Skip to comments.As Last Refugees Escape, New Orleans Turns to Its Dead
Posted on 09/04/2005 2:45:21 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - As the last weary refugees evacuated from New Orleans, the shattered city drew closer to dealing with its dead, confronting a gruesome landscape of scattered corpses that were expected to number in the thousands.
No one knows how many people were killed by Hurricane Katrina and how many more succumbed waiting to be rescued. But the bodies are everywhere: hidden in attics, floating in the ruined city, crumpled in wheelchairs, abandoned on highways.
Echoing the mayor's prediction, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Saturday she expected the death toll to reach the thousands. And Craig Vanderwagen, rear admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service, said one morgue alone, at a St. Gabriel prison, expected 1,000 to 2,000 bodies.
The last refugees at the Superdome and the convention center climbed aboard buses Saturday bound for shelters, but the dying continued.
Touring an airport triage center, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a physician, said "a lot more than eight to 10 people are dying a day."
Most were those too sick or weak to survive. But not all.
Charles Womack, a 30-year-old roofer, said he saw one man beaten to death and another commit suicide at the Superdome. Womack was beaten with a pipe and treated at the airport center, where bodies were kept in a refrigerated truck.
"One guy jumped off a balcony. I saw him do it. He was talking to a lady about it. He said it reminded him of the war and he couldn't leave," he said.
Three babies died at the convention center from heat exhaustion, said Mark Kyle, a medical relief provider.
But some progress was evident. The last 300 refugees at the Superdome were evacuated Saturday evening, eliciting cheers from members of the Texas National Guard who had been standing watch over the facility for nearly a week as some 20,000 hurricane survivors waited for rescue.
On Sunday, utilities planned to send trucks into the city to assess storm damage for the first time since Katrina struck. Morgan Stewart, a spokesman for electricity provider Entergy Corp., said the National Guard would escort the company's vehicles.
The convention center was "almost empty" after 4,200 people were removed, according to Marty Bahamonde, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Earlier estimates of the crowd climbed as high as 25,000.
Thousands of refugees dragged their meager belongings to buses, the mood more numb than jubilant. Yolando Sanders, who had been stuck at the convention center for five days, was among those who filed past corpses to reach the buses.
"Anyplace is better than here," she said.
"People are dying over there."
Nearby, a woman lay dead in a wheelchair on the front steps. A man was covered in a black drape with a dry line of blood running to the gutter, where it had pooled. Another had lain on a chaise lounge for four days, his stocking feet peeking out from under a quilt.
By mid-afternoon, only pockets of stragglers remained in the streets around the convention center, and New Orleans paramedics began carting away the dead.
The exact number of dead won't be known for some time. Survivors were still being plucked from roofs and shattered highways across the city. President Bush ordered more than 7,000 active duty forces to the Gulf Coast on Saturday.
"There are people in apartments and hotels that you didn't know were there," Army Brig. Gen. Mark Graham said.
The overwhelming majority of those stranded in the post-Katrina chaos were those without the resources to escape - and, overwhelmingly, they were black.
"The first few days were a natural disaster. The last four days were a man-made disaster," said Phillip Holt, 51, who was rescued from his home Saturday with his partner and three of their aging Chihuahuas. They left a fourth behind they couldn't grab in time.
Tens of thousands of people had been evacuated from the city, seeking safety in Texas, Tennessee and many other states.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry warned Saturday that his enormous state was running out of room, with more than 220,000 hurricane refugees camped out there and more coming. Emergency workers at the Astrodome were told to expect 10,000 new arrivals daily for the next three days.
In Washington, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced that more than 10,000 people had been flown out of New Orleans in what he called the largest airlift in history on U.S. soil. He said the flights would continue as long as needed.
Thousands of people remained at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, where officials turned a Delta Blue terminal into a triage unit. Officials said 3,000 to 5,000 people had been treated at the unit, but fewer than 200 remain. Others throughout the airport awaited transport out of the city.
"In the beginning it was like trying to lasso an octopus. When we got here it was overwhelming," said Jake Jacoby, a physician helping run the center.
Airport director Roy Williams said about 30 people had died, some of them elderly and ill. The bodies were being kept in refrigerated trucks as a temporary morgue.
At the convention center, people stumbled toward the helicopters, dehydrated and nearly passing out from exhaustion. Many had to be carried by National Guard troops and police on stretchers. And some were being pushed up the street on office chairs and on dollies.
Nita LaGarde, 105, was pushed down the street in her wheelchair as her nurse's 5-year-old granddaughter, Tanisha Blevin, held her hand. The pair spent two days in an attic, two days on an interstate island and the last four days on the pavement in front of the convention center.
"They're good to see," LaGarde said, with remarkable gusto as she waited to be loaded onto a gray Marine helicopter. She said they were sent by God. "Whatever he has for you, he'll take care of you. He'll sure take care of you."
LaGarde's nurse, Ernestine Dangerfield, 60, said LaGarde had not had a clean adult diaper in more than two days. "I just want to get somewhere where I can get her nice and clean," she said.
Around the corner, a motley fleet of luxury tour buses and yellow school buses lined up two deep to pick up some of the healthier refugees. National Guardsmen confiscated a gun, knives and letter openers from people before they got on the buses.
