ninth circle

9/7/05

The lovely, talented enchantress Bliss Broyard is from New Orleans, and through some of her friends, we got the following story from Lorrie Beth Slonsky (editor of the medical journal The Gurney Gazette) and Larry Bradshaw, two paramedics who got stuck in the French Quarter while attending a convention. What follows is their harrowing journey out of hell, and while it is long, it is so worth the time. Read it now before this makes the email rounds and thus both Lorrie Beth and Larry end up vilified on conservative blogs. I promise, there is no politics here. Just a true story.

Here it is:

***

HURRICANE KATRINA: OUR EXPERIENCES by Lorrie Beth Slonsky and Larry Bradshaw

Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen’s store at

the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display

case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without

electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were

beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked

up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside

Walgreen’s windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and

hungry.

The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized and the

windows at Walgreen’s gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The

cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit

juices, and bottle water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did

not. Instead they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing

away the looters.

We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home

yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a

newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or

front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the

Walgreen’s in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with “hero” images of the

National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the “victims”

of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed, were the

real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of

New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick

and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators

running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching

over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars

stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical

ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs

of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck

in elevators.

Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, “stealing” boats to rescue their

neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped

hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And

the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising

communal meals for hundreds of those stranded. Most of these workers had

lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they

stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that

was not under water.

On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the

French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like

ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter

from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends

outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources

including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the

City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because

none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with

$25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did

not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did

have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12

hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had.

We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born

babies. We waited late into the night for the “imminent” arrival of the

buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived

at the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was

dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime

as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked

their doors, telling us that the “officials” told us to report to the

convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the

City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would

not be allowed into the Superdome as the City’s primary shelter had

descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told

us that the City’s only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also

descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing

anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, “If we can’t go to the only 2

shelters in the City, what was our alternative?” The guards told us that

that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us.

This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile

“law enforcement”.

We walked to the police command center at Harrah’s on Canal Street and were

told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water

to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to

decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command

post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly

visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we

could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short

order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He

told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway

and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up

to take us out of the City. The crowd cheered and began to move. We called

everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of

misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses

waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically,

“I swear to you that the buses are there.”

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great

excitement and hope. As we marched past the convention center, many locals

saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We

told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few

belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in

strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and

others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up

the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did

not dampen our enthusiasm.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the

foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing

their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various

directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched

forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told

them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander’s

assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The

commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there

was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank

was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in

their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not

crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain

under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an

encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center

divide, between the O’Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be

visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated

freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen

buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same

trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned

away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be

verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented

and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot.

 Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and

disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers

stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be

hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New

Orleans had become.

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck

and brought it up to us. Let’s hear it for looting! A mile or so down the

freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight

turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts. Now secure

with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and

creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the

rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a

storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for

privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even

organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of

C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina.  When

individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for

yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or

food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look

out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in

the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness

would not have set in. Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water

to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our

encampment grew to 80 or 90 people. From a woman with a battery powered

radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the

freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the

City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those

families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going

to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. “Taking care of us”

had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was

correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his

patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, “Get off the fucking

freeway”. A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow

away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck

with our food and water. Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the

freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we

congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of

“victims” they saw “mob” or “riot”. We felt safety in numbers. Our “we must

stay together” was impossible because the agencies would force us into small

atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered

once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought

refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were

hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were

hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and

shoot-to-kill policies.

The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact with New

Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search

and rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a

ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the

limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large

section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and

were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.

We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The

airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press of

humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed

briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a coast

guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.

There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort

continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were

forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did not have

air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to share two

filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any

possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) we were

subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated

at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet, no food

had been provided to the men, women, children, elderly, disabled as they sat

for hours waiting to be “medically screened” to make sure we were not

carrying any communicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt

reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give

her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us

money and toiletries with words of welcome. Throughout, the official relief

effort was callous, inept, and racist. There was more suffering than need

be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.

