Angry New Orleans Mayor Says Feds Don't Have A Clue
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Angry New Orleans Mayor Says Feds Don't Have A Clue

Local 6 News | September 2, 2005

The once-glorious city of New Orleans is in ruins and its people in chaos from Hurricane Katrina.

For those who sought refuge in the New Orleans convention center, it became just another part of the nightmare. There are reports of rapes, beatings and fights in the convention center, where at least 15,000 people have sought safety.


Exclusive Audio: New Orleans Mayor Lashes Out

New Orleans mayor issues 'desperate SOS'

Police Chief Eddie Compass said hotels have sent away their tourists and the displaced people are "walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon."

But when he sent in 88 officers to quell the situation at the building, they were driven back by a mob. He said, "They were beaten back within 30 feet of the entrance."

The mayor of New Orleans is seething over what he sees as the government's slow response to his city's disaster.

Ray Nagin went on WWL Radio Thursday night to say the feds "don't have a clue what's going on." He added, "Excuse my French -- everybody in America -- but I am pissed."

Nagin said that there are many drug addicts who are searching for a fix. He said that's why they are breaking into drug stores and hospitals.

"What you are seeing is drug-starving crazy addicts that are wreaking havoc and we don't have the manpower that we can deal with it," Nagin said.

Nagin is angry, and wants people to flood the offices of the president and the governor with letters calling for help. He thinks not enough is being done to help the evacuees. He said that federal officials "don't have a clue what's going on."

"Get off your asses and let's do something and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country," Nagin said. "People are dying. They don't have homes, they don't have jobs. The city of New Orleans will never be the same. And it's time."

The mayor said he needs troops and hundreds of buses to get evacuees out.

He said that it was laughable that some officials had mentioned possibly having school bus drivers brought to New Orleans to help with the evacuation.

"I'm like, 'You have got to be kidding me.' This is a national disaster, get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses to New Orleans," he said. "This is a major, major, major deal."

Nagin accused state and federal officials of "playing games" and "spinning for the cameras." He said he keeps hearing that help is coming, but "there's no beef."

He called for a moratorium on press conferences. He said he doesn't want any more press conferences there until there is actual manpower on the ground helping his city. He said that he is tired of hearing that thousands of troops are on their way because they are just not there.

Earlier, he issued a "desperate SOS" on behalf of the thousands who are stranded at the convention center. He also gave the go-ahead for them to march across a bridge to a dry area of the city and look for whatever relief they could find.

At least seven bodies were scattered outside the convention center. People desperately called for help, chasing after reporters, sometimes pleading and sometimes threatening.

Congress is rushing through an aid package of more than $10 billion and the Pentagon is promising 1,400 National Guardsmen.

Evacuee: It’s Genocide

One evacuee said the victims have been left "like pure animals" with no care.

The New Orleans police chief said 15,000 people are trapped in the city's convention center. And he said some are being raped and beaten.

Alan Gould, a man who is an evacuee inside the convention center, told CNN that women and small children are being raped and killed. He called it genocide.

He said officials keep giving them the runaround, saying "Help is coming. Help is coming. Help is coming." But he said people just keep dying.

A 68-year-old minister who's stranded with thousands of other evacuees at the New Orleans Convention Center said, "We are out here living like pure animals."

The Rev. Isaac Clark said, "We don't have water. We don't have food. We don't have help."

A 23-year-old woman tending to her 4-year-old daughter said, "God is punishing New Orleans" for its corruption and crime.

At least seven bodies were scattered outside the convention center. People desperately called for help, chasing after reporters, sometimes pleading and sometimes threatening.

Louisiana's governor is declaring war on looters and others who've turned the streets of New Orleans into scenes of chaos and fear.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said 300 National Guard troops have arrived in the city fresh from duty in Iraq. She said they "know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will."

The Guard troops are carrying M-16s, which Blanco describes as "locked and loaded."

Within the angry crowds of people trying to flee the city, shooters have targeted police officers, a security person at the Superdome and possibly a military helicopter evacuating hospital patients.

A Louisiana state police commander said many New Orleans officers have quit, saying they weren't going to risk their lives to fight looters.

Meanwhile, evacuees chanted "We want help!" Thursday outside the New Orleans convention center. Many have been there for days, without food, water or sanitary services. At least seven corpses are there as well.

Those at the convention center are increasingly hungry, desperate and tired of waiting for buses to return them to the fresh air of civilization.

As the mayor asked for buses, he also made an apparent effort to defuse what could be an explosive situation. The mayor said people will be allowed to march across a bridge to the city's unflooded west bank, for whatever relief they can find.

At the hot and stinking Superdome, there's a snarl in the effort to evacuate storm evacuees to Houston. More people keep arriving, swelling the number from 20,000 to 30,000. A National Guard captain said people are coming from around the city, hoping to get a ride out of town.

Lines to board buses to Texas stretch for nearly half a mile. Fights are breaking out, and one military policeman was shot in the leg in a scuffle for his rifle.

A New Orleans official is calling the situation a "national disgrace."

Fights and fires have erupted and corpses are openly scattered throughout the city. Rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers have been targeted by gunfire.

