Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Katrina Encours et Toujours IX

Since Blogspot is too retarded to maintain spaces when one cuts and pastes from yahoo.com, please contact me if you would like a clean copy of this posting. I'm tired of hunting for places to insert spaces because of some corporate nerd's idea of profit maximalization:

It's 5:45 AM and I have to teach this morning, but Iwant to get this out. Most of tonight's postings area backlog of nola.com articles. The old T-P has donea fantastic job of journalism, which I never wouldhave thought they had in them previously. If you'vebeen following them in the past weekend, you canignore a lot of tonight's postings. I'll try to getmore of the backlogged eyewitness reports in tomorrow. Incidentally, today on my flight back to VA I sawsome wonderful reporting in the NYT, which makes methink that something might just be a'changin in thisole land. Let's hope so.First, here's a bit about today's experiencesreturning to my "real job." Before boarding my lastleg in Memphis, I was on the pay phone talking loudly(intentionally enough) about NO with a friend. Itattracted the requisite attention, and it allowed meto vent in front of other Americans who've been to NOonce or twice, and were themselves a bit shocked aboutwhat's come to pass in this past week. I closed thecall with a somewhat garbled, yet emphatic, wish thatBush's bunch sink like a New Orleanian drowning intheir attic. Here's some thoughts to share, before moving on to themedia postings:

A) There's a debate currently raging in the US aboutthe use of the term "refugees" for those folks whohave been forced to leave New Orleans. The consensusopinion right now seems to be that African-Americansare especially upset by this term, and that it'sinsensitive to call US citizens by this moniker whichnormally is used to describe poor third world citizenssuffering from intractable conflict, famine, etc. Asa result, other terms are being used: "evacuees,""displaced," or my personal favorite "clients"(encountered repeatedly in Mt. Hermon, LA onSaturday).I've thought about this semantic debate all week, andI've become convinced that "refugee" is precisely theterm that should be used -- as long as it's used in arace and color blind fashion. Why? The US has a longhistory of creating special terms for groups that forsome reason we want to characterize differently. Examples: Americans aren't "peasants," they're"farmers." Americans haven't a "proletariat," theyhave a "blue collar" class. Americans don't have"villages," they have "small towns." Americans don'thave a "bourgeoisie," they have a "middle class." Americans are never "nationalistic," they're"patriotic." With this "refugee" vs. "evacuee" debate, we're aboutto adopt another ridiculous cliched term that doesn'tdescribe reality, and allows our professionalpropagandists to help us feel better about ourselvesas somehow different from and better than the rest ofthe world. It's all part of the US project toconstruct and maintain an entirely provincial andridiculous -- not to mention endlessly amusing to therest of the world -- vision of AmericanExceptionalism. Let's for once admit the truth -- roughly a millionAmericans just became refugees this week. Of course,by the UN definition of the word, we're all "IDP's"(Internally Displaced Persons), but in the popularimagination, it's correct to call us "refugees." [BTW, while I currently live in VA, this is stillaccurate for my family, so I take the liberty to usethe first person here.]Is "refugee" a term reserved for poor third worldsubalterns, worthy of charity and nothing more (noteven body counts) from exalted American citizens? Perhaps, but only in the imagination of the privilegedand of the Americans, which itself needs to bechallenged. Albert Einstein was a refugee, as wereseveral other famous folks who changed the world. The term "refugee" is not reserved for those fleeingconflict (which itself half applies to the Katrinacatastrophe), but it is also used for those fleeingnatural catastrophes. Just as in the otherinternational cases, there were rich refugees and poorrefugees. The rich refugees often set up shop inParis (White Russians, Armenians, etc.), London(Iraqis, Nigerians, and several dozen othernationalities), NYC, or other desirable spots. Thepoor languished in refugee camps, not a few of whichI've seen in the past 15 years. As a brilliant NYTarticle showed today, the pattern is repeating itselfwith Katrina. The middle class and up are setting upshop in Baton Rouge, driving the real estate pricesway up. The poor are hanging out in 500 sheltersstrung throughout the US. Is that so different fromother catastrophes, manmade or otherwise? I arguenot. We should use the term "refugees" in a race and colorblind fashion, and we should wear it as a badge ofhonor. We should also fling it in the face ofofficial Washington so that they are shamed intoshowering as much federal largesse as they can musterupon us and our region. After all, if we're"evacuees," or "clients," then how are we differentfrom "customers," and what have we got to complainabout?

B) Tonight I saw a Fox reporter named Shepherd onLetterman. He was very articulate, polite, andobviously from a conservative background inMississippi politics. He also was quite affected bywhat he saw in NO last week while hanging out on thetop of I-10's elevated roadway (will any New Orleanianalive today ever drive through that stretch withoutthinking about Katrina? Same goes for the Dome andthe Convention Center). He also was ever so gentlytrying to deflect criticism from the Feds to the localpoliticians. His major point was that local officials didn'tevacuate the New Orleans poor with buses, in otherwords they didn't provide public transportation out ofthe city. In a sense, he was right, and I'll bet youthat shorcoming won't happen again. That said, itshouldn't pass without criticism. There are now wellover 50,000 poor New Orleanians caught in a widespreaddiaspora stretching from Texas to DC and pointsbeyond. Uh, where was Nagin supposed to get enoughbuses to move these people? Where was he supposed toput them, especially considering the great number offalse alarms NO has dealt with in past years? How washe supposed to persuade these folks to leave, when itwas clear that what little they had was on theirproperty, they didn't trust authorities (and whyshould they?), and they also had seen enough falsealarms in their lifetime? Finally, considering howthere are now reports that -- having lost everything-- great numbers of these folks are thinking they'llstick it out where they are, who would have acceptedthem? Could you imagine Nagin saying to the mayors ofregional cities the following: "I, er, have about150,000 really poor folks who need to ride this stormout. Can you take them in? Got any buses?" It'sabsurd for Bush and backers (like Shepherd) -- nomatter how gently -- to suggest that local officialscould have done more. To suggest that locals likeNagin, Broussard, Blanco, and others could have donemore when they always requested more federal fundingfor the levees and wetlands restoration is shameless. That said, next time there may be some buses leavintown...

C) Houston's now starting to wonder what's going tohappen next -- 30,000 new impoverished citizensthinking of staying. No wonder the Houston mayor atsome point last week said something to the effect of:"the Astrodome is not a prison." This is a sign ofthe next stage that will happen -- pressures toreturn. The pressures will come from the hostingcommunities, as well as from the New Orleaniansthemselves. I personally encourage this. There aresome really scary things being batted about concernngbulldozing massive tracts of land and starting over. If (When? It may be inevitable..) they do that, NewOrleans will cease to be different than the rest ofAmerica. The Feds done in Storyville in 1918 (date?)-- they're now gonna gun for the rest. To defend New Orleans, locals must return as soon asthey can. I think those with unflooded houses shouldreturn now to protect their property -- not fromlooters, but from those same callous and clueless FEMAbureaucrats who failed you last week.

D) What's the most popular nickname for NO right now?:Lake George. It's brilliant, and I urge everyone touse it. It parallels Lake Charles, a lake in LA namedafter (another?) failed monarch. When going homeFriday, I flew from Reagan Airport (WashingtonNational to those of us who refuse to surrender thepoint) to George Bush airport, and then drove to LakeGeorge. If that's the only landmark named after thecurrent president, it'd be the correct outcome.

