Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

New Orleans Stories -- Hurricane Katrina.

** 25th update, Sun. Sept. 4th, 12:00 pm CDT **

After a week of updates from within New Orleans in one post, I'm ending this thread... with good news, too.

alobar is finally, finally out of New Orleans.

From his journal - "Alobar called from Ark. They took him to Fort Smith. Where there were about 20,000 people to process he estimates. He simply walked off the base & hitched to the Greyhound & got himself a ticket to Austin. He'll be here early tmrw. morning. He'd tired, dirty, has the runs & high blood sugar but is generally ok. We'll see to his leg when he gets here. He notes that he thinks there were about 700 buses in NOLA getting people out. He got video. I have a list of food & supplies for him & I'm off to get them."

Somehow, LJ cut off the end of this post, thereby losing the first 9 hurricane posts. I'm pretty irked about that, but if I can rebuild it somehow, I will do so. It's not like there isn't plenty of other rebuilding that needs to happen which is of more importance.

If you haven't donated to disaster relief, now's a good time to do so. Links are available at the top of my journal.

** 24th update, Fri. Sept. 2nd, 8:00 pm CDT **

So, where do I begin? How about with the toughest evacuation story I've heard so far...

changingthesky has made it out alive! blastmilk says:
"Liz is ok! I'm still crying with relief. Bat just called, she only had like a minute on the phone with Liz. She's in Baton Rouge. She walked out of the city, presumably with friends, with her cats and luggage in a grocery cart. She walked all the way to Baton Rouge, which is about 80 miles. All she said was that it was awful. She's going to Houston, her job is going to take care of her until she figures out what to do. I'm sure we'll hear from her very soon with more details once she can communicate. She said she was interviewed for Dateline for tonight, so I'll watch and tape if she is. I'm so devastated and happy. Still no word on Michele... the trauma of just thinking about is breaking my heart and yet I'm so proud of her, so in awe. I can't stop crying."

Just heard that phantom_blood is okay. They were going to ride out the storm, but changed their mind at the last minute and successfully evacuated to Florida. Good call!

marigoldg is also reporting that dreamflower02 has been found! They tracked her down thanks to a forum at the Sun Herald.

strangelet also made it out alive, leaving behind her beloved Flanagan's Pub. She has words for those who were rough on her for not leaving earlier.

"Whether you think I'm a stupid bitch for staying or not, the fact remains that because of us staying dozens of people got fed for free on Monday and early Tuesday as we cooked up the food in our kitchen and served it without asking for money. People were able to come and get water, food, drinks and good spirits because we stayed. And when we did decide to leave, we took people with us that otherwise had no means of getting out of the city, even though they were piled on top of each other in the van and we had to drill holes in abandoned cars' gas tanks to get enough fuel to leave the city. We were on the road for the past two days, dropping people off where they needed to go, staying with friends and family, or catching flights home. You may think Flanagan's is just a bar to me and that we only stayed so we could "party" or something. We stayed because it is OUR FUCKING BUSINESS. Our lifeblood, our home and our family. We couldn't leave it any sooner than you'd chop off your own arm. It was hard enough to do it out of absolute necessity, and god only knows if there will even be anything to come back to. Not to mention the people I know who may or may not still be there that I couldn't take with me because they weren't holed up with us, and I hope with all my heart that they are all alive and well and will be in touch when they can be. Sooner or later, everyone has a life changing event, catastrophic or otherwise. At least I got to choose mine. I chose to stay and I chose to hope and I chose to help. We didn't hurt anyone and we defended those who stayed with us from anyone hurting them. No matter what you say, you can't take that away from me."

voratus is alright, and is going to try to get out of town tomorrow morning. He left a phone post indicating he has about enough gas to get to Baton Rouge, but not much more. They're currently trying to get ahold of crazygringo in the hope of getting him out too and somehow finding more gas for the ride.

One of the doctors at a medical convention at the Ritz -- a Gregory S. Henderson MD, PhD -- sent an email to a friend of a LiveJournaler:

Thanks to all of you who have sent your notes of concern and your prayers. I am writing this note on Tuesday at 2PM . I wanted to update all of you as to the situation here. I don't know how much information you are getting but I am certain it is more than we are getting. Be advised that almost everything I am telling you is from direct observation or rumor from reasonable sources. They are allowing limited internet access, so I hope to send this dispatch today.