National Guard Moves Into Louisiana

The National Guard wants hurricane-ravaged New Orleans to know the cavalry is coming.

Lt. Gen. Steven Blum of the National Guard said 7,000 National Guardsmen are arriving in Louisiana Friday "to save Louisiana citizens."

He said the only thing they'll be attacking is "the effects of the hurricane," but adds they are prepared to "put down" the violence "in a quick and efficient manner."

Blum said a huge airlift of supplies is due Friday, signaling "the cavalry is and will continue to arrive."

The National Guard's assurances come amid stinging criticism from the mayor and others who say the federal government has bungled the relief effort. People haven't had food, water, medicine or power since the storm struck Monday.

Bush: Results Are Not Acceptable

President George W. Bush is admitting efforts to help Hurricane Katrina's victims have fallen short.

Leaving the White House to tour the stricken Gulf Coast, he declared, "The results are not acceptable."

However, Bush is vowing to "get on top of this situation" and to "help people who need help."

Bush is flying to Mobile, Alabama, for a briefing from emergency chiefs, then getting a helicopter tour of flattened coastal communities. He plans to walk through one of the hardest-hit: Biloxi, Mississippi.

But in New Orleans, which has been hit by looting and is mostly under water, Bush will just fly over and land at the airport several miles from the city center.

On departing the White House, Bush said he wants to thank rescue workers for their efforts -- and assure Katrina's victims that the administration "will deploy the assets necessary."

Explosions In New Orleans

A series of explosions has rocked the riverfront a few miles south of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The explosions appeared to come from an area on the east bank of the Mississippi River, near a residential area and railroad tracks. At least two police boats were at the scene.

The first explosion sent flames shooting into the pre-dawn sky. A series of smaller blasts followed and then acrid, black smoke that could be seen even in the dark. The vibrations were felt all the way downtown.

All this has happened amid continuing lawlessness in the city swamped by Hurricane Katrina. The governor has ordered in hundreds of battle-hardened troops just back from Iraq.

Astrodome Declared Full; Evacuees Sent To Other Shelters

After accepting more than 11,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees, officials say the Houston Astrodome is full. So, they've begun sending buses to other shelters in the Houston area.

The total of 11,000 inside the Astrodome is less than half the estimated 23,000 people who were expected to arrive by bus from New Orleans.

Buses that continue to arrive are being sent on to other shelters in the area and as far away as Huntsville, about an hour north of Houston.

Meanwhile, by unanimous consent of those present, the Senate has approved $10.5 billion in aid for the hurricane victims.

The House will meet Friday at noon to speed the measure to President George W. Bush's desk.

A skeleton crew of Senate leaders was all that was needed to speed the measure through by voice vote Thursday night.

Although the Astrodome is full, the state of Texas is rolling out an even bigger welcome mat for evacuees. Officials are agreeing to take another 25,000 displaced residents, bringing the grand total to 73,000.

The cities of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio will become new homes for storm evacuees, many from hard-hit New Orleans.

Already, the Astrodome in Houston and Dallas' Reunion Arena have been converted into giant shelters. Now, a warehouse in San Antonio and its Joe Freeman Arena will also be used to house people.

San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger hopes for a system in which evacuees can get their needs resolved in one central place. He says he hopes to restore "some dignity which these circumstances have taken away from" storm evacuees.

The American Red Cross is also running shelters in other Texas cities.

Doctors Appeal For Help

Doctors at two public hospitals in New Orleans have called The Associated Press to plead for rescue. The physicians say they are nearly out of food and power and have been forced to move patients to higher floors to escape looters.

Dr. Norman McSwain said he and his colleagues at Charity Hospital have turned to The AP as a last resort. McSwain said he tried calling the mayor and the governor, using any "inside pressure" possible, to no avail.

McSwain said there is minimal water. The food amounts to fruit bowl punch. The scene is similar at University hospital.

Another doctor, Lee Hamm, said somehow the two public facilities have been forgotten -- or ignored.

Mississippi Death Toll Hits 126

Mississippi's death toll from Hurricane Katrina has reached 126 as more rescue teams spread out to search for the living.

All along the 90-mile coast, emergency workers are performing the grisly task of retrieving bodies.

Some of the dead are lying on streets and in the ruins of obliterated homes that stretch back blocks from the beach.

Tons of rotting shrimp and chickens blown from containers at a shipping dock were dumped into the water and onto the tattered landscape.

As many as 882,000 homes or businesses are still without electricity. Some won't have power for weeks -- or longer, state emergency officials said.

Even in northern Mississippi, locals and stranded evacuees wait for hours to buy gasoline at upward of $3 a gallon.

There were complaints that a few stations were selling gas for up to $6 a gallon.

Tiny Hamlets Do Nothing But Wait For Help

Some of the places that are worst off after Hurricane Katrina are tiny places with names such as Bond, Thomasville, Maxie and Star.

They're Mississippi hamlets miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. The few people who live amid the pines in the small houses and single-wide trailers are mostly black and poor. They have no food, water, electricity or gasoline after getting a direct hit from Katrina.