E) On Tuesday or Wednesday, one of the "po folk" atthe Dome said the following: "they'd better dosomething quick, because it's getting medieval aroundhere." Well put (Pulp Fiction reference for those whoaren't familiar).

F) Last week, my (Iraqi) cousin in Baghdad emailed meto ask if our family was allright. He said they wereall quite worried about us. I hadn't heard from himsince May 2003. Mull that one over for awhile.

G) This past week, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, andVenezuela all offered to send in assistance to thehurricane region. Iraq declined to follow suit. Kuwait offered 500 million USD I believe, and Qatar100 million USD. For those of you with a clue aboutinternational politics, mull each of those over for amoment, and why they did so in terms of each country'slocal politics.

Now for some articles. This will be a very longposting, but that's as much to preserve this stuff forpotential future usage as for you to actually try andread today:

1) Here's an example of what FEMA did last week. Iremember in '99 when Istanbul's citizens organizedcitizen flotillas to go across the Marmara to helpearthquake victims in Golcuk, Izmit, and other points. The government didn't even THINK about turning themback. What sort of sick state do we live in here? Ifthe rest of American won't wake up, perhaps at leastLA and MS will. Remember, FEMA is primarily taskedwith setting up the US Government in times of crisis,particularly nuclear crisis. That goes a long way toexplaining their behavior here, as their priorityisn't about actual citizens, or people. It's aboutgovt, sovereignty, and preservation of self. Thisaccount is off of Daily Kos's links:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/3/171718/0826This was posted by a Clarkie over at the SecuringAmerica:Just to give you a sense of just how badly FEMA hasf*cked up.Posted by Clark Warner on September 3, 2005 - 2:23pm.This is beyond my comprehension and after spending twofrustrating days trying to just get someone to let ushelp we've FINNALLY been told we can conduct"renegade" boat rescues via the just concluded pressconference that Gov. Blanco just held.Why is this JUST NOW being allowed? Well let's startfrom the very beginning.On Wednesday morning a group of approximately 1,000citizens pulling 500 boats left the Acadiana Mall inLafayette in the early morning and headed to NewOrleans with a police escort from the Jefferson ParishSheriff's Department. The flotillia of trucks pullingboats stretched over FIVE miles. This citizen rescuegroup was organized by La. State Senator, NickGautreaux from Vermilion Parish. The group wascomprised of experienced boaters, licensed fishermenand hunters, people who have spent their entire adultlife and teenage years on the waterways of Louisiana.The State Police waved the flotillia of trucks/boatsthrough the barricades in LaPlace and we sped into NewOrleans via I-10 until past the airport and near theClearview exit. At that time we were stopped by agentsof the FEMA controlled La. Dept. of Wildlife &Fisheries.A young DWF agent strolled through the boats and toldapproximately half of the citizens that their boatswere too large because the water had dropped duringthe night and that they should turn around and gohome.They were pulling a large (24ft) shallow draftaluminum boat that can safely carry 12 passengers andhad ramp access which would allow the elderly andinfirm to have easier access to the boat. They thenpolitely informed the DWF agent that the local andnational media had consistently reported that thewater level had risen during the night whichcontradicted his statement to them that the water wasdropping and no boat over 16ft. in length would beallowed to participate in rescue operations.They then specifically asked the DWF agent that they(and other citizens in the flotillia) be allowed to goto the hospitals and help evacuate the sick and thedoctors and nurses stranded there. They offered tobring these people back to Lafayette, in our ownvehicles, in order to ensure that they received properand prompt medical care.The DWF agent did not want to hear this and orderedthem home -- ALL FIVE HUNDRED BOATS. They compliedwith the DWF agent's orders, turned around and headedback to Lafayette along with half of the flotillia.However, two friends were pulling a smaller 15ftalumaweld with a 25 hp. The DWF agents let themthrough to proceed to the rescue operation launchsite.They were allowed to drive to the launch site wherethe FEMA controlled La. Dept. of Wildlife andFisheries were launching their rescue operations (viaboat). They reported to me that there were over 200DWF agents just standing around and doing nothing.They were kept there for approximately 3 hours. Duringthat time they observed a large number of DWF agentsdoing absolutely nothing. Why? Because FEMA would n otlet them HELP! After three hours had passed they weretold that they were not needed and should go home.They complied with the DWF's orders and turned aroundand went home to Lafayette.Watching CNN later that night, there was a telephoneinterview with a Nurse trapped in Charity Hospital inNew Orleans. She said that there were over 1,000people trapped inside of the hospital and that thedoctors and nurses had zero medical supplies, nodiesel to run the generators and that only threepeople had been rescued from the hospital since theHurricane hit!I can't come up with one logical reason why the DWFsent this large group of 500 boats/1000 men home whenwe surely could have rescued most, if not all, of thepeople trapped in Charity Hospital. Further, we hadthe means to immediately transport these people tohospitals in Southwest Louisiana.On Tuesday afternoon, August 30, Jefferson ParishSheriff Harry Lee asked for all citizens with boats tocome to the aid of Jefferson Parish. A short timelater Dwight Landreneau, the head of the La. Depart.of Wildlife and Fisheries, got on television andremarked that his agency had things under control andcitizen help was not needed. Apparently, Sheriff Leedid not agree with that assessment and had one of hisdeputies provide the Lafayette flotillia with anescort into Jefferson Parish. Sheriff Lee and Senator Gautreaux - 1000 ofLouisiana's citizens responded to the public's pleasfor help. They were prevented from helping by DwightLandreneau's agency, the Department of Wildlife andFisheries which had been taken over by FEMA. When Ilearned that Charity Hospital has not been evacuatedand that no one has been there to attempt a rescue, Ibecame angry.It was because of this that my friend and I have beentrying launch boats both yesterday and today but to noavail. It looks like FINALLY the Governor has justsaid SCREW FEMA, get those boats in the water and helpsave my citizens.So I think we'll be in the water tomorrow to help butfor now I'm immensely frustrated.If there is anyone on the CCN that is in the BatonRouge area we are meeting today at the LA State DemParty HQ at 2pm CST to game out tomorrow.