"It's been a long time coming," Derek Dabon, 29, said as he waited to pass through a guard checkpoint. "There's no way I'm coming back. To what? That don't make sense. I'm going to start a new life."
Hillary Snowton, 40, sat on the sidewalk outside with a piece of white sheet tied around his face like a bandanna as he stared at a body that had been lying on a chaise lounge for four days, its stocking feet peeking out from under a quilt.
"It's for the smell of the dead body," he said of the sheet. His brother-in-law, Octave Carter, 42, said it has been "every day, every morning, breakfast lunch and dinner looking at it."
When asked why he didn't move further away from the corpse, Carter replied, "it stinks everywhere."
Dan Craig, director of recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said it could take up to six months to get the water out of New Orleans, and the city would then need to dry out, which could take up to three more months.
A Saks Fifth Avenue store billowed smoke Saturday, as did rows of warehouses on the east bank of the Mississippi River, where corrugated roofs buckled and tiny explosions erupted. Gunfire - almost two dozen shots - broke out in the French Quarter.
In the French Quarter, some residents refused or did not know how to get out. Some holed up with guns.
As the warehouse district burned, Ron Seitzer, 61, washed his dirty laundry in the even dirtier waters of the Mississippi River and said he didn't know how much longer he could stay without water or power, surrounded by looters.
"I've never even had a nightmare or a beautiful dream about this," he said as he watched the warehouses burn. "People are just not themselves."
Associated Press reporters Kevin McGill, Robert Tanner, Melinda Deslatte, Brett Martel and Mary Foster contributed to this report.
National Hurricane Director had to call Nagin at home Saturday night to plead: "Get people out..."
Knight Ridder Newspapers ^ | Sun, Aug. 28, 2005 | BY MARC CAPUTO, DAVID OVALLE AND ERIKA BOLSTAD
Posted on 09/03/2005 2:14:14 PM CDT by joinedafterattack
MAYOR CRITICIZED EVEN BEFORE LEVY BREAK. National Hurricane Center Director had to call Nagin at home Saturday night to plead: "Get people out of New Orleans." "The criticisms of Nagin came from above as well. Numerous officials urged him to evacuate the city, but he worried about the legality of ordering people out when New Orleans has few safe hurricane shelters. Also, National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield in Miami called Nagin at home Saturday night and told him: Get people out of New Orleans.
''I could never sleep if I felt like I didn't do everything that I could to impress upon people the gravity of the situation,'' Mayfield said. ``New Orleans is never going to be the same.''
When a grim Nagin issued the mandatory evacuation order Sunday, he said: ``We are facing a storm that most of us have feared . . . God bless us.''
"As LAST refugees escape.."
I know I've been getting a much-needed 8 hours of sleep, but I think I would have heard in the hour that I've been up that the NG and CG had abandoned the house-to-house rescue/recovery effort.
Did I miss something?
I think the AP is missing something, not you.
He had some problems last year from the ACLU over an evac order for Ivan. The argument was that if the city orders an evac, it creates a legal obligation to provide transport to anybody without a car. And city-provided transport MUST bring them to a stocked shelter -- can't just transport them out of the path of the hurricane and drop them on the street in Houston
I hear relief supplies are backed up with all the lawyers rushing to the scene. wont be long before the lawsuits and payouts begin
They could've stocked the Convention Center and the Superdome. Or brought them to shelters further north. The governor could've made that happen. But, what am i thinking. The governor can't make anything happen.
It really is pathetic that they couldn't evacuate people to somewhere other than an unprepared death trap. They knew people would likely be stuck there for several days and that it would be hard to reach them after the storm. They could have brought in water, food and portable toilets before the storm hit. It was obvious there wasn't going to be water or sewage after the hurricane. What did they expect was going to happen???
it's interesting that the MSM is trying to inject race into this.like,"most of the victims were black".well DUH! new orleans is 70% black.did they exspect the victims to be chinese?what retards.you'll notice that most of the rescuers are white,and most of the looters are black.of course no one mentions that.i used to live in new orleans.a more corrupt city you will not find.the governor is in charge of the national guard.where was she?the mayor has spent millions of federal dollars practicing for this.where was he?the chief of police had 1500 officers under his control.where was he?we had rudy guliani.he didn't run and hide.he stepped into the breech and let everyone know who was in charge.those democrates won't lift a finger during a crises,then whine that W didn't save them from their own stupidity.si vis pacem,para bellum
IMHO the Weather Channel saved many, many lives.
Jessee Jackassson doesn't like them being called refugees. But that is exactly what they are. Get with it Jessee, Stop reading the bible and start reading the dictioary in your spare time between your race bating blackmail attempts on business.
Etymology: French réfugié, past participle of (se) réfugier to take refuge, from Latin refugium.
When the announcement went out about seeking shelter at the Super Dome, it said to bring enough food and water for 3 days. Since they began arriving on Sunday night, IF they followed instructions, their supplies would have lasted until some time Wednesday. It's not like this was supposed to be a hosted affair. N.O. was merely supplying the locale in which to safely ride out Katrina.
i understand that. i was addressing Nagins excuse that legally he couldn't transport people to a shelter unless it had supplies.
but again this is just his way of CYAing for not using the school buses and city buses to get the people out of harms way.
He will try any excuse and hopes to hit one that the MSM will run with. In the meantime, pass that pipe bro.
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