Red Cross trucks and the National Guard and the local power trucks are roaring right by. They're heading for places where there are larger numbers of victims.

A woman in Bond saod "people back here are going to starve" if someone doesn't stop soon. In Thomasville, a woman whose family has been cooking meals on a barbecue grill said they're "learning to do without."

Memorable Scenes

A collection of scenes that have amazed, impressed, and horrified us over the past few days:

  • At least seven dead bodies were scattered among the thousands of storm evacuees who'd been waiting for days outside the New Orleans Convention Center. One man, pointing to a dead woman in a wheelchair, said, "I don't treat my dog like that. I buried my dog." An old man lay dead in a chaise lounge in a grassy median, as hungry babies wailed around him.

  • The Coast Guard said that when helicopters tried to take people out of New Orleans hospitals, they were shot at by people demanding that the choppers come to rescue their own family members.

  • In coastal Mississippi, refrigerated mobile morgues cruised around like garbage trucks, picking up bodies left on sidewalks and in front yards. Family members tried to treat the bodies with respect, wrapping them in curtains or sheets they can find in the debris.

  • For those who sought refuge in the New Orleans convention center, it became just another part of the nightmare. Police Chief Eddie Compass said some of the thousands trapped there are being raped, and others beaten. He says hotels have sent away their tourists and are being "preyed upon." The chief says he sent in officers to quell the situation, but they were quickly beaten back by an angry mob.

  • The street outside the New Orleans convention center is choked with dirty diapers, old bottles and garbage, and it smells of urine and feces. People chanted, "Help, help!" as reporters and photographers walked through. The crowd got angry when journalists tried to photograph one of the dead bodies, and covered it over with a blanket. A woman, screaming, went on the front steps of the convention center and led the crowd in reciting the 23rd Psalm.

  • A visiting sheriff's detective from Florida says he saw people wave down a squad car near the convention center last night. The car slowed down, and the crowd swarmed -- causing the officer to drive off and return with other officers. He says the officers told the crowd, "Everybody down, or we're going to shoot" -- and the people scattered.

  • One looter sobbed as she took items from a store's shelves and put them into plastic garbage bags to take to her shelter. She was taking children's clothing and snack foods, but couldn't find any water. Another woman on a bicycle rode up to a drug store and asked if people were being arrested. When told that they weren't, she said she was a diabetic and that she needed test strips.

  • A tourist trapped in a New Orleans hotel says "No one really knows what to do." Susan Dewey says "The people who are left are just going and breaking into stores." She says you see people dragging bags of shoes, then later, "you would see piles of shoe boxes." Dewey thought she'd found a way out when she banded with hundreds of other tourists to hire ten buses for $25,000. But, after waiting hours, they learned government officials had commandeered the buses to evacuate others.

  • There are also acts of kindness. One woman was seen using a broken-up soda carton to fan a woman in a wheelchair, trying to keep her cool. In an apparent bid to lift her spirits, she kept asking the woman if she wanted ice cream, or a cola. Someone commandeered a golf cart from the convention center and drove off, carrying the woman in a wheelchair.

  • For the evacuees arriving at the Houston Astrodome from New Orleans, a shower in one of the stadium's four locker rooms was a welcome relief. But for Audree Lee, it was a relief as well to hear the voice of her teen-age daughter for the first time since the storm. She says she and her daughter both cried, and that the girl asked about her dog. She says, "They wouldn't let me take her dog with me...I know the dog is gone now."

  • Reporters and politicians in the area devastated by the hurricane are being begged by survivors to pass information to their families. Louisiana's Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu had a pocket full of scraps of paper on which he scribbled down phone numbers. This morning, he contacted a woman whose father had been rescued, and told her, "Your daddy's alive, and he said to tell you he loves you." He says the woman started crying and said, "I thought he was dead."

Major Developments

  • The relative calm of night was disrupted early Friday with a series of massive explosions on the riverfront a few miles south of the French Quarter.
  • Congress rushed a $10.5 billion recovery bill to President Bush, who called the relief effort the biggest in U.S. history.
  • Texas agreed to triple to 75,000 the number of evacuees being taken in from Louisiana. Houston officials temporarily stopped admitting people to the Astrodome late Thursday after accepting 11,325. Others will be housed in the adjacent Reliant Center, where the Houston Texans play football.
  • President Bush planned a tour of Gulf Coast communities battered by Hurricane Katrina, a visit aimed at alleviating criticism that he engineered a too-little, too-late response.
  • Asia-Pacific nations - including tsunami-battered Sri Lanka - promised Friday to send money and disaster relief experts to the United States to help deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Lawmakers demanded an investigation into gasoline prices after thousands of motorists called a government hotline to complain of price gouging. The Energy Department reports more than 5,000 calls, though there was no way to immediately determine how many of the allegations were valid.
  • Crude oil prices eased slightly Friday and gasoline futures fell for the first time in a week as several energy facilities on the Gulf Coast resumed operations. Crude oil contracts from November thru February - traditionally high demand months - were all trading above $70 a barrel.
  • The military expects to put 30,000 National Guard troops on duty in the Gulf states as demands grow for more security and relief assistance, officials said.


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911:  The Road to Tyranny