Katrina’s Aftermath Update, 9/3/05

File Under: The Aftermath of Katrina

If you had to sum up the biggest headline of today into one word, it would be “relief”. There is great progress in the evacuations. New Orleans was once a vibrant city of 480,000 people. Known for it’s jazz, it’s good cooking, and the most outlandish – and flamboyant – festival in the nation, Mardi Gras. It is now a flooded tomb. Here now, the top developments of the day:

The Rough Headlines

– The National Guard troops force has been increased by another 10,000, bringing the grand total to 40,000. 7,200 active-duty troops will be sent to New Orleans for 3 days.
– A “army” of volunteers helped to unload toys, diapers, clothing, shoes, and other items inside the convention center. Many refugees have nothing to go back to, no possessions left, and will probably stay in Houston, or somewhere close by.
– The Superdome is being described as “hell”. There are tales of being at the mercy of rapists and murderers. Security forces inside were described by one person as “trigger happy” and killed innocent people.
– Refugee said that the rivers have “bodies floating everywhere”, and that there were “lots of them”. Some had bullets in them.

“If you look at the effect of this hurricane, except for the fact that there was no immediate large loss of life, for all intents and purposes it’s as if an atomic bomb was dropped on New Orleans.” – Homeland Defense Secretary Michael Chertoff

– Many, many are upset at what they describe as a “slow response”. “They have us living here like animals”, said one mother who was at the convention center. “This is wrong. This is the United States of America.” The federal government has been criticized in the past couple days for not getting enough food and water, and evacuation vehicles, across the the path of destruction, which is described as being as big as Britian.
– Marathon Oil, which had one refinery shut down and had to reduce output at 2 other places, said that it will be back at full capacity on Monday.
– The US Army Corps of Engineers says that it will take 36-80 days to drain New Orleans.
– In St. Gabriel, they expect a makeshift morgue at a prison to end up with 1,000 to 2,000 bodies.
– Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), said that “a lot more than 8 to 10 people are dying a day.” Most were too sick or weak to survive.
– 3 babies died at the convention center from heat exhaustion.

The Government’s Response

President Bush will return to the region on Monday. No other details were made avaliable. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Rice will be in the region on Sunday, touring the remains of the cities. Michael Chertoff, Homeland Defense Secretary, arrived there late Saturday.

FEMA is sending rescue teams to collect the dead bodies and send them to morgues. Michael Brown, FEMA’s director, decline to discuss a body count, which has been speculated to be anywhere between 500 and 10,000.

Army troops and National Guard forces are establishing control of New Orleans, and are working to disarm gangs. Officals are feeling confident that law enforcement agencies are beginning to get a grip on the situation after the anarchy and chaos over the past week.

Evacuating the Big Easy

The evacuation was in full-force today. By 6 pm, the Superdome and the Convention Center were cleared. The airport, which TDI mentioned to you last night that had just opened up again, was busy all day, with flights going in and out. Military cargo planes were being used. Inside the terminal, a makeshit hospital was set up.

Survivors are still being picked from rooftops and along highways. At the convention center, people stumbled toward the helicopters, dehydrated and nearly passing out from exhaustion. Many had to be carried by National Guard troops and police on stretchers. And some were being pushed up the street on office chairs and on dollies.

After New Orleans

10,000 people have been flown out of New Orleans, in what Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta calls the “largest airlift in history on U.S. soil”. The flights will continue as long as needed. Tens of thousands of evacuees are in Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, and Arkansas. Additionally, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Michigan have announced that they would also accept refugees.

But Texas Governor Rick Perry is warning that his state might, well, run out of room! Workers at the Astrodome were told to expect 10,000 new arrivals daily for the next 3 days. The evacuees in Houston say conditions in the Astrodome and the convention center are far better.

More on the devestation in the deep south on Sunday.

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