Personally, my family and I are fine. My family is safe in Jackson, MS, and I am now a temporary resident of the Ritz Carleton Hotel in New Orleans. I figured if it was my time to go, I wanted to go in a place with a good wine list. In addition, this hotel is in a very old building on Canal Street that could and did sustain little damage. Many of the other hotels sustained significant loss of windows, and we expect that many of the guests may be evacuated here.

Things were obviously bad yesterday, but they are much worse today.

Overnight the water arrived. Now Canal Street (true to its origins) is indeed a canal. The first floor of all downtown buildings is underwater. I have heard that Charity Hospital and Tulane are limited in their ability to care for patients because of water. Ochsner is the only hospital that remains fully functional. However, I spoke with them today and they too are on generator and losing food and water fast. The city now has no clean water, no sewerage system, no electricity, and no real communications. Bodies are still being recovered floating in the floods. We are worried about a cholera epidemic. Even the police are without effective communications. We have a group of armed police here with us at the hotel that are admirably trying to exert some local law enforcement. This is tough because looting is now rampant. Most of it is not malicious looting. These are poor and desperate people with no housing and no medical care and no food or water trying to take care of themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the people are armed and dangerous. We hear gunshots frequently. Most of Canal street is occupied by armed looters who have a low threshold for discharging their weapons. We hear gunshots frequently. The looters are using makeshift boats made of pieces of styrofoam to access. We are still waiting for a significant national guard presence.

The health care situation here has dramatically worsened overnight. Many people in the hotel are elderly and small children. There are ID physicians in at this hotel attending an HiV confection. We have commandered the world famous French Quarter Bar to turn into an makeshift clinic. There is a team of about 7 doctors and PA and pharmacists. We anticipate that this will be the major medical facility in the central business district and French Quarter.

Our biggest adventure today was raiding the Walgreens on Canal under police escort. The pharmacy was dark and fulll of water. We basically scooped the entire drug sets into gargace bags and removed them. All under police excort. The looters had to be held back at gun point. After a dose of prophylactic Cipro I hope to be fine.

In all we are faring well. We have set up a hospital in the the French Qarter bar in the hotel, and will start admitting patients today. Many with be from the hotel, but many with not. We are anticipating to dealing with multiple medical problems, medications and and acute injuries. Infection and perhaps even cholera are anticipated major problems. Food and water shortages are iminent.

The biggest question to all of us is where is the national guard. We hear jet fighters and helicopters, but no real armed presence, and hence the rampant looting. There is no Red Cross and no Salvation Army.

In a sort of cliché way, this is an edifying experience. Once is rapidly focused away from the transient and material to the bare necessities of life. It has been challenging to me to learn how to be a primary care phyisican. We are under martial law so return to our homes is impossible. I don't know how long it will be and this is my greatest fear. Despite it all, this is a soul edify experience. The greatest pain is to think about the loss. And how long the rebuild will. And the horror of so many dead people .

PLEASE SEND THIS DISPATCH TO ALL YOU THING MAY BE INTERSTED IN A DISPATCH From the front. I will send more according to your interest. Hopefully their collective prayers will be answered. By the way suture packs, sterile gloves and stethoscopes will be needed as the Ritz turns into a MASH.

xtina - "I'm alive. Safe. In Slidell. No power, but running water. My family is fine. My house is okay, but four pine trees fell in the back yard, taking out the fence, patio cover, etc. We cook food on the grill and burn candles. I finished East of Eden in 3 days, and have an assload of scrap wire from the telephone company to keep me occupied. I bike it a lot. I have a tan. This sucks. It's depressing, but I hope everyone is okay. This is just my "I'm alive post."

evilpolkamuse says: "Just wanted to let those of you who were also worried about him...I heard from Michael Williams last night! He apparently floated from Mid-City down to lower Decatur, Huck Finn style, and is safe at his favorite watering hole with Jim Monaghan and firearms. They even have a working landline! He said the water was neck high, and he passed one body along the way."

alobar - "Alobar has gotten his rations for the day. He sounds well. He has scored some clean cloth napkins & vodka to tend his leg. He has supplements to help deal with a diet higher in carbs that he usually allows himself. There are 1000-3000 soldiers he estimates & they are sorting out the trouble makers.
Things are fairly calm. Hard to say when buses will come or how much food will be given out, but it seems like things are coming under control. Alobar wants me to write Octavia Butler & thank her for imparting some social skills relating to times of crises to him :) He couldn't give me his address but said it was up Convention Center Blvd just left off the street. He seems in good spirits. He expects to be in San Antonio in the next few days. I have passed on your wishes and your generous offers of support & he is touched."