***

0 thoughts on “ninth circle

  1. C

    I am not surprised. But please remember it was a city and state deal first, national last. Certainly not the best solution but the unfortunate circumstance. Its embarrassing how inept government bureacracies are.
    Did you hear about how the chief of police of New Orleans is sending all of his officers to Vegas for vacation? A strapped for cash city that has just suffered a crippling disaster spending gifted dollars on Vegas – ridiculous.
    Oh, and the money that the Clinton doled out to N.O. to fix the levees has mysteriously evaporated. That money was a Louisiana/New Orleans govt. responsibility to manage, not a federal one. There are some rumors going about that Bush took the money away from them to pay for the war. NOT true. Hey, I’m not fond of the guy either, but let’s be honest, he doesn’t have that kind of power.
    From a liberal independent in Texas.
    (btw, Ian, I take issue with you kvetching that it had to be New Orleans that got reamed by the hurricane enema while Dallas sat pretty. What did Dallas do to you?)

    Reply
  2. CL

    Ridiculous. We’d better start preparing for other disasters, and have a plan. But that means civilians can’t be pooh-poohing the possibility, either. Whenever I speak of preparation for antoher attack in the NY/NJ area, I still get the same ‘It’s not gonna happen here, and if it does, we’re doomed anyway’ nonsense.
    I think the authors of that piece should cut it down and publish it on the Times Op-Ed, or in Slate or something.

    Reply
  3. Killian

    I’m walking into my Ethics class with this TODAY. Thank you for making such a devastingly real account available to us. I’ll let yu know how my 20-somethings respond.

    Reply
  4. Deb

    Hard to even form words. Amazing that the ineptitude of our government, big and small, STILL has the ability to surprise me.
    One thing though: not be a jerk, but I did see lots of footage of at least the Coast Guard working 18-hour shifts, tirelessly airlifting people out one by one. And what of General Honore, yelling at cops to put down their guns, sent at the 13th hour to attempt some, any order? I am definitely not law enforcement’s biggest fan (in fact, I can’t quite believe I’m writing all this), but when you’ve got cops overwhelmed and devastated enough to kill themselves, I don’t think it’s right to malign the entire police/military effort and call them “heroes”, quote unquote.
    Additionally, actual looters, drug addicts with guns, and rapists *were* out there doing bad things. It’s important to recognize that there were folks “foraging” for jewelry, tv’s and iPods, not to mention thieving countless identities.
    I don’t mean to belittle the horror that these folks were fortunate enough to live through. I just think, as with everything, it’s important not to become too publicly one-sided. To do so would be a slap in the face to those in law enforcement who did sacrifice and save lives. Just as it’s not right to generalize all those taking food and diapers as looters….or all looters as humanitarians. If we are to learn something from this catastrophe, it is imperative that we try to maintain perspective. Which, I know, is easy to do from my air conditioned job in Chicago.

    Reply
  5. badbob

    This just reinforces all the issues that the real Badbob (me) was saying desoite all the shrill language. The “real Matt” has been trying to say same also:
    The 1st responders local mayor and NOPD made tactical errors, didn’t follow their own documented plan. The Governor delayed over 24 hrs making a decision on activating and federalizing guard and muilitary units.
    All of the above buffoonery literally fed the FEMA loss of situational awareness and further delayed the delivery of aid be it buses, food or water. Hell, even the Red Cross wasn’t allowed to get the Superdome on day two of the flood- Wednesday.
    I believe this lady’s account. She has no reason to make anything up as to her movements or observations..
    She does get a few DailyKos like zingers in at Bush and the Iraq War but I am getting used to diregarding politics and searching for facts.Ex- Bush photo-op (maybe); Shoot to Kill policy ( never was implemented by NOPD or the state), Guardsman statements (I doubt it)….
    B2

    Reply
  6. Chris M

    Another thing. They like black people. They say there was racism. They must be full of shit!
    Everyone knows that if we’d just privatized the weather, none of this would have happened. Here’s hoping the President has the good sense to sell New Orleans to the highest bidder.

    Reply
  7. [fake] badbob

    Oh, and I know I said I was going to go away, but I don’t keep my word.
    I’m a Republican, after all.
    “I’m a uniter, not a divider.”
    “We’ll keep America safer.”
    “We will restore honor and dignity to the White House.”
    “Sadam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.”