1a) The Broussard interview was one of the mostcompelling moments to the Katrina disaster so far --he was sobbing uncontrollably as he told the storyrelated below: http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09.html#076464La. and New Orleans officials sound offThey feel abandoned by federal governmentBy Bruce AlpertWashington bureauWASHINGTON – The nation heard emotional appeals forhelp from New Orleans area officials who appeared onthe Sunday national talk shows to say they feltabandoned by their federal government with deadlyconsequences for their constituents."Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one ofthe worst storms ever to hit an American coast, butthe aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as oneof the worst abandonments of Americans on Americansoil ever in U.S. history," Jefferson Parish PresidentAaron Broussard said on NBC-TV’s "Meet the Press."On ABC-TV’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos,"Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she broke down intears as she looked down at the breached 17th StreetLevee from a helicopter Saturday and saw only a singlecrane working on repairs. There was a lot more activity the day before, whenPresident Bush toured the area, she toldStephanopoulos, making it seem like a photo opdesigned to show more being done than really was, shesaid."There is such suffering and devastation," Landrieusaid on ABC. "It is mind-boggling to everyone inLouisiana, including myself, why the president did notsend forces earlier."On CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," Reps.William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, and Bobby Jindal,R-Kenner, complained about bureaucracy preventingvolunteers and other help from getting into NewOrleans to relieve the suffering by those trappedwithout water and food in the Superdome and ConventionCenter.It was Democrat Broussard who used the most heatedrhetoric, accusing the federal bureaucracy of "murder"for not rushing help in sooner, and for blockingvolunteers and offers of food and water from Wal-Martand other sources, from reaching trapped constituents.He spoke about the manager of the Jefferson Parishemergency building and his futile efforts to get themanager’s mother rescued from a flooded St. Bernardnursing home."His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing homeand every day she called him and said, ‘Are youcoming, son? Is somebody coming?’ And he said,‘Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody'scoming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to getyou on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you onThursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday.’ And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Fridaynight."Jefferson, appearing on "Face the Nation," said hewasn’t sure the slow government response had anythingto do with the large number of African-Americans stuckin the Superdome and the Ernest N. Morial ConventionCenter, as some fellow members of the CongressionalBlack Caucus suggested."We have a lot of working poor people who just had tomake, you know, very difficult choices, as they doevery day, about how to survive through this process,"Jefferson said. "And in some cases, the choices theyhad to make at the end of the month, there's no money.You know, what do you do? Can you go out and buy ahotel room or pay for the trip? It's just impossible,massive problems. And many of them stayed, andconsequently, they were there as victims in this thingmuch more than anyone else." The initial response from the federal government, hesaid, wasn’t "so much attributable to the fact thatthe folks left behind were the poorest and they wereAfrican-American." Rather, he said, it was a case ofthe government not "stepping up to do its job." Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who last week said he wouldgive the federal government a grade of F for itshandling of the hurricane problems, said that with thearrival this weekend of thousands of troops, bothactive duty and reserves, along with tons of food,water, medicine and other assets, the rescue efforthas "finally turned around." But he said that there is plenty of blame to be spreadamong state and federal Emergency management Agencyofficials who at times were "too bureaucratic,"instead of responding as they should have by droppingthe rulebooks and rushing to get as many resourcesinto metro New Orleans as possible." He was to appearon "Fox News Sunday," but was a late scratch becauseof a quickly scheduled segment on the death Saturdaynight of Supreme Court Chief Justice WilliamRehnquist. The Louisiana political leaders appearing on theSunday news shows weren’t the only ones giving theBush administration a hard time. On "Face the Nation,"moderator Bob Schieffer asked Homeland SecuritySecretary Michael Chertoff about what he called theclear lack of preparation by the federal government."It's a hard question to ask because I know you're inthe middle of an emergency, but aren't you going tohave to put some new people in place down there? Itseems to me that this has just been a total failure,"Schieffer said. Chertoff said that the country wasn’t unprepared, butfaced unprecedented challenges with such a huge storm,followed by flooding caused by a levee breach. On theobvious failure of the lack of food and water forpeople trapped in the New Orleans Convention Center,he said state and city officials had left theimpression that all the activity was in the Superdome.It would be a big mistake, Chertoff said, to begin theinvestigations and fact-finding while so much rescueand recovery work remains to be done. There will beplenty of time to assess blame for failures and creditfor successes, he said."It would be a tragic shame if by changing our focus,we failed to focus on what we need to do goingforward," Chertoff said. Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who participated in rescueefforts in New Orleans, seemed to agree with Chertoffduring his segment on "Face the Nation.""What we're trying to do right now in the water, onthe ground (is) to save as many people as we can. Andquite frankly that discussion (of blame for the poorinitial response) is getting in the way. What wereally need to be about is getting people out of thewater, getting people safe, and then in these centerswhere all of our citizens are, many of our friends andrelatives and neighbors, make sure they have what theyneed to get back to some semblance of life." During her helicopter tour of the New Orleans areawith an ABC news crew, Sen. Landrieu noted that therehas been a lot of finger-pointing, includingsuggestions that New Orleans made a mistake toevacuate inmates from its jail before rescuingcitizens clinging to life in their attics androoftops. If the inmates had gotten out, it would havemade the security situation in New Orleans far worse,she said.And than she let out with some pure emotion. "And if one person criticizes them or says one morething, including the president of the United States,he will hear from me. One more word about it, afterthis show airs, and I, I might likely have to punchhim. Literally."

2) Nagin repeats his requests today:http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09.html#076464City must overcome disaster, mayor saysNagin: Response still isn't enoughBy Doug MacCashStaff writerViewed from the windows of a low-flying Blackhawkhelicopter, the scope of Hurricane Katrina'sdestruction becomes clearer. The Causeway is like abroken spine, large sections of roadway listingdisconcertingly into the brown water of LakePontchartrain. The modest homes in the Lower 9th Wardhave been uprooted and are crushed together in clotslike bumper cars. Pyramid-shaped rooftops are all thatcan be seen of many suburban-style houses in theLakeview neighborhood. And the expanses of small treesthat line the coastal wetlands of eastern New Orleanshave been bent to the ground and combed precisely inone direction that marks the path of last week'sferocious wind. Nothing is right. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin knew that's what he wouldfind when he conducted a helicopter survey Saturday ofthe city, a grim tour that graphically exposed membersthe national and local press to the destruction he'scome to know well. The copter turned slow circles overthe sky like a buzzard over the still-breached 17thSt. Canal levee and twice paused in flight over NewOrleanians who were still stranded. Nagin droppedwater and a ready-to-eat meal to one of them. Preparing for the flight, Nagin was in a more sedatemood than he was during an expletive-ridden televisioninterview Thursday, when he railed against theplodding federal and state relief efforts, accusedPresident Bush and Gov. Kathleen Blanco of posturingfor political advantage at a time of acute need, andburst into tears -- not that the situation in thedrowning, crippled city had much improved. "When I woke up this morning," Nagin said, "I turnedmy radio off. I just couldn't digest any more badnews." Bush was forgiving of Nagin's tirade when they metFriday, Nagin said. "He said, 'Look, I know you saidlots of things. We could have done better. I can'targue. Let's deal with the future.' ... Mr. Bush wasreally, really concerned." Blanco, too, understood his anger, Nagin said. "I toldthe president and her, 'I kind of lost it. But putyourselves in my shoes. If I said anything offensive,I apologize.' ... But then I immediately went on totell them what I need." Nagin may have mended his fences politically, but hesaid he still believes the situation is being poorlyhandled. "We're still fighting over authority," hesaid. "A bunch of people are the boss. The state andthe federal government are doing a two-step dance. "Itold the president, 'I'm into solutions. If the stategovernment can't take responsibility, then you takeit.' ... I think it's getting better, but the pace isstill not sufficient.'" Some observers have said that because the majority ofstorm evacuees are black, the lethargic disasterresponse has a racist component. But Nagin cast thecolor issue in another light. "I think it's more aclass issue than race," he said. "The Superdome hadmostly poor people in distress. The rich haveresources the poor don't. The Convention Center wasdifferent. There the poor were mixed with people fromhotels and predators. You had blacks, Hispanics,Asians. The predators in there didn't care. When thosestories come out, like children raped, with theirthroats cut, then somebody's got to answer." Nagin's ire began to rise anew as he recalled a foiledstrategy to send able-bodied refugees over theCrescent City Connection to the high ground of theWest Bank. "We were taking in people from St. Bernard Parish," hesaid. "If we had a bottle of water, we shared it. Thenwhen we were going to let people cross the bridge,they were met with frigging dogs and guns at theGretna parish line. They said, 'We're going to protectJefferson Parish assets.'"Some people value homes, cars and jewelry more thanhuman life. The only escape route was cut off. Theyturned them back at the parish line." Nagin said that in order to cope with the alwaysfrustrating, sometimes overwhelming situation he hastried to "stay in the moment," dealing as best he canwith each individual issue as it arises: a policeofficer's report that a large number of elderly peoplewere stranded near Lee Circle; the sight of refugeescontinuing to gather on the city's raised highways.Nagin recalled with special dismay having recentlybeen told that a New Orleans police officer committedsuicide during the storm's aftermath. "I asked my people to get in touch with the LSUdepartment of psychiatry," he said. "The police areholding the situation together with Band-Aids. We haveto let them get three to five days off."As the Blackhawk coursed over the city, Nagin and theother passengers pointed out familiar landmarks madeunfamiliar by the storm. The city was largely ruined.It would be as difficult to restart as the thousandsof automobiles submerged in the murky water below. ButNagin insisted it must be restarted, no matter what. "I think I'm here for a reason: to rebuild," he said."New Orleans is the soul of the country. It's theplace jazz comes from. It has Mardi Gras Indians thatnobody else has. It's a place where a chef can take apiece of fish and make it into a masterpiece. We don'teven think about not rebuilding Miami. We don't thinkabout rebuilding Los Angeles, and they're on a faultline. We just do it. We don't talk about it. I don'twant to talk about that foolishness."