One person emailed me to suggest a shelter solution for some of the New Orleans evacuees. She lives near Kansas City, MO, where the city recently closed down several schools due to budget cuts. She suggests that her city use the closed schools as semi-permanent shelter for families. Of course, Kansas City isn't the only such place in America with closed schools and other city properties which could make good semi-permanent residences... most likely, places even closer to New Orleans. Hopefully, there will be some sort of call out to the cities, asking them about such structures, and allowing the people of New Orleans to get on with their lives again as soon as possible.

** 23rd update, Fri. Sept. 2nd, 1:15 pm CDT **

Here is an update I was emailed on the situation getting people out of New Orleans:

As much of the information coming from the media and the governing bodies tasked with operating the rescue effort is misleading, those concerned must take it upon themselves to share FACTUAL experiences of those inside the disaster area and those trying to reach friends. I say this because faulty information, some of it supposedly issued by Mayor Nagin himself, casued me to send my two friends walking over the Crescent City Connection twice yesterday, both trips ending with guns pointed at them and being told to go back to the Convention Center.

Not only this experience, but reports of violence and destruction on the West Bank would lead me to believe that walking across the CCC is an unworkable solution and should be dropped immediately. The first and maybe best option in this hour is to stay at the Convention Center and wait for busses. I've been told by the Louisiana Governor's office that busses are scheduled to pick people up there, but there is a priority list per NEED for evacuation. They are evac'ing those from the hospitals first, followed by those in the worst flooded areas and then those that have been recieving supply drops inside the city.

As of 6pm yesterday evening, my friends reported that the mood at the Convention Center was calm, regarding the situation they were in. They apparently recieved MREs at one point and when he was on the phone with me, he mentioned that with all the cooks holed up there, a group of them were cooking up jambalaya in one of the kitchens to give to the refugees. He said he had reason to believe that things would be a lot worse come Friday night. People have been waiting there for three and four days. They've followed order on what the relief effort wants them to do. The people that are in charge of this operation(?) need to come forward and take care of business. I feel that all I can do right now is wait and see where they are bussed to and pick them up from there, which brings me to my next point.

If you're going to help your friends out of this, you're going to need a plan. I wanted to head down there two days ago, but I'm glad I didn't. I'd have only got myself in trouble. You need to know how far out your going to be able to get gas. I'm going north to south, leaving St. Louis. I haven't been able to get in touch with Mississippi Highway Patrol, but information from Tennessee leads me to believe that there's no gas within a 300 mi. radius from the New Orleans area. Another friend that made it to Destin mentioned that they were running out as well and that's roughly 250 miles out. You won't be able to help anyone out if you run out of gas and then someone will have to help you and I'm sure they'll consider you low on the list of priorities since you've probably had food and water in the last 24hrs. I plan to bring food and water for my friends and more for refugees if I can and you should do the same.

The situation is changing by the hour. I was told by the La. Gov's office that they would continue with the supply drops to the Convention Center until the time at which they are bussed out. As concerned citizens, this should be our first priority. We don't want this thing escalating into another "Superdome." Bad as it is to feel like we're almost having to run the command center, we've got to work with the agencies tasked with getting our friends and loved ones out of this.

padiwack - "My friend Cheryl is a Jefferson Parish deputy. I spoke with her this am- she told me there are dead bodies on my street - they also found a 7 year old huddled under a stairwell, she had beeb raped and left for dead. Cheryl's husband, Jay refused to leave her, so he was deputized and given a gun. They tell me there is nothing,nothing,nothing to come back for."

interdictor - "Just saw 2 CH-53E Super Stallion Helicopters pass by overhead, and now on cam you can see what looks like a whole batallion of troops roll toward the Convention Center. . . This convoy coming down the street is loaded with supplies. I see MREs and water and I assume ice. Ok, so the troops used to restore order went in first and now the supplies are coming for orderly distribution (I hope). Hope is on the way for the people at the Convention Center. Finally."