    Reply
  8. Rebecca

    Simply unbelieveable. This is America? It’s amazing how quickly we can become a 3rd world country.
    I was feeling good about myself, because I have a suppy of water and canned foods in my garage that would feed my family for 3 days in case of an earthquake (I live in CA). The Red Cross recommends 1 gallon of water per person, so I have 15 gallons of water out there. However, if you’re out of town, you’re screwed! Clearly, FEMA and the Red Cross cannot help you. I can’t believe that the sheriff took food and water from those people!
    Let’s get these people on CNN, or MSNBC or Fox news or something. People need to hear this story! I want to hear how the mayor of NO and “Brownie” respond to this.
    Any by the way, why isn’t Laura Bush down there reading library books to small children who have been separated from their parents? Where the hell is she?

    Reply
  9. Ian

    *sigh*
    The implication that this story was altered by the people who experienced it – because of a “liberal bias” – is so unbelievably sad. To have suffered what they suffered, and then told their story is somehow slightly invalidated because they were progressive rabble-rousers to begin with… man, I hope one of you gets to say that to their faces. I’d bet Lorrie Beth has a good right hook after lifting all those patients onto gurneys.
    In other news, whomever is pretending to be badbob – or pretending to be anybody else – stop it. That shit threatens to ruin comments on an anonymous forum such as this. Let badbob express his own opinions and make your judgements with your own name.

    Reply
  10. david

    Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, recognize that if you remain a “capitalist” at ground zero in a hurricane you really are just an asshole.
    And last time I checked:
    1. cop = working class; sheriff = working class; coast guard = working class; bus driver = working class
    2. disaster = situation; ineffectual bureaucracy & politics = an escalating scale from annoyance to outright hazard
    3. effectual public servants = heroes
    Disasters seem to make irrelevant the distinctions between white and blue collars, unless you plan an doing an inventory accounting during the “liberation” of your Walmarts shelves. I can’t blame them for locking up store prior to the storm, but one of the things we learned in NERT (unfortunate name : Neighborhhod Emergency Response Training) was that the hardwar tools of rescue: such as crowbars, shovels, and hammers, would be readily avaible to us by liberating them from hardware stores. This was told to us by Firemen. No need to stock them in you dinky apartment. No need to panic. But, then that is the purpose of NERT.
    Not to be a polyanna but, I’m sure the hell that would be unleashed in the Bay Area (think GUNS; Mission gangs, Oakland, San Jose) after a big quake will make NOLA seem like a cakewalk.
    “sending all of his officers to Vegas for vacation?”
    I hope they stay at the Venetian, wtf?
    Props to http://www.rub-a-dub.blogspot.com/
    Medal Candidate
    The standards for awarding the Congressional Gold Medal have been falling over the last few decades. I think that there is a young man from New Orleans who did a good thing and deserves the medal. In fact, I thinkby awarding him the medal, Congress could signal that they are going to return to the years of high standards for awarding the medal.
    Let’s write to Congress and get him decorated. I think he deserves A Congressional Gold Medal. If not that medal, he should be given the Medal of Freedom. At the least he should receive the Presidential Citizens Medal.
    So call your congressman today. Phone#: 202-224-3121
    And call the President, too. Phone #: 202-456-1414
    Let’s give honor to whom honor is due.

    Reply
  11. Bigknob

    Bob–fuck off. You promised to leave and didn’t. And Ian–do you think the person pretending to be Badbob is ruining the discourse, or is it already ruined by the “real” badbob? It would be one thing if he posted those comments with his real name, with his photo, so that we could call him on his bullshit. If he’s too much of a chicken to stand behind his words, fine. But to have him come in and make fun of the entire discourse and now he’s the part of the community that needs to be protected? That sucks.
    Badboob, go start your own blog, with Matt and Chris L etc. Or stop being such a sanctimonious dick.