3) I feel absolutely awful for Chalmette, as well asfor the rest of St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. They got hit really badly, probably the worst of all:http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09.html#076464Those rescued in St. Bernard emerge with harrowingtalesSearch teams still find people who remained By Jan Moller and Paul RiouxStaff writersCHALMETTE - Terry Hendrix's family evacuated beforeHurricane Katrina struck this close-knit communitywith a devastating blow, but Hendrix himself decidedto try weathering the storm at his three-story houseon Riverland Drive. On Saturday afternoon, five days after the winds dieddown, Hendrix found himself at the parking lot of whatused to be a BellSouth building, but which now hasbeen taken over by firefighters giving decontaminationshowers to people rescued from their homes. Although floodwaters have receded more than 15 feetand the pace of the evacuation has slowed considerablyin St. Bernard Parish, search teams were still findingpeople who had remained in their homes. "I've got 122,000 people in my district, andeverybody's been affected (by Hurricane Katrina),''said state Sen. Walter Boasso, R-Chalmette, who hasbeen helping coordinate rescue efforts. Horrific stories continued to pour in from survivors,who were being rescued at a rate of about 20 per hourSunday. Arabi resident Patrick Lannes, who helped evacuate 17people from the second floor of Arabi ElementarySchool, said he found them eating a raw turkey thathad been sitting out for four days. "One woman told her husband, 'Oh, honey, give him aCoke,'" he said. "They're eating rotting meat, andthey offered me their last Coke like I was a guestjust stopping by for dinner." Fire Chief Thomas Stone said there have been 70confirmed deaths in St. Bernard Parish so far. He saidthe final toll will be much higher, but he declined togive an estimate. He said a military unit that specializes in handlingmass casualties will recover the bodies. "I don't want my people pulling out their own familyand friends," he said. Among the dead are 31 senior citizens who died at St.Rita's Nursing Home due to flooding, and another 22people were discovered dead in a Violet subdivision,their bodies bound together., Sheriff Jack Stephenssaid. But it is too soon to start an official count,Stephens said, while rescue efforts continue. "We arenot in a body recovery mode yet,'' he said. Search teams from as far away as Canada - theVancouver province sent 47 rescuers who arrivedThursday - ride air boats through receding waters in aparish that's become a virtual ghost town except forthe rescue workers. They conduct house-to-housesearches for anyone who might still be alive. Whenthey have finished searching a building, they leave aspray-painted marker to indicate whether anyone wasfound. An "X'' means the house was empty. A number indicateshow many bodies were discovered. On one house, just ablock from the Bell South building where evacuees arebeing taken for decontamination before beingtransported to the slip, a blue-painted "6'' tells thegruesome tale of what became of those inside. Those plucked from their homes emerged with harrowingtales. Hendrix, 55, said he retreated to a third-floorbathroom in his home during Katrina when thefloodwaters rose to his second-story balcony. Butshortly thereafter, winds from the storm began liftingthe roof from his house. That forced him back to thesecond floor, where he spent several days in threefeet of water. Although he rode out the storm by himself, eventuallythe house became a gathering point for neighbors - 18of whom shared the cramped quarters at one point,Hendrix said. "I was the highest point in theneighborhood,'' he said. As several days passed with little or no federalassistance, state and local officials set up their ownimprovised search-and-rescue operations, with theMississippi River serving as a lifeline to safety forresidents who rode out Katrina. People found wading through the floodwaters, which bySaturday had become nearly black in color and smelledlike a mixture of sewage and rotten fish, are firsttaken to the BellSouth parking lot to shower under ablue tarp. After that school buses take them to "CampKatrina'' as the Chalmette slip has been dubbed byrescue workers. From there they are taken by ferryabout five miles upriver to Algiers Point, where theU.S. Coast Guard shuttles them onto shelter-boundbuses. St. Bernard officials said that at some points lastweek the slip was home to as many as 3,000 evacuees atone time, but by Saturday afternoon the traffic hadslowed to a trickle. Only a few local police andvolunteers were there, surrounded by pallets of waterand other basic necessities. The unprecedented mobilization of resources has forcedlocal authorities to improvise. Firefighters work from the BellSouth building, theparish council set up temporary quarters at theExxon-Mobil Chalmette Refining, and the sheriff'soffice is operating from the Cajun Queen riverboatthat's moored next to the Domino's sugar refinery inArabi. The courthouse, where some parish officials arestaying overnight, is littered with boats that werebeing used for rescue and transportation while theflooding was at its worst. State Rep. Nita Hutter, R-Chalmette, said she was atthe parish government building when the storm struck,but was forced to evacuate by boat Tuesday whenconditions there became "intolerable.'' And the local prison was turned into a makeshiftmedical center until the wounded and sick could beflown to safety, according to Boasso. Stephens said the rescue operation at the slip likelysaved many lives. "Had we not had this area to stagethis, there would have been literally hundreds morepeople dead from exposure,'' he said. Stephens said he faces more life-or-death decisionseach day than he did in his previous 20-plus years assheriff. "You save the people you can, and then you move on,"he said. "But at the end of the day, you are hauntedby visions of the people you couldn't help - the ladywho grabbed my ankles and said, 'Sheriff, can you giveme a bottle of water?' All I could tell her was, 'I'msorry.'" Illness and mental fatigue have prompted Sheriff JackStephens to grant leaves to 30 deputies, leaving himwith a force of about 75, who have been working up to20 hours a day. Three dozen firefighters were sent toBaton Rouge to rest Saturday, replaced by 30 EastBaton Rouge firefighters. Although the parish is desperate for reinforcements,Stephens has been turning away citizen volunteers,saying he doesn't want to risk a friendly fireincident as deputies begin removing the remainingresidents by force if necessary. Although Navy helicopters were shuttling medicalevacuees from the Chalmette slip, local officials wereangry Saturday at the slow pace of the federalgovernment's relief efforts. "We never had anycommunication from anybody,'' said Parish PresidentHenry P. Rodriguez. "Anything that has been done inSt. Bernard has been done by local people.We never hadany goddamned help.'' At Algiers Point, the ferry landing was home to abouta hundred people Saturday morning. They came from asfar away as Caernarvon in lower St. Bernard, where thefloods engulfed just about every home and those whostayed behind relied on neighbors for support - whichsometimes brought surprising levels of comfort. JoAnn Robin said she spent four days after Katrinacamped out with 25 of her family members in theMandeville Canal at Elevating Boats Inc., the companyfounded by former state Sen. Lynn Dean, R-Caernarvon. Robin said she stayed at home in Caernarvon, where herblock as Katrina blew through, but decided to evacuatea few miles west to Poydras, where they found shelteron the second floor of the Green Store. When thefloodwaters there began to rise, the family got inboats and navigated their way to the elevated boats. While her home and those of her neighbors sat in waterup to their rooftops nearby, Elevated Boats hadair-conditioning, a working television and radio andplenty to eat and drink courtesy of Dean and hisfamily. "They treated us like royalty,'' Robin said. Like many others, Robin said she planned to go backonce the water is gone. "There's four generations thatlive on the same street together,'' on DeogracasStreet. "We've never lived anywhere else.'' It's that type of closeness that officials say mayhold the best hope for St. Bernard's rebirth. Once floodwaters recede, the parish likely will hire acontractor to oversee clean-up efforts, Stephens said.After giving residents time to remove any salvageablepossessions, crews would bulldoze condemned homes andrip drywall and carpeting from those that can berepaired. Storm debris would be hauled to temporarylandfills along with ruined cars, which would becrushed after gasoline, oil and other engine fluidswere removed, Stephens said. "The key will be to get people from St. Bernard in assubcontractors and put them to work," he said. "It'sthe only way to start getting the economy goingagain." Staff writer Marr Brown contributed to this report.

