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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hell on earth

New Orleans is out of control and is in total chaos. WHERE IS FEMA? WHERE IS THE DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY? WHERE IS THE HELP? Why isn't the supplies making it to the people who need it most? If a television crew can reach the people, FEMA can reach them also.

This is a disgrace.

Heavily armed state policemen stood watch Thursday as tense, exhausted and angry crowds struggled onto buses that would deliver them from the miserable conditions of the Superdome.

As buses that arrived hours late were being loaded for the trip to the Houston Astrodome, a crowd broke through a line of National Guardsmen and rushed the glass doors into the Hyatt Regency complex that adjoins the Superdome. They were stopped by 19 heavily armed state policemen -- one had an AR15 rifle and another a 12-gauge shotgun -- all in Kevlar vests.

State police officer K.W. Miller told a reporter, "You better move to the back. This is ready to break. We've been here since 6 a.m. and this is getting worse and worse."

Authorities had said Wednesday that some 25,000 people who had been in the Superdome since Sunday, taking shelter from Hurricane Katrina, would be taken to the Astrodome. The crowds at the New Orleans arena suffered in hot, smelly conditions with few supplies and no air conditioning.

The first buses left late Wednesday, and officials in Texas said that 2,000 people had already arrived at the Astrodome in Houston by late morning Thursday. Besides the 25,000 or so hurricane refugees being brought to Houston, Texas officials said another 25,000 would be taken to San Antonio.

But an angry Terry Ebbert, head of New Orleans' emergency operations, watching the slow procession from the Superdome, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency response was inadequate.

"This is a national disgrace. FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control," Ebbert said. "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans. We have got a mayor who has been pushing and asking but we're not getting supplies."

He said the evacuation was almost entirely a Louisiana operation. "This is not a FEMA operation. I haven't seen a single FEMA guy."

One hundred buses were due to arrive at the Superdome at 6 a.m., but the first buses of the morning didn't get there until more than 3.5 hours later.
What in the hell is going on? Where is the leadership?