    Reply
  12. Chris M

    1. True story? Maybe. Maybe not.
    2. Urban legend? Equally reasonable assumption.
    3. Story not political? False (but she’s Editor of the Gurney Gazette…oh, and writes for some other magazine that I forgot to mention and that’s not political or anything).
    4. The content is clearly political. Point is, one can pretty easily identify authors’ strong political proclivities by the content. I confirmed it afterward with research.
    5. Authors’ Pink-Elephant-Omission: Story by EMS workers at a convention in NOLA during massive public health catastrophe. Obviously EMS workers’ story would talk about attempt to volunteer to do EMS work. Oddly, story does not even raise possibility that they would attempt to do EMS work. No explanation.

    Reply
  13. eric

    “Heck I’ll bet them chicks were really in town for a little carpet munching at Southern Decadence”?
    Thanks. That really added to the discourse. Now go back to watching “Girls Gone Wild” or whatever the hell else it is you do in between Fox News segments and spare us.

    Reply
  14. Ian

    Badbob always manages to say one unbelievably stupid beneath-his-intellect thing every few weeks, but other than that, he (and anyone else, with the possible exception of JBoogie and the occasional troll) can say whatever they want as long as they don’t actually insult anybody personally. It would get pretty boring if they didn’t.
    That said, please tear apart any conservative arguments at will like the Gribster just did.

    Reply
  15. Chris M

    EMTs recount efforts to aid other during horrific tragedy…there are others
    STEPPING UP IN THE STORM: Unable to leave New Orleans when Katrina hit, LI EMTs used their medical training to help injured and sick survive…
    http://www.emsnetwork.org/artman/publish/article_18301.shtml
    KATRINA THROUGH THE EYES OF AN EMT by Philipp Meyer
    Last Sunday, Philipp Meyer, a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at UT and an EMT, drove all night to New Orleans, arriving there Monday morning during hurricane Katrina. He spent the next 24 hours working with a local police department as an EMT. Below is his account of those days….
    http://www.emsnetwork.org/artman/publish/article_18408.shtml
    WAR ZONE
    That’s how three Mason paramedic/firefighters described the scene in New Orleans last week after Hurricane Katrina hit.
    And they weren’t talking about the ruined homes and flooded streets. They were talking about what was going on inside the Superdome, where tens of thousands of evacuees, unable to get out of town, were kept for six days without lights, air conditioning, working toilets or enough food and water.
    There were fights, desperation, panic and death. It was chaos, they said.
    “We don’t ever want to tell people what we saw there,” said Mark Gerano. “There’s no training, no words, no part of the human mind that could really imagine what it was like down there. It was bad, in every sense of the word.”
    Gerano and his co-workers, Battalion Chief Vickie Koch and Fire Inspector Mark Guinn, had been attending an EMS conference in New Orleans and were stranded when the evacuation call came and the city shut down.
    They went to the Superdome and offered to help with triage for the 500 hospital patients there.
    What happened in the next few days was the stuff of nightmares, they said.
    “I’m still having dreams about it,” Koch said. “I’ve been doing this for a lot of years and usually I bounce back quickly. I haven’t jumped back yet,” she said.
    The medics treated patients in an 8-by-10 room accessible to anyone. They treated spider bites, injuries from assaults and serious medical conditions.
    Ill people had no medicine. Diabetics had no insulin.
    Dialysis patients were due for treatment that wouldn’t come.
    Hungry babies had no formula.
    The crew used arm bandages to wipe the sweat from their brows as they frantically handled about 200 patients an hour. They had few supplies. Formula didn’t arrive until the second day – without bottles. Insulin didn’t arrive until the third day. They used pen lights so they could see to change their clothes. They used paper clips to hang IV bags from signs on the walls. Police radios didn’t work. Raw sewage flowed down the hallways…
    http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050907/NEWS01/509070359/1077/rss02