This actually fits in well with something I heard yesterday evening from an LJ friend in the Marines:
"As far as we are concerned, right now we're sitting and waiting. Some of our logistics guys were going to head down, but that's not happening. The proverbial "they" has put out a request for generator mechanics and some other utility types, and there are four CH-53E helicopters down there now. Those are capable of holding 80 people and/or lifting 15 tons, so who knows what they'll be doing. I reckon if the situation continues to worsen maybe things will change, but for now, we sit and wait."

Just heard something during a press conference, though... something about Chinook helicopters and the mission being compromised because too many people are fighting to get out. I hope they're not giving up again.

Heard back finally from thesexgod, who hadn't been heard since the hurricane until now.

"Okay. So. I'm still not dead, unfortunately. Anyway. Here's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Me, Ingrid, Billy, and Shashank tried to get out of the city, only to find out that it was gridlocked. We went to stay with my mom at Oschner hospital, where we were volunteers. Billy went into super man mode. I just tried to keep myself from breaking down. Ingrid was obviously upset. Shashank didn't know how to feel, though I caught him crying once. You know, when I toured him around the city, I never thought it would be the last time I would see it that way. The hurricane hits. The entire building is fine until the eyewall is upon us. Then, while I stare out the window down into the atrium, a pane of glass off the roof of the atrium shatters and the shards fly down, hitting the window I'm looking through. I jump back screaming in a rather Chicken Little manner that the Atrium is caving and I make everyone go into the hallway. Besides that. I don't know. Shit was crazy. We didn't die. The hospital was running out of food. Our neighbors were running out of diapers. Life was difficult. Okay. Shit goes awry. Me and Billy looted food and toiletries. My mom goes insane. We leave town and go to Baton Rouge. I could explain in more detail, but I frankly just don't give a fuck enough to. Shashank left for New York. Ingrid went to Alexandria with her brothers and father. Me and Billy... well... Where else would I go? St.Francisville. We're going to try and get Billy hooked up with some correspondance courses through LSU and get his diploma. I got my old job back at Birdman Coffee and Books. Both James' parents and Jess say that we can stay at either of their homes for a while. The night before last, me and Billy fell asleep on Jess' pull out sofa. I couldn't hold it in much more, towards the middle of the night I started sobbing. Having nightmares. Billy held me while I cried. I am grateful to have him. Yesterday we went to the thrift store and bought clothes. We also went to kinkos and got some things, like our hospital bracelets, laminated. While we were there, we scanned a picture of us holding hands wearing the bracelets. We were really sad that Ingrid and Shashank couldn't be there... Then we went to James' house and watched The Princess Bride. Billy made a map of all the flooded areas in the city using an old road map. I think I might have started smoking. I'm so depressed and jittery. Yeah. This morning I woke up on James' sofa with a cat curled up on my head. I sat up and walked into James' room and we talked. He said he had to poop. I curled up with Billy for a bit only to find out that he has a headache, poor dear. Then, I went and sat outside to watch the antics of three little hummingbirds and a big blue jay. The grass is green. The weather is beautiful. I don't feel so alone. Andrew is here. James and Adam are here for now. Jess is here. Robi is here. I'm good. Depressed. But good. I wonder about Cat. I worry about Dev. I don't know what else to think about. I know the whereabouts of everyone else. Today I think I'm going to procure a second job at Rosedown, followed with much hanging out with James and Adam not soured by my own stupid depression. Or, maybe, I'll go hang out with Stephen Buccola and drink myself stupid.I keep crying and I hate it. I'd rather be dead than depressed. I hate it! New Orleans right now is, to me, like that boyfriend who broke up with you. You don't want to leave, but you kind of have to. You still hang out with his friends (Baton Rouge, Huston, Florida, St.Francisville), but eventually, when you can't stand to hear people talk about him any more, you want to start hanging out with people who don't know him so well (New York, California, Europe). That's how I'm feeling right now. I'll hang out around here for a while, but I'm bolting ASAP. To hear what's happening in New Orleans right now makes me want to commit suicide. Fuck the world."