3a) Chalmette again:http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09.html#076464St. Bernard rescuers find horrific sites31 dead in nursing home; man found with dead family By Paul Rioux and Manuel TorresSt. Bernard bureau As the last of the stranded St. Bernard Parishresidents were rescued and evacuated, parish officialson Saturday turned their attention to recoveringbodies, draining water and contaminated muck from thearea, and dealing with looters and other criminals whoSheriff Jack Stephens said would be shot ifencountered by police. Finally reaching areas that had been renderedinaccessible by as much as 12 feet of water, rescuersfound horrific sites, including a nursing home where31 residents were dead and a man who spent days in theattic with members of his family, all of whom weredead. Parish officials estimated that more than 6,000 peoplehad been evacuated from St. Bernard since rescueefforts began Tuesday. Several hundred remain in theparish, not all of them law-abiding, officials said. Stephens said he has ordered his officers to usedeadly force to deal with the looters. "We are in an absolute shoot-to-kill mode," Stephenssaid Saturday to his team gathered aboard thecommandeered Cajun Queen. "Anybody who presents aclear danger is to be shot." By Saturday evening no shots had been fired. Stephens estimated the death toll to be in thehundreds. Twenty-two bodies were found tied togetherin Violet, which along with the rest of St. Bernardwas one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.Officials said the 22 victims apparently had tiedthemselves together in a desperate attempt to survivethe storm. While the sheriff fears the death toll will be high,he said the actual number of deaths may never be knownbecause some bodies might have washed into canals andother bodies of water. Stephens said he personally hadwatched two bodies float away. For every few people rescued, another one or two havebeen found dead, officials said. Rescuers reached St.Rita’s nursing home in Poydras to find 31 dead intheir beds. Another 50 were rescued alive from thehome but were in poor condition. One rescue team founda man sticking out of an attic, hollering for help.Volunteer rescuer, Patrick Lannes of Arabi, said theman yelled to them, "You have got to get me out here;my whole family is dead in here with me.’" The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office was handlingthe mayhem with little federal aid, thoughinternational aid arrived in the form of 47 Canadiansearch and rescue specialists Thursday, officialssaid. Some state Wildlife and Fisheries officers alsowere helping with the rescue effort, and dozens ofvolunteers came to the parish in boats to do anything,from clearing off the river levees to delivering waterand other supplies. But there were few NationalGuardsmen in the parish. "We didn’t have any goddamn help," Parish PresidentHenry "Junior" Rodriguez said. "You would think ifthose assholes didn’t get any communications from usthat they could figure out that we needed help." Despite being recently released from the hospitalafter a three-month Stay following gallbladdersurgery, Rodriguez has remained in the parish, as wellas many other parish officials - most of them stayingin the courthouse. As the rescue effort wrapped up, other problemsmounted. An oil leak at the Murphy Oil refinery in Meraux wasseveral inches deep on top of the floodwaters. Fumesfrom the leak were overwhelming, officials said.Refinery officials were attempting to find the sourceof the leak and fix it. The smell of the oil mingled with the stench of thesewage-laden waters, which were receding about sixinches to a foot a day. Sections of Judge Perez andSt. Bernard highways were dry, but litter, debris andboats surrounded the businesses along them. In back of the Lexington Place subdivision in Meraux,raging flood waters had lifted homes, foundation andall, and thrown them against neighboring homes. And where the land was dry, insurgents took hold. Inthe sheriff’s Verret substation, a group of what hecalled "known criminals" took hold until a helicopterflyby scared them off. "This is a catastrophe of biblical proportions,"Stephens said. "Stephen King couldn’t write a scriptlike this."