    Reply
  16. Chris M

    Another visiting EMT (from NJ) helping out…
    On the morning before Katrina hit New Orleans I had made contact with Hilton Security Captain Lucien Fortone to offer my assistance as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), little did I know that a few days later I would have been part of a team of guests and staff that would come together like a family and do so much for so many.
    As others came forward to help, we organized into a cohesive unit, developed a plan, and established our own Incident Command Structure. We surveyed the building, considered options and presented our concerns and ideas to the Hilton staff who recognized us as filling a critical need and supported us in helping them and the thousands of other guests and people from the public that were provided shelter and food before, during, and after the storm.
    The Hilton staff and corporate structure was amazing and did not waver in their efforts. They made sure people had three hot meals a day, made arrangements for supplies to be brought in when they could and developed a plan to get everyone to safety regardless of whether or not they were paying guests, staff, or simply people of New Orleans that had somehow made it to the Hilton before the storm.
    For my experience I was never prouder to be part of and actually lead a team of people in a time of need than I was when I had the honor of taking the helm of our team of guests at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. No one was bigger than the team, everyone gave what they could and more in energy, ideas, and just plain hard work.
    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?sectionId=55&id=44459

    Reply
  17. michelle Williams

    Not even for a moment, Chris M, badbob, and the like- not even for a moment could you acknowledge the horror, the difficulty of this story, of these people? Simply because some parts of this story might paint those you admire in a bad light, you couldn’t take one moment to mourn, one moment to express concern, sympathy, caring, anything? I guess I shouldn’t care, I’ve gone to skimming your comments anyway because it’s the same drivel, over and over, but I was really hopeful- although really doubtful- that just once, one of you would say, “wow. that’s terrible. that’s just terrible.” Instead, you say “urban legend”?
    Do you hold doors open for people? Do you see value in kindness? Have you donated anything to alleviate the suffering of this or any other tragedy? Do you *care* about anyone outside of yourselves, or do you simply troll blogs to find folks to attack? Because that is what it sounds like to me. It’s almost as if you are so ready to jump to defend your platform that you don’t take even a moment to consider that maybe, just maybe, every word of this story is true, and that it’s not a political issue, it’s a human suffering issue, and what happened to these people really, really sucked- regardless of who is to blame. You make me sad, and unless you start speaking from a place of kindness, of grounded thought, of respect, I’ll keep skipping your comments. Not that you give a rat’s behind whether or not I read what you have to say. I’m just Ian’s little sister. But I imagine arguments are much less fun when nobody is listening.

    Reply
  18. Chris M

    michelle, I really think you are mixing my posts with those of some others in a way that’s not quite fair. though i have serious doubts about the version of events presented by Slonsky and Bradshaw, my other posts make it pretty clear things were outrageously bad in NOLA and that it was a horrible tragedy. It was in other places beside NOLA, too. True, I don’t place as much importance as some people on expressing grief and sorrow in a forum that is comprised mainly of people who were not directly affected by Katrina. I did contribute money to Katrina relief and routinely do so for other charities in fairly significant amounts relative to my modest government salary, but believe that talking about ones own giving is to be avoided. I care a great deal about all the good people who are victims or are helping the victims. I am sure you would not be pleased if a good person who was helping Katrina victims was attacked publicly in the media and it turned out that attack was false.

    Reply
  19. Grant

    Wow. I’d heard it was bad but this takes the biscuit.
    The response of those in power (police, army etc) was terrible. You guys are living in a atmosphere of fear and terror since 9/11 – pretty much imposed by the government through the media. It ain’t healthy – just look at what it’s turning you into.

    Reply
  20. badbob (real)