** 22nd update, Fri. Sept. 2nd, 10:45 am CDT **

There have been a lot of federal screw ups that have actively helped to destroy New Orleans and kill people... and New Orleans Mayor Nagin just told them what for.

Not so many posts from inside New Orleans right now to report on... which is a good thing, I guess. You don't want people in that hellhole right now. You wouldn't wish it upon an enemy. Well, Bush maybe... and the director of FEMA he foisted upon us, whose previous claim to fame was being a lawyer who got fired for being "an unmitigated, total fucking disaster" while serving as councel for the International Arabian Horse Association. No kidding. The way this is shaping up, they might've well asked the four horsemen of the apocalypse to run FEMA.

And where the hell is the military? I know a Marine who was put "on alert" a day or two too late, but nobody's pulled the damn trigger yet. Still! Not good enough. Groups and organizations that aren't FEMA are being turned away from helping. Canadian search and rescue teams stopped at the border, etc.

The problem here is that we've got bureaucratic centralization going on which is actively preventing independent -- and usually more effective -- organizations and people from doing the work that everyone knows needs to get done, while at the same time, dragging their feet and understating the help that is needed right away. If you've read FEMA's previous alerts -- which I did the other day -- you'll see them talk a helluva lot about how they want an infrastructure where they control all the decisions at the expense of the little guy. That's bullshit. If you want to solve the problem, you get 40,000 soldiers and police down there, hundreds of buses, hundreds of trucks, you establish security, and if someone wants to go into the city to help out or evacuate someone they know is there, you have someone listen to them, see if their plan is reasonable, and then help them execute on it, escorting them in and out.

This problem is too big for the bureaucrats. You need a more distributed means of addressing the problems, even if it means a little chaos. In a working city, you don't know what the grocer is doing, but you know there'll be food at the supermarket... and if not at one supermarket, then certainly at another.

interdictor - "Teams Alpha and Bravo finished the medium range recon and there are 3 separate locations on fire. We have pictures coming shortly. During the recon, I spoke to some Federal Marshalls and NOPD. Morale is LOW. Very low. They're not seeing the military presence they say they were promised. I told those guys they can't possibly imagine how much we (the world) appreciate their dedication. I asked what civil rights the citizens have and the US Marshalls looked at me like I just fell off the turnip truck and chuckled. I asked if citizens can have guns for protection and he said if someone thinks he needs a gun, he should have already evacuated. He also said they are setting the city on fire. The NOPD wants to know where "the two active duty brigades" were that he says they were told were supposed to arrive today. When I asked him what he would want to tell the world, he said Everyone keeps talking about the military presence in the city, and then asked me," Do you see any military around here" in dusgust. We reconned our roof also, to get a better view of the city and took... I hesitate to call them "amazing" pictures. My city... it has been punched in the face and is on the canvas being counted out. And yes, that's smoke you see out of the windows. The city is under a haze from the fires. Smoke and ash are floating miles away from the fires."

alobar - "Alobar is with a good group in a parking garage near the convention center. 11 people, of which two are teens , one a child, & one street performer (the only person Alobar knows in the group & the one who invited him in) They are keeping their heads. They've looted a little water & food. Cops are not letting people out of the area once they enter. It's effectively a concentration camp. Violence is minimal-- most people are pulling together & helping each other. He's had a little water & one MRE. He has no way to care for his leg. His group has a sanitation bucket & is keeping the parking garage swept clean. People are going around offering water & food they loot to other survivors with mantras of "may you never thirst" and "fear is the mind killer". They tried for the bridge but no buses of course & the Gretna police are turning refugees back-- keeping people effectively pinned in the area. You all know about the explosions. He sounds well for now. People recognize him & he reports how friendly & supportive most everyone is... trying to keep morale high. Rumors are that the cops will try to force them to move en masse before War Criminal Bush gets there, but that will be impossible. Some buses did turn up at the convention center yesterday but they were without guards/ support & had to turn back. What was it you were saying , Patrick about this being a hell of a crucible to form intentional community in? Well, it is hellish & nonetheless intentional communities are forming. . . . Alobar is a walk away from his home: where he has necessary, life saving medical supplies and water. And they won't let him or anyone else leave. Armed police are keeping people penned in areas without sanitation, food, or water in this heat & with no idea when such supples will arrive. And people are dying. You read that as you will. I am going to make every effort to keep this LJ centered around factual reporting of what's going on & how Alobar is. But I am enraged."