4) This is about the military presence in NO. Basically, they're militarizing the whole thing, whichis not the only way to do this. http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09.html#076464Military presence isn’t martial lawActive military used in humanitarian roleBy Susan FinchStaff writer Martial law isn’t a law at all.But the term has been invoked over and over in theweek since Hurricane Katrina struck to describe theenhanced authority assumed by public officials,restrictions on access to some public streets and thepresence of armed federal soldiers roaming parts ofthe New Orleans area.Some public officials do invoke extraordinaryauthority during emergencies, under a 12-year-oldLouisiana law. But the presence of active-dutymilitary personnel does not mean martial law has beendeclared.The role of the active military thus far has been tohelp the Federal Emergency Management Agency withhumanitarian work, search and rescue efforts, medicalassistance and supply distribution – not to enforcecivil law, a military spokesman said.The National Guard is trying to enforce civil law inthe hurricane zone. It was pressed into service byGov. Kathleen Blanco.A true state of martial law would also put the activemilitary in a law enforcement role. That rarelyhappens. Martial law was declared during labor strikesin the early 20th century and during the Watts riotsof 1965 in Los Angeles, said John Baker,constitutional law professor at Louisiana StateUniversity.At all other times, the U.S. system of government isset up to give the states and their own police theprimary responsibility to protect residents, with thefederal government being called on only as a backupwhen a state is overwhelmed."If a governor will call and say, ‘I no longer havethe ability to secure my state, I need help,’ thepresident could invoke the Insurrection Act and themilitary could assist in law enforcement activities,"said a U.S. Northern Command lawyer who spoke on thecondition that he not be identified. "That is not whatwe are doing."Baker said martial law is not a written law but hasbeen recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as a legalconcept. "It’s a suspension of law, and the term goes way backand it’s linked to what is called the law ofnecessity," doing what is necessary in extremesituations, Baker said. "The question is whether,quite apart from law, there is inherent power to thosecharged with order in the community to keep it fromdescending into chaos and insurrection."What is written is the Louisiana Homeland Security andEmergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993. Underthe law, the governor and some top parish officials,including Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard,have the right to commandeer private property ifnecessary to cope with an emergency. Specificofficials may also suspend any law related to theconducting of official business or any rule previouslyissued by a state agency if complying would "prevent,hinder or delay necessary action" to mitigate theemergency, the state attorney general’s office saidlast week.The law also gives certain officials the right tocompel evacuations, suspend alcohol and weapon salesand make provisions for emergency housing, the officesaid.Mayors assume similar authority, although not theright to commandeer private property or arrangeemergency housing, the office said.Blanco invoked the 1993 law when she declared a stateof emergency last week. Broussard himself hasdescribed Jefferson as being "under martial law, andthere’s only one marshal: Me."Broussard has announced that Jefferson Parish isclosed to all residents and visitors. Police have beenstaffing roadblocks on highways entering the parish.Despite widespread criticism from other publicofficials and utility companies, Broussard plans tolet residents return Monday for a brief time but willorder them out again until streets are clear, power isrestored and the water supply made safe for drinking.Baker said Louisiana must take care not to "fall intothe notion that you look first and primarily to themilitary to run things."The military are not police officers generally; theirjob is to fight a war. That’s totally different from apolice function unless people want to turn thiscountry into other countries where you have themilitary running the police force, which you did inCentral America."Print Send To A Friend Permalink (Learn More)

4a) Death toll numbers begin to trickle inForensic team faces challenge identifying victims ofhurricane By Laura MaggiStaff WriterBATON ROUGE - In the first announcement of what willundoubtedly be a growing tally of the people killed byHurricane Katrina and its devastating aftermath,officials said Sunday that 59 bodies were in a statemorgue and had been confirmed to have died fromstorm-related causes. Health officials would not say how high they expectedthe death toll to go, but Gov. Kathleen Blanco and NewOrleans Mayor Ray Nagin have both said repeatedly thatthey expect it to be in the thousands. Local officials have said there are about 100 bodiesat a wharf in St. Bernard Parish, but the state hasnot confirmed those deaths, said Louis Cataldie,medical director for emergency operations for thestate Department of Health and Hospitals.Cataldie said any death that investigators determinewould not have occurred if not for Hurricane Katrinawill be attributed to the storm. "If you are on arespirator at home and the electricity goes out, youare a hurricane death," he said.But people whose deaths are classified as murder -even if it occurred during the storm or the chaoticfollowing days - will not be identified as hurricanedeaths. Local coroners will be brought in toinvestigate those deaths, said Cataldie. People who had identification on them when they died -such as most hospitable patients - will be easy forstate officials to identify and notify family members,he said. But others, such as bodies that have beenfished out of the floodwaters, could prove to be moreof a challenge. Because dental records and other key medicalinformation may also have been lost during the storm,the process could rely heavily on the moretechnologically sophisticated methods used by theDisaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, an agencybrought in by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.For example, the mortuary team, which is often knownby its acronym DMORT, can take a hairbrush brought inby a family member to see if the DNA matches any ofthe unidentified bodies at the morgue. The morgue, which will be run by the federal team, hasbeen set up at St. Gabriel, a town near Baton Rouge.Three DMORT teams were brought in to deal with theaftermath of the hurricane, including various forensicexperts, funeral directors, death investigators andcoroners, said Todd Ellis, the leader of the localregional unit. Local emergency workers will be charged withcollecting dead bodies and bringing them to acollection point, where team members will collectpreliminary information, such as any identificationrecords, and gather personal effects. "From that point, we as DMORT teams will treat each ofthese individuals with the highest level of dignityand respect that they all deserve," Ellis said. The teams will begin collecting forensic informationas soon as the bodies arrive at the morgue site,including fingerprinting and DNA sampling, he said. Once the facility is up and running, it can identify -or at least attempt to identify - 144 bodies a day,Cataldie said. Cataldie said 10 bodies being held by the state werethose of people who died while at the Superdome, mostfrom respiratory failure. Nine more died at atemporary hospital set up at Louis ArmstrongInternational Airport. "There were a lot of sick folkswho couldn't make a journey," he said. Twenty-six bodies were in refrigeration trucks at themorgue facility in St. Gabriel on Sunday, whileanother 22 were at a collection point at the split ofInterstate 10 and the I-610. Another 11 bodies wereidentified by the Jefferson Parish coroner as beingcaused by the storm, Cataldie said. Laura Maggi can be reached at laura_maggi@yahoo.com or(225) 342-5590.

