I have to confess, first of all, I didn't read all of this.
It hurts my head and breaks my heart.
In my personal thread in announcements, which pretty much outlined my own actions as an "evacuee" (bosh--"refugee" was the proper word to begin with, as I had no place to go)
But if you wanna blame anybody, blame everybody.
Start with the local parish (county) officials, most of whom had to be over ridden to call for mandatory evacuation.
(My first reaction at seven a.m Sunday morning preceding Monday's Katrina landfall, was disbelief--I had never heard the words "mandatory evacuation" in my life--simply because evacuation was previously thought impossible, at best difficult at that point.)
But? I always said, "mandatory" evacuation, means mandatory--and fortunately for me and my family we had the resources and the road atlas acumen to get the hell outta there.
I don't think I understood what we were up against. It took us four hours to get out of the Greater New Orleans Area, and worse? We traveled Highway 90--which followed the path of the storm.
It was somewhere just outside of Morgan City that I understood how serious the situation was...we stopped for gas, and I took my son inside, to buy whatever foodstuffs we could.
It was the first time in my life I had ever been in a store while it was being looted.
My hat is off to the gentleman who risked his life and business to sell gasoline to the evacuees, and I did indeed stand in line to pay for twenty bucks worth of crackers and energy drinks.
The outer bands of the storms were just hitting, and folks, we were scared.
I had previously thought of spending the night at a rest stop, until I saw that crowd.
It wasn't pretty.
I knew that there was no such thing as a "rest" stop that night.
So then we made that loop to get back on the highway, and made more progress riding the shoulder than we had for the last four hours.
Um, we took every other exit after that and rode the shoulder every chance we got after that.
Then a miracle call on the cellphone. (Remember when cellphones worked?)
My brother in law, Mark, told us to take a backroad into Crowley, where we stayed with his brother (who also happens to be the former bass player for the band we'd hung with--weird, I know, but that's how it was) and we found "refuge" in a trailer, but were told on arriving, "Don't unpack--we may have to evacuate too."
So we sat in their homey little tin can, and watched CNN.
When it became obvious I was the resident insomniac, I was put on "alert".
If the storm took that edge toward Crowley, it was my job to wake everyone and get us all on the road.
I almost DID wake everyone, but not because the storm was endangering us, but because I heard a report on CNN at about three a.m.--and a nurse from Charity Hospital, she stated that the levee had been breached, and water was rising at the rate of an inch every five minutes.
Now I'm not engineer, I'm not a politician, I don't know a damn thing about too much, but I knew my city was dying.
I sat there for three hours, watching, with the same horror I felt watching Waco Burn.
"Where was everybody?"
I wanted to wake everyone up, but then I thought "why?"
So I just cried into a pillow and let everyone sleep.
Now if I knew this, why didn't every emergency official on duty know it?
I saw later Mayor Nagin passing blame too.
Somebody can edit this, but he is an [edited by Alicat].
He sent people to unmanned evacuation centers, while buses, did indeed sit drowning in the flood waters. He accused the surrounding parishes of racism--shaking my head here--I happen to own property in two parishes, and Gretna, has Mayor Ronnie Harris defended himself, had a plan.
They seal off the city in emergency situations.
Yes, there were armed policemen and attack dogs at the foots of the bridges to the surrounding parishes, but what Nagin failed to mention were the BUSES, which took the poor people who managed to make that five mile march across the bridge to the Westwego Alario Center, before evacuating them to the Cajundome, the Astrodome, etc.
Nagin can be "pissed", I say.
He sat in the interior room on the 17th floor of the Hyatt, being outraged.
(Don't even get me started on Compass.)
I have been saying in this forum, "New Orleans is going to explode before this summer is over" and oh such was wisdom from "moi"--I am just a simple citizen--who slept with .38 under her pillow.
Louisiana politics IS notorious for bovine excrement [edited by Alicat].
But I always counted on the Federal Gov't to figure out the muck.
(Good luck in St. Bernard, Feds. The Muck is all that is left there.)
Did somebody drop the ball?
Hell...it wasn't a ballgame at all.
It was mudwrestling.
We lived in a city we thought had levee protection for Category Four surges.
We were wrong.
I rode out Rita in Crowley too. Not out of bravado, but because there was no place to go.
And when Governor Blanco told the citizens who refused to evacuate to write their social security numbers on their skin in indelible ink, I did.
The only part I thought was a joke, was that she thought that would survive floodwaters.
I know what water does to bodies.
So I wrote in on a glow in the dark whistle wrist band too. (Thanks Charly. )
The first thing I read regarding the problem of displaced persons was in a Lafayette newspaper and oh-I-wish-I-could quote the author.
But if I may, I'll paraphrase--
"There was no plan for this many displaced families--no one expected this many to survive."
I give applause to the Coast Guard and the National Guard.
And I would simply be shamed if I didn't mention the many Pip people who came to my personal aid.
As much as my little diatribe reeks bitterness, please know I am amazed at all the goodness that came out of people in the most trying of circumstances--survival.
(Remind me to tell ya about the right side of Rita in a Rice Field....ooooh I smell poetry! )
[This message has been edited by Alicat (10-07-2005 07:49 PM).]