** 21st update, Fri. Sept. 2nd, 2:15 am CDT **

New Orleans. Looting, raping, pillaging... but no pirates, unfortunately. Sure, it sounds bad, but it will get better. New Orleans is not Baghdad. There's nothing wrong with it that can't be fixed. Give these people a choice between returning to civilization or dying like dogs, and everyone of them will choose civilization... at least, everyone that counts.

I just typed a long post that LJ ate. Not happy. You get the abrieviated me.

I heard tonight today that Alex Chilton rode out the storm, but may be missing. I also just heard that nobody knows whether Robert Asprin left New Orleans or not. I grew up reading Asprin's Myth Inc. series, and Big Star's Sister Lovers is arguably my favorite album. I'm damn pretty sad about this -- listening to Sister Lovers in a sentimental mood can do that to you -- but I'm calling in help to find out what's up. (It's good to have contacts!)

I did want to take the time to tell Dennis Hastert that he can go to hell. New Orleans WILL rebuild. I don't care if it is a little toxic... that's what rain is for. It's not just a matter of the pride of a city. It's a matter of NATIONAL pride -- in a far more unified way than Iraq ever could be. New Orleans will not be done "on the cheap" if I or my 250,000,000 friends have anything to say about it.

Infact, New Orleans needs a serious national monument. San Francisco has the Golden Gate. New York has the statue of Liberty. Seattle has a pointy thing. That other city has an unfinished McDonalds sign. New Orleans needs a national monument, and what better time to plan such a thing than now? It should be classically classy, I think. Hell, rebuild the Colossus of Rhodes, straddling the Mississippi. Just don't make it cheap. New Orleans will need the work and deserves the money and commitment. If we can spend hundreds of billions in Iraq, we can spare the money for an honest-to-god masterwork in New Orleans.

Give to the Red Cross... or anyone who needs help. Lord knows there are plenty of those around in neworleans.

I've had a long day. I'll update more tomorrow. mahalo.

** 20th update, Thurs. Sept. 1st, 11:45 am CDT **

New Orleans is a mess, of course. Looting, relief helicopters supposedly being shot at (though I would think that there's a chance some idiot was trying to signal them), arson, etc. Horrible, but have no doubt... order is going to be restored. Lots of resources are on the way.

There's some kind of unified Katrina relief day for weblogs today, but I've been encouraging people for days to give to the Red Cross. Every day is a good day to help others.

That said, the most efficient way to help others is directly. Here's a good chance to do just that:

morrigann - "So many people have asked how they can help. Right now our immediate concern is the cost of renting a car and getting fuel on the way to our destination. Then we have to consider clothing etc. We have a place to stay in ohio and we have the money to rent the car. The fuel and if we have to stop along the way at ahotel is the thing that is gonna be iffy. We have unlimited miles and a week with the car so we are going to see a few frinds and family along the way if possible to let them see for themselves we are truly allright. So if you are so inclined to donate to the cause my paypal info is"

alobar - "I've told Alobar about the armed looting & mobs. The FQ is quiet now & he's walking to the convention center in search of armed authorities . . . Alobar did see cops looting the A&P in the FQ. & people making off with booze. Lady B reports that the stories of Charity Hospital being looted are not verified. Mostly I suspect it's people looting what they think they may need to survive. But New Orleans is full people living their whole lives well below the poverty level-- hand to mouth- for those of you who don't know. Desperation is like air there & these are people are the breaking point. People at the Dome were standing in 3 feet of filthy contaminated water. Many of the outlying areas of the city are just *gone* period, so more people keep pouring in."

marcikay - "Last I heard from Dorey was they were loading the truck and were going to leave the city last night headed for Baton Rouge. Haven't heard anything since. She has my brother's number and his girlfriend's number but even I can't really get thru to them. Does anyone have any info on shelters in Baton Rouge, or animal shelters as they might be at one of those."

interdictor - "There is a mass exodus for the Mississippi River Bridges (Crescent City Connection) from the CBD. We are not sure what's going on, but we are assuming until we hear differently that people are fleeing the city. So if you're watching the feeds, that's what you're seeing -- throngs of people moving toward the bridges. . . The National Guard, FEMA, the NOPD, and City authorities DO NOT have the city under control. There are live radio feeds for the National Guard comms and NOPD comms which have been circulating the web, and you can listen to the chaos and disarray for yourselves. I am not going to post the links, but I'm sure others have and will. I doubt the government's ability to reestablish order without a full active duty military presence to crush the mob mentality. This of course will mean no civil rights and everyone being treated equally -- as a criminal."

