September 7, 2005

ninth circle


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

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

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.


Posted by Ian Williams at September 7, 2005 11:20 PM
Posted by: DB at September 7, 2005 9:58 PM

My god.

I'm speechless.

Posted by: C at September 7, 2005 11:50 PM

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?)

Posted by: Kevin from Philadelphia at September 8, 2005 6:19 AM

Stunning, simply stunning.

Posted by: CL at September 8, 2005 6:23 AM

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.

Posted by: Killian at September 8, 2005 6:31 AM

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.

Posted by: Tanya at September 8, 2005 7:19 AM

My God. I'm sitting here with my mouth open.

Posted by: Deb at September 8, 2005 8:04 AM

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.

Posted by: badbob at September 8, 2005 10:30 AM

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)....


Posted by: Chris M at September 8, 2005 11:03 AM

You can also read the above promised, non-political article at:

...because "LARRY BRADSHAW and LORRIE BETH SLONSKY are emergency medical services (EMS) workers from San Francisco and contributors to Socialist Worker. They were attending an EMS conference in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck. They spent most of the next week trapped by the flooding--and the martial law cordon around the city."

When an article begins by framing the situation as the "owners and managers" at Walgreens locked up the food, water,...etc. and then contrast that situation by saying the real s/heroes were "the working class of New Orleans" you know you are going to be hearing the perspective of a genuine socialist. The good news is that, since socialists are ideologically opposed to all police authority *in America* (where it is the violent application of capitalist and racist oppression), they are far less partisan than Democrats. What is the point of attempting to blame everything on the federal goverment just because there happens to be a Republican administration. Socialists also oppose the Democrats, and thus dish the dirt on the La. state guard and NOLA police, too. How's that for fair and balanced!

Posted by: Chris M at September 8, 2005 11:28 AM

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.

Posted by: [fake] badbob at September 8, 2005 11:35 AM

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."

Posted by: LuvDPreznitHateLibruls at September 8, 2005 11:43 AM

Hey Trolls--

Take this fun quiz!

Posted by: Anne D. at September 8, 2005 11:50 AM

Wow. I mean, holy shit. This eyewitness summary speaks volumes about the mess in NOLA -- yes, even when you subtract any possible whiff of "politics," "socialism," or "liberals".

Posted by: badbob at September 8, 2005 12:01 PM

Chris M.- Real badbob (me) apprciates the link.. that backs up my analysis on the reason for the zingers. Good catch on the Socialist angle.

I was just searching for the facts which back up that the local 1st responders and the state (governor and LA HLS) were incompetant and indecisive. I also recognize they area all dems. LOL.

Ain't that funny...getting updates from socialists and all this talk about the finer things in life depicted in xtcian. Heck I'll bet them chicks were really in town for a little carpet munching at Southern Decadence.

re- badbob (phony) Stifling dissent now, eh? I thought I was invited into the "Pink House" now and then..

BoooHooo I'm not a troll.

B2 (the real badbob)

Posted by: Rebecca at September 8, 2005 12:16 PM

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?

Posted by: Ian at September 8, 2005 1:34 PM


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.

Posted by: david at September 8, 2005 2:01 PM

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
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.

Posted by: Bigknob at September 8, 2005 2:09 PM

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.

Posted by: Chris M at September 8, 2005 2:54 PM

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.

Posted by: eric at September 8, 2005 3:28 PM

"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.

Posted by: Ian at September 8, 2005 7:26 PM

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.

Posted by: Chris M at September 8, 2005 7:50 PM

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...

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....

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...

Posted by: Chris M at September 8, 2005 8:05 PM

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.

Posted by: bodbab at September 8, 2005 9:44 PM

I'm badbob, blah-blah-blah...

Do this, do that, blah-blah-blah...

I'm so big, blah-blah-blah...

Posted by: michelle Williams at September 8, 2005 10:46 PM

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.

Posted by: Chris M at September 9, 2005 5:02 AM

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.

Posted by: Grant at September 9, 2005 5:33 AM

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.

Posted by: badbob (real) at September 9, 2005 6:26 AM


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)

Posted by: michelle at September 9, 2005 8:59 AM

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.

Posted by: Seren at September 9, 2005 2:46 PM

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.

Posted by: Maureen at September 9, 2005 5:14 PM

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?

Posted by: Michelle Wyatt at September 10, 2005 11:17 AM

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.

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