted with how you and your Governor have allowed such disarray to occur. Not to mention how you've left the tourists there for dead. Oh, yea and your own people who are dying in the streets.
There is NO EXCUSE for not getting reinforcements to the National Guard in earlier knowing the gang like undertones of your violence-tending city.
I remember the day when NOLA was not a favorite of travelers as it was considered "dirty and dangerous". My husband and I love NOLA and met there 16 years ago in college at the Sugar Bowl. We are sickened by what we personally went through and we are even more nauseated by what is happening even a day later as no more help has showed up.
What is the problem? We demand to know. You, your officials, your Governor owe us, your own citizens that you've left for dead an apology.
I couldn't believe what you were saying after not seeing/hearing the TV for over 3 days. I just hope the top of this e-mail that we've e-mailed to anyone who will listen will do some help.
If we lived within 6 hours of NOLA we would call all churches, get buses and drive through your barriers just to get these people OUT> All that FEMA can do later will be done. It is NOW that these people need help, or else who cares how many millions you all get donated.
Or, perhaps, is that the purpose? Are you all doing this for a reason and that is to let attrition happen and then there will be fewer victims to divide the money between. SHAMEFUL
Well, there was some leadership in Louisianna after all, but it was at the corporate, not state or local governmental level...
Absolutely chilling. New Orleans is one of our favorite places to visit. Always stayed in the quarter and just loved to eat, walk and "people watch" during Thanksgiving week when the place was pretty mellow. I am so saddened and so d**n mad at the ineptness of the LA politicians. What a different story if someone like Rudy was in charge. Prayers for all the vicitms and thanks for posting this. God bless your friends.
I, too, used to love the quirky city of New Orleans. That city is gone, and will probably never return.
Best wishes to you and your family.
PING for a real story.
The Governor and Mayor should be strung up.
STINKING RAT LEADERSHIP!!!
Wow, just WOW
Goodness, what can one say after reading that? It's almost like the mayor wants some sort of attrition to happen before letting help in.
Sorry about the confusion.
This is horrifying.
I am ashamed that any city in our great country could sink to this level. Thank you for posting this email. It has the ring of truth.
I'm holding out for the Nostradamus emails to start flooding in.
Now, now. There are people in charge. There's the mayor and the governor.... oh, you're right about no one in charge.
Nah, couldn't be the governor. It had to be Bush. He had the military at the border preventing relief and supplies from entering the city because he hates black people. (sarcasm)
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