** 19th update, Wed. August 31st, 4:45 pm CDT **

Good news and bad news. The Twin Bridges are essentially gone, but water levels are stable for those areas the levees have flooded, and are falling elsewhere. There is looting, yes, but there's an awful lot of help pouring in to New Orleans, and I suspect things will stabilize a lot sooner than many would suspect.

The mayor of New Orleans, when asked how many died, said "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands." Horrible to hear, but not a surprise, given my earlier estimate of up to 100,000 people who stayed behind to ride out the hurricane. Mayor Nagin is putting this number at between 50,000 to 100,000; I would suspect it's on the higher end of this range. The neworleans community is full of people seeking the whereabouts of friends, family, loved ones, and neighbors, and has links to many other, much larger lists.

I discovered today that the tragedy was far closer to me than I realised. My partner and love noressa wasn't aware at the time, but apparently her godparents were living in Gulfport. They evacuated in time and are okay, but have lost everything. We need to figure out what their situation is, and then see what can be done to help them. If anyone has any leads on what steps they should take next, please leave a comment and let me know.

morrigann - "our house is underwater... we lost everything but we are now safe outside of baton rouge with some poeple we met at the place we found shelter. Thank god for live journal because someone from lj took us in sight unseen. We will be renting a car with any luck and heading to ohio for a while we cannot go back for a month or more anyway. I will keep you updated. At least we are alive and safe."

padiwack - "We rode out the storm,which was pretty damned scary (and I have seen some storms!) But afterward, it was miserable, the air was hot & still and even standing under a cold shower (we still had running water-you just can't drink it)offered no relief. We heard from some of the police that live near us, they told us it was NOT SAFE- the local Walmart had been looted for guns and drugs. We convoyed out and are staying at a dear friends house right now. He is bringing his new boat from North Carolina, so his house is empty anyway right now. We are very, very lucky. Everything is up in the air."

zeldakitty - "lisalog here, giving everyone an update on Michele. . . The good news first: Michele and S. are fine, and their house was not damaged in the hurricane. They live in a neighborhood that is 6 feet above sea level, so they have been spared the worst of the flooding... in fact, when I spoke to her yesterday, there was no standing water on the property at all. She and S. have enough food to last them a while, but they don't have much water. They've been boiling what they need. The bad news: New Orleans is in a state of utter chaos. Communication is difficult. Michele was able to hear some news reports via radio, but most communication is happening by word of mouth. Criminal activity is rampant and people are becoming more aggressive... one policeman was shot in the head by a looter and Michele mentioned some looters using forklifts to break down the doors of peoples' homes. . . She half-joked about putting up a "looters will be shot" sign on her front door, but once the sun goes down it is so dark (what with the power being out) that it would be impossible to see the sign anyway. Her mother tried to leave the city last night, but I'm not sure if she was successful or not. I called Michele again this morning, around 9:30 am central standard time, and she and S. were trying to get out. The situation has become very grim. The looting and criminal activity has gotten worse. Roads leading out of the city are blocked by debris, and Michele only has a half tank of gas in her car. Her dog Jack is ailing, and she is not sure if he'll make it. I'm not a praying woman, but I'm praying now. I hope she, S., and their beloved pets are able to get out of the city safely."

alobar - "Alobar was unable to find any rescue workers. People are wading from the FQ thru water toward the Dome. He & I agree that with an open diabetic cut he will be doing no such fucking thing. My best guess is that authorities believe the FQ will remain largely dry & they will evac people from there after dealing with larger emergencies elsewhere. So for now, I am encouraging Alobar to stay put & venture forth in search of official word now & again. He has water for the day. There is no sign of violence or looting in his part of the FQ (near the square). Just people bugging out of the area with what they can carry."