5) "Dey Tryin to Wash Us Away." Do NOT trust the FEMAfeds. Do not:
http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09.html#076464Some see opportunity in wake of tragedyAmerican Venice, super-levee among ideas to fix N.O.By Bill Walsh and Jim BarnettWashington bureauWASHINGTON - House Speaker Dennis Hastert ignited afury in Louisiana last week when he said much offlood-drenched New Orleans could be bulldozed in thewake of Hurricane Katrina.Although he quickly backpedaled in the face ofcriticism, the powerful Illinois Republican gave voiceto a growing sentiment that rebuilding a devastatedNew Orleans must involve more than raising levees andconstructing new homes.Even as survivors were being plucked from the waterscoursing through the city's streets, policymakers,planners and engineers began floating ideas sure togive pause to proud New Orleanians, especially thosewith homes in low-lying areas. Among the suggestions:massive land-filling, government seizing privateproperty and, yes, bulldozing of flood-proneneighborhoods."I don't think the rest of the country will get behindsomething that doesn't fundamentally change thedesign," said Joseph Suhayda, of Baton Rouge, theformer southeast regional director of the FederalEmergency Management Agency, which is leading therecovery effort in the city."If you are going to get the financing for this and ifyou are going to encourage people to go back in, youhave to have a guarantee that this will never happenagain," he said.What Suhayda imagines is a radical facelift of aquirky and sometimes haphazard urban landscape thatmany find endearing, but that also has left the cityperilously vulnerable to flooding. Katrina showed thata single breach in the miles of levees surrounding NewOrleans could swamp this city, which is 9 feet belowsea level at places.Suhayda envisions 25-foot high partitionscompartmentalizing sections of the city the way boathulls are divided to isolate leaks. If there is abreach in one, the others would stay dry. His most novel idea is a towering new super-leveestretching 12 miles across New Orleans connectinglevees at each end of the crescent-like bend in theMississippi River. The area, capable of withstandingthe strongest hurricanes on record, would provide a"community haven" for all residents, he said.Suhayda's ideas are more radical than most. But forbetter or worse, Katrina's devastation has awakened asteely sense of realism that New Orleans, as it is,isn't viable."We must recognize that we can't sustain residentialpopulations in certain areas," said former U.S. Rep.Billy Tauzin, R-Chackbay.Not everyone is convinced that New Orleans needs afundamental geographic overhaul. Former Louisiana Sen.John Breaux, D-La., said attention should focusinstead on raising the levees. He pointed out that thestrongest, highest barriers along the river held."You can't just fill in (with dirt) 20 feet high andthen rebuild," Breaux said. "What is more practical isto strengthen the levee structure."But others see a historic opportunity in the gruesomeravages of disaster, a clean slate on which smarterplanning could bring about changes that have been longcontemplated, if not always spoken aloud.Levees built in the 1960s to withstand a storm surge 9to 12 feet high could be reinforced to keep out a wallof water nearly twice that high. New levees could beadded where neighborhoods now lie submerged. Strongerpumping stations could be strategically relocated andraised to higher ground so they don't flood when therest of the city does.Neighborhoods such as eastern New Orleans andLakeview, which are well below sea level, could beraised to 10 feet above the water line, making themless susceptible to flooding. Homes submerged for daysor weeks could be leveled and rebuilt to tougherbuilding codes."Out of nostalgia, do you want to put a shotgun shackback there where it floods all the time or say, 'Isthere a better way?'" said David Schulz, director ofthe Infrastructure Technology Institute atNorthwestern University. "In a very perverse way, thisrepresents a significant opportunity for New Orleans."Schulz sees wide-scale redevelopment as a chance toraise New Orleans out of poverty and attract newbusiness to the region. He suggested a new localcommunications system based on broadband wireless,rather than traditional phone and cable lines. Heenvisions running fiber-optic cables to support new"knowledge-based" businesses as an alternative to thetourism, port and petrochemical industries that havelong sustained the local economy."Imagine a city 287 years old transformed using 21stcentury technology," he said.Still others see an opportunity to get the privatesector to shoulder some of the burden of redevelopingthe city, a job that would otherwise fall to thetaxpayers.Because of New Orleans' proximity to the oil and gaswells in the Gulf of Mexico, Flowers said the industrymay be willing to pay a tax if it meant the regionwould have a reliable metropolitan anchor."The oil and gas companies have a big stake in thisbecause it's their infrastructure that gets exposed bythe loss of the wetlands and when you don't havehurricane protection," said retired Gen. RobertFlowers, former chief of the U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers.The last large-scale urban redevelopment project inthe United States was in New York after the WorldTrade Center bombings. While lower Manhattan bearslittle resemblance to New Orleans, some see an objectlesson in New York City's experience. Residents couldoffer up their ideas for designs in public "listeningsessions." Tauzin suggested an internationalcompetition for a new city design.The flamboyant former lawmaker even had an idea of hisown: "Why not an American Venice where we no longerfear water, but channel it in a way that isn't athreat," Tauzin said.Any radical redevelopment carries an enormous pricetag whose multi-billion-dollar dimensions can only beguessed at. It also begs gut-wrenching personal andpolitical questions: Which neighborhoods should beflattened? What happens to the people whose homes aretaken to make way for new levees or flood walls? Willthe old-world charm of New Orleans be trampled in thename of progress?There are practical questions, too. The widespreadtaking of property and significant land-filling arecertain to trigger protests from homeowners intent onremaining where they are and environmentalists worriedabout the effects of disturbing wetlands.The government's hand in seizing private property wasstrengthened in June by the U.S. Supreme Court when anarrow majority gave city officials in New London,Conn., power to take homes to make way for awaterfront redevelopment. Federal flood insurancerules may leave many homeowners in seriously floodedareas little choice but to walk away. FEMA won'trebuild a house if, in its judgment, it is more than50 percent ruined.The difficulty could come, experts say, in areas ofthe city that sustained manageable flooding but thatstand in the path of a proposed new levee, pumpingstation or canal."Clearly there will be some contentious decisions tobe made," Schulz said.Already, some potential clashes can be seen formingthe horizon between preservationists interested in NewOrleans' historical structures, however flawed, andengineers intent on constructing a hurricane-proofcity.A day after levees breached and water from LakePontchartrain began pouring into the city, RichardMoe, president of the National Trust for HistoricPreservation, issued a press release imploringdonations to restore New Orleans' many historic gems.Moe said that the stabilization and restoration of thecity's "world famed historic landmarks andneighborhoods should be a global concern."Significantly, Moe made no mention of landfills orflood walls.Fortunately, the best known of New Orleans' landmarks,the French Quarter, was among the regions of the cityleast hurt by the flooding. Its survival is being heldup as Exhibit A among those who say that filling inlow-lying areas of New Orleans is the only surefireway of guaranteeing the survival of New Orleans in theface of future, inevitable storms.As the oldest section of New Orleans, the FrenchQuarter has weathered innumerable fires and floodsover the past three centuries. It stayed relativelydry in Katrina because, at three feet above sea levelit is among the highest points in the city.

2) Hmm. Will they "do" body counts this time?:http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5258147,00.htmlMany of the Dead Never to Be Identified Tuesday September 6, 2005 12:16 AMAP Photo LADM132 By TIM DAHLBERG Associated Press Writer NEW ORLEANS (AP) - They died on flooded city streetsin the Big Easy and in country homes in Mississippi.One survived seven months of combat in Iraq only todie near his boyhood home. An 80-year-old woman diedsitting in a bedroom chair when a tree crashed throughthe roof. One man was killed when he went out to hiscar to charge his cell phone during the storm. A woman known only as ``Vera'' was struck by a carafter the hurricane hit, according to her husband. Most of the dead from Hurricane Katrina don't havenames yet. Many will never be identified because theirbodies decomposed in the floodwaters and heat beforethey were found. For some, a few details are emerging from relativeswho want them remembered: - Jewelry shop owner David ``Kip'' Logan, 49, liked toplay golf and hunt and attended a Baptist church. Hislast act was to tell his wife to run as a tree crackedand fell on the porch of his Laurel, Miss., home,collapsing an awning on top of him. Deborah Logan suffered two broken vertebrae and brokenfingers, but stayed with her husband as neighborspulled him from the wreckage, dug a damaged car out ofthe debris and drove him to the hospital. ``I held his head in my hands the whole way,'' DeborahLogan said. - For some reason, 43-year-old Vicky Thaggard wrote aletter to her preacher four months ago describing howshe wanted her funeral carried out. She died when atree fell on her car in Leake County, Miss. ``Different people think you know before you die,''said Kay Cain, her niece. ``I don't know. ... Why elsewould she leave a letter like that?'' - Whenever Merry Thompson went out for a drive, shewas accompanied by a 3-foot-tall stuffed toy,Sylvester the cat. It was a tribute to her latefather, who was named Sylvester, and it was guaranteedto draw stares from drivers around Eagle Lake, Miss. The 43-year-old died when a tree fell on her mobilehome. ``She's crazy - not looney bin crazy - but she justhad a lot of personality,'' her son, Nick Thompson,said. ``She's very outgoing and warm.'' - Josh E. Russell had spent a tour in Iraq, thenswitched to the National Guard from the Marine Corpsso he could spend more time at home. The 27-year-oldwas killed when the Humvee he was riding in hit debrison a highway in Pearl River County, Miss. Russell was nervous about being called into action,sent into the teeth of the hurricane, said his widow,Jamie Russell. ``He didn't want to go, because he knew it was goingto be a bad storm. But he went, because that was hisduty,'' she said. These are just a few of the dead whose names are knownand whose stories are being told. But there are sureto be thousands more in months ahead. Many, like the man whose body was on a wooden cart onNew Orleans' Rampart Street near downtown may simplybe buried in anonymous pauper's graves. The elderlyman was wrapped in a child's bedsheet decorated withthe cartoon characters Batman, Robin and the Riddler.He had one shoe on, one off. Identifying the dead will be a daunting task, madeeven more desperate because many will likely bebloated and decomposed by the time they're taken away.FEMA officials said they would try to locate dentalrecords, but urged family members to bring in photos,fingerprints or even a toothbrush or provide DNAsamples. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warnedthe nation to prepare for the worst as bodies believedto be in houses and in floodwaters are recovered. ``It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as Ithink you can imagine,'' Chertoff said. Slowly, though, some faces are being matched with thedead, mostly by family members. For days, mystery shrouded the body of ``Vera'' asclosely as the sheet that eventually cloaked her body.She stayed there in the Garden District, at the cornerof Jackson and Magazine, with a spraypainted tributeon the sheet over her: ``Here lies Vera. God helpus.'' Vera turned out to be 66-year-old Elvira Smith, wholived with her common-law husband, C.N. Keene, aboutfive blocks from where she was killed. Sittingshirtless and with a growth of beard on the frontporch of his modest duplex, Keene said he last saw hiswife Monday after the hurricane struck. Keene said she was on her way to Jewel's grocery whensomeone driving in the frantic aftermath of thehurricane struck her just a few feet from the storeentrance and sped away. The next day, Keene said hewalked over and put a bedspread over her body but hedidn't want to return to it. On Saturday, Keene was sitting on his porch when a mancame up to him with some news. ``Some guy I didn't even know named John came by andsaid, 'I've just buried Elvira in the park,''' Keenesaid. Her body remained in the same spot, but a shortwall of bricks had been built around her, anchoringthe tarp. ``I told him I appreciated it,'' Keene said.

