Saturday, September 03, 2005

More Hurricane Katrina

My good friend Don Grady, host of the popular Louisiana Live radio show which is bradcast from Baton Rouge, sent me the heartbreaking e-mail message below on September 1. He has given me permission to share it with other friends and colleagues.

"Thanks for joining our program today. It was good to hear from someone outside this area and learn what how the rest of the country is viewing this devastation. For a few minutes today I lost it, but the extent of the damage is unimaginable. The death count from 9/11 will pale compared to the count here and on the Gulf coast.

"The people of New Orleans were warned, told to leave two days before the hurricane struck, but too many chose not to. There have been similar warnings in the past, but the storms weakened before making landfall, or the path changed, To some it was a case of 'crying wolf.' This time it wasn't a wolf, but Katrina.

"There is anarchy in New Orleans. A truck with medical supplies, food and water was held up at gunpoint. 96 carjackings in the city Wednesday night. A percentage of those thugs are now in Baton Rouge, and most likely, other cities. Our governmental building was evacuated today and workers told not to return until Tuesday. There was a 'disturbance' at the River Center (convention facility) and there was fear it would spread. Downtown offices were in lock-down for the safety of employees. A precautionary move. A wise move.

"Arkansas National Guard troops, 300 who just returned from Iraq, will be in New Orleans tomorrow. Governor Blanco says their weapons are 'locked and loaded' and they will not hesitate to shoot lawbreakers. It's about time.

"The New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, is fighting mad. Federal help got to the Tsunami area than it's getting to New Orleans. He says the feds are thinking small for a problem that is huge. He spared no words. He was livid. And more power to him!

"Some people in shelters are beginning to realize the extent of the damage, and that they likely do not have a home.

"The PMac (Assembly Center) and field house on the LSU campus are now medical facilities. The track is a chopper pad. FEMA is actually building a hospital on the LSU campus to replace 'big' charity hospital in New Orleans that has had five floors of windows blown out, is flooded and has had no power or water since Monday. Finally, patients are being evacuated to other hospitals in the state. Nine New Orleans area hospitals are in a similar situation.

"I'm sitting here watching new video from the Mississippi Gulf coast and it looks like a Hollywood production. A few months after I moved here in 1969, I flew over the Gulf coast and saw the damage from Camille and had no idea Mother Nature could wreak such havoc. This is so much worse.

"Baton Rouge is about 70 miles northwest of New Orleans. We were on the left side of the storm, the milder side. It's the right side that gets the brunt of wind and surging water, along with tornados. In 1965, Betsy hit Louisiana hard and Baton Rouge sustained major damage. In 1992, Andrew hit Louisiana and did a lot of damage. I was living in New Orleans at the time and power was out for a few hours. Some trees were down which stopped the St. Charles streetcars from running for a day. But the next day the cleanup was well underway and life returned to normal for most people in a week or so. A lot of Andrew damage was done by tornados.

"Now on TV there is a NOPD lieutenant who has horror stories about the Superdome where there is no electricity or plumbing. Tens, perhaps hundreds of women were raped in the bathrooms. Men were beaten to death and their bodies thrown about. Superdome Police were evacuated by the National Guard while the refugees remained inside. He said the 'dome' was filled with smoke and the smell of blood and death. And the people in the 'dome' are being bused to the Astrodome in Houston. Does Houston realize what they may be getting? Officials here apparently do since we've heard each bus will have a law enforcement or military troop on board to ensure safety, I can only imagine when this news gets out, and it will, what the rest of the country and the world will think of the people of Louisiana.

"I guess I've rambled on enough. We're high and dry at 'Louisiana Live' and extremely grateful for being so. At 4:57 everyday I close the program with 'Kiss and hug the ones you love.' Now more important than ever."

Again, here's the link to make donations for Hurricane Katrina relief:


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