    M.
    re- “Not even for a moment, Chris M, badbob, and the like- not even for a moment could you acknowledge the horror, the difficulty of this story, of these people?”
    Yes I do M. or I wouldn’t go through the trouble of coming into this hostile territory to get the truth out. I have given several hundred dollars to a couple charities and I have prayed for the victims who didn’t survive. If I was in a situation to travel to help I would. BTW- Thanks for all your efforts.
    This one fact tells the story- After surviving a hurricane, my friends brother was flooded out of his house by a broken levee. Time to flood the house to second story- 10 minutes. Think about it just 10 minutes.
    re- “Simply because some parts of this story might paint those you admire in a bad light, you couldn’t take one moment to mourn, one moment to express concern, sympathy, caring, anything?”
    I feel. I mourn.
    However as a retired military man and engineer and non-artist, I cannot let my emotions rue everything I do. I’m from Mars I guess.
    “I guess I shouldn’t care, I’ve gone to skimming your comments anyway because it’s the same drivel, over and over, but I was really hopeful- although really doubtful- that just once, one of you would say, “wow. that’s terrible. that’s just terrible.” Instead, you say “urban legend”?”
    Who used the term urban ledgend- not I. I stick by the facts I have been trying to put out:
    1- 1st responders: mayor/NOPD did not follow their own S.O.P.
    2- The NOPD basically fell apart by day 2
    3- The Governor of LA was too deliberate and indecisive with the NGOs (Red Cross, SA, etc.) when they were ready to go. She also never mobilized or federalized the National Guard early enough or with enough power to operate.
    4- The Lousiana HLS apparatus (totally independent of the federeal HLS dept) made a horredous calculation NOT to allow the NGOs to bring food/water to the Superdome/Civic Center because they only wanted to evacuate those nodes not create a lodgement fo the folks there….
    5- FEMA was overwhelmed lost situational; awareness from bad local/state information (see above) and was frozen in place.
    Collectively/individually these are the factors that led to this debacle.
    That being said howver I do want to say that no other country on earth could have saved as many people as we have, despite the buffoonery.
    “Do you hold doors open for people?”
    Yes I do. Not just ladies either.
    Do you see value in kindness? Have you donated anything to alleviate the suffering of this or any other tragedy? Do you *care* about anyone outside of yourselves, or do you simply troll blogs to find folks to attack?”
    I first came to this Blog after Coastopia. I am often entertained and I like the pics. Troll? hardly.
    “Because that is what it sounds like to me. It’s almost as if you are so ready to jump to defend your platform that you don’t take even a moment to consider that maybe, just maybe, every word of this story is true, and that it’s not a political issue, it’s a human suffering issue, and what happened to these people really, really sucked- regardless of who is to blame. You make me sad, and unless you start speaking from a place of kindness, of grounded thought, of respect, I’ll keep skipping your comments. Not that you give a rat’s behind whether or not I read what you have to say. I’m just Ian’s little sister. But I imagine arguments are much less fun when nobody is listening.”
    Well Little Sister there are a couple factors at work here. You’re very effective to get to the human element and there are folks in here (this blog) who I think have genuine empathy for the tragedy..
    On the other Lady M. go back to the beginning of the entries or your brother’s own posts..they went right to the Lowest Common Denominator of politics and hating Bush for the sake of , well, hating Bush.
    Actions and facts are what compel me to write the entries I do. Vitriol will be met with with vitriol..sometimes I even try to entertain in a non-PC way.
    B2 (the real one)

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  21. michelle

    badbob, Chris M, thank you for your human responses. I don’t agree with much of what either of you say, but I can read you when you write like this.

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  22. Seren

    Why were you attending a conference 2-3 days after the government told you tog et out of the city? Instead of blaming everyone else maybe you should take some personal responsibility for some of the misery you endured.

    Reply
  23. Maureen

    I believe the account. Why wouldn’t I, when I live in New York City? I saw how things were handled here immediately after 9/11, and even now that it’s been 4 years, there are still bureaucrats and so-called “emergency responders” that create more problems than they ever solve.
    Oh, and about that “why didn’t they leave” question…
    Here in NYC, ever since 9/11, whenever something happens, the first thing they do is CLOSE all methods of egress from the city (bridges, tunnels, etc.). We are sitting ducks – and as someone posted above, what happened in NOLA would seem like a day at the park compared to what NYC would be like in a similar disaster.
    Just imagine – if it was not possible to evacuate a city of 500,000 with three day’s notice, how many would be trapped in a city of 8 MILLION?

    Reply
  24. Michelle Wyatt

    I have purposefully avoided watching tv footage because I have two toddlers and when I can’t even fathom the misery and horror, I feel sure they can’t. Everything does not have to become a political issue. Some things, while having a political effect, can be simply true. This is what I believe the case to be here. In a society where capitalism has taken over and is, essentially, god; we have tobacco companies that can addict people to poison, a government that can bug your house and search you (remember the lawmakers are owned by the real government– the corporations), and a city full of desperate and needy due to a natural disaster (how apolitical is a hurricane?) and they can be treated worse than shit. It is maddening. Infuriating. Thanks for posting it.

    Reply

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