9) Save Our Saints. This issue is still underdiscussion, for this season as well as later. I saywe should change their name to the Louisiana Saints,and get them a new stadium. For now, they should playin Tiger Stadium, like they mean it. I saw a soccermatch in Istanbul 3 weeks after the great earthquakeof '99, and at the time the sports was exactly thesalve that Istanbul needed. It's true here as well:http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09.html#076464Saints may move to San AntonioSenator urges Benson to delay his decisionBy Robert Travis ScottCapital bureauNew Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is leaningstrongly toward moving the Saints permanently to SanAntonio following the devastation to the city and theSuperdome by Hurricane Katrina, a state senator whohas spoken with a top team official said Saturday.Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, said he spoke withSaints' chief of administration Arnold Fielkow byphone Friday morning about Benson's potential plans.Team officials could not be reached Saturday. The teamhad previously announced it was looking for a new homefor the current season, and San Antonio was one of theoptions.Michot said he was told that Benson has not made afinal decision, but the owner is serious about movingonce and for all to San Antonio. "We may lose thempermanently," Michot said.A possible move by the team is a "huge concern" amonga few state officials who have become aware of it, butevery significant political figure in the state ispreoccupied with reacting to the storm aftermath.State officials want to convince Benson to delay adecision so that the state can focus on the rescue andrehabilitation effort and later find a way to keep theSaints at home in New Orleans."This is like pouring salt into the wound," Michotsaid.Michot said decency dictates that Benson shouldpostpone any decision on a permanent move until stateofficials have had a chance to talk with him."Give us time," Michot said. Another state officialconfirmed a similar conversation with Fielkow.Michot is the vice chairman of the Senate CommerceCommittee, a key committee for legislation related tostate agreement with the Saints.He said that in the long run the Saints might bebetter off staying in New Orleans because a revivedcity with national support could provide a betterstadium.10) For those who think FEMA did fine, check out thesedailykos.com postings (go to the originals for thelinks to proofs). I myself witnessed a city federallydeclared unfit for habitation, with LA State Troopersletting relief supplies in. THAT'S what defines thetensions between Blanco and Bush. He tried tostrongarm her into signing the whole thing over to theFeds, and she refused. She's right, and I'm a fan ofhers for that:Can FEMA Do Anything Right? by DavidNYC Mon Sep 5th, 2005 at 13:04:55 PDTJust take a look at this list of stories:FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuationsFEMA turns away experienced firefightersFEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucksFEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuelFEMA won't let Red Cross deliver foodFEMA bars morticians from entering New OrleansWe know FEMA's budget and operations have been gutted.We know FEMA's currently run by a washed-up hackattorney who couldn't even get a job at Jacoby &Myers. But this is beyond outrageous. I am sure thereare plenty more stories like this; I collected thesein just ten minutes on Google News and DKos. Lookingat this list, it would be hard to blame you if youthought FEMA actively wanted rescue and reliefoperations to fail.Of course, that's not the case - but these ranksfailures transcend even the corrupt indifference we'vegrown sadly accustomed to over the past five years. Ifthere's any hope for the recovery efforts, it'll comefrom guys like Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré andClinton-era FEMA director James Lee Witt, not criminalincompetents like Michael D. "Brownie" Brown.P.S. If you know of any more stories like the above,list them in the comments - along with links - andI'll add them to the list.Update [2005-9-5 17:10:50 by DavidNYC]: FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from deliveringaidFEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospitalon boardFEMA to Chicago: Send just one truckFEMA turns away generators (See entry from 3:32 P.M.by Ben Morris, Slidell mayor)FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"That last one sounds like an Onion headline, but,believe it or not, it's straight from FEMA's website.See also this post at Kossack 8051FSW's blog"Constructive Interference" for an even bigger list,including some not on this one. I think at this point,I'll stop updating this list, but feel free to keepadding new stories in the comments below.Permalink :: Discuss (212 comments, 212 new)The Last Time America Lost a City by SensibleShoes [Subscribe] Mon Sep 5th, 2005 at 12:22:26 PDT[Promoted from the diaries with minor edits byDavidNYC.]This post is actually by my brother, CaliforniaShoes.He's comparing the government reaction this past weekto the government reaction the last time an Americancity was destroyed - San Francisco, April 18, 1906.The earthquake struck at 5:13 AM.By 7 AM federal troops had reported to the mayor.By 8 AM they were patrolling the entire downtown areaand searching for survivors.The second quake struck at 8:14 AM.By 10:05 AM the USS Chicago was on its way from SanDiego to San Francisco; by 10:30 the USS Preble hadlanded a medical team and set up an emergencyhospital.By 11 AM large parts of the city were on fire; troopscontinued to arrive throughout the day, evacuatingpeople from the areas threatened by fire to emergencyshelters and Golden Gate Park.St. Mary's hospital was destroyed by the fire at 1 PM,with no loss of life, the staff and patients havingalready been evacuated across the bay to Oakland.By 3 PM troops had shot several looters, and dynamitedbuildings to make a firebreak; by five they had burieddozens of corpses, the morgue and the police pistolrange being unable to hold any more.At 8:40 PM General Funston requested emergency housing- tents and shelters - from the War Department inWashington; all of the tents in the U.S. Army were ontheir way to San Francisco by 4:55 AM the nextmorning.Prisoners were evacuated to Alcatraz, and by April 20(two days after the earthquake) the USS Chicago hadreached San Francisco, where it evacuated 20,000refugees.Of course, the technology of the day was fairlyprimitive, and the U.S. was a much poorer country. Nodoubt we could move more quickly today.

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