marcikay - "talked to dorey again (at 1800 block of Magazine). She is freaked out. The water had not reached them yet, but it was in neighborhoods all around them including some uptown, so they are basically getting surrounded. They heard looters all night. breaking glass, shooting guns, etc. They moved to of their most aggressive dogs into the lobby of the building to keep people from getting in. Dorey, the picture of calm, said dryly, *marci, new orleans is gone. its gone* They have a truck coming in to get them and the animals to Baton Rouge. I gave her my brother's number and he has agreed to let her stay there as long as she needs to. I just want her to get the fuck out of that city. This is like a bad fucking movie."

** 18th update, Wed. August 31st, 7:45 am CDT **

Good morning everyone. The mayor of New Orleans talked to WWL (video) and gave them a lot of the details on what is going on.

New Orleans is still flooding -- apparently, the 300 lb. sandbags which were promised never arrived, due to bureaucratic snafus, leading to the cessation of attempts to plug the levee last night. The Army Corps of Engineers don't know how long it will take to get the water out of the city.

I just read this article about how the Bush administration has been cutting funding for the Army Corps of Engineers projects around New Orleans for years, which makes you wonder whether this level of damage could've been avoided. This article, written in June of this year, is absolutely damning, in retrospect:

The New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding. . . the largest single-year funding loss ever . . . I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. I think part of the problem is it's not so much the reduction, it's the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. . . . The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved . . . the New Orleans district, which employs 1,300 people, instituted a hiring freeze last month . . . the first of its kind in about 10 years. . . One of the hardest-hit areas of the New Orleans district's budget is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project. . . designed to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. SELA's budget is being drained from $36.5 million awarded in 2005 to $10.4 million suggested for 2006 by the House of Representatives and the president.

(Senator) Landrieu said the Bush administration is not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority.

"I think it's extremely shortsighted. When the Corps of Engineers' budget is cut, Louisiana bleeds. These projects are literally life-and-death projects to the people of south Louisiana and they are (of) vital economic interest to the entire nation."

Conditions are deteriorating in New Orleans hospitals, which may soon need to be evacuated. That said, lots of help is enroute to the area, assuming they'll have anywhere nearby to work from.

One of my LJ friends from before the hurricane, firemanjason, says:

"Good Morning. It is 6am. I have been up since 5am. Next Stop Vicksburg Harbor, then on to Baton Rouge. We are going 10 mph downriver with the fleet in tow. . . I do not know when I will be able to update again. I am going where cellphone coverage does not exist. I will speak with you all later."

He is scheduled to be in New Orleans by Thursday morning, bringing medical supplies and FEMA personnel aboard a fleet of rescue vessels. And to think, he once asked me why I would read his journal and add him as a friend. Way to go, Jason!

I also heard privately from a Marine on my friend's list who recently returned from Iraq. Looks like they might find themselves entering another war zone soon...

marcikay - "I got a call from dorey . . . by some miracle they had their land line still working and have been able to call out so at least people know where they are. They had just heard of the levee break and were preparing to move to the higher floors if necessary when the water began to reach them.
She said she would try to call tonight (which she didn't) or tomorrow if possible, though I do not think it will be. I've sent a message to the US Humane society with their info and they have responded that they are going to look into the matter. I don't know if it will help, but hopefully they will be able to be evacuated soon. When she is out of the city I will be asking for donations to help her and her family as they have more than likely lost everything. She said she saw her old apartment (which is in the same neighborhood) and the roof had collapsed in her bedroom over her bed. Her new apartment (which she was supposed to move into yesterday) is in one of the areas that is reportedly under 10+ feet of water so there is little hope that it will be there when this is all over. she is a college student who works two jobs and has no savings. If anyone wants to donate anything, please let me know, though right now the best thing people can do is pray that she makes it out of the city soon."

malkierie - "I just talked to John and he is going to stay put and wait for rescue with his family. They are placing a white sheet on the roof of the building at 7329 oak st near river road. and not leaving. River road looks dry but it is not... OCHSNER is under water."

interdictor - "Since it's war out there, I figure it's time to go back to my military ways. Camp Crystal is locked down for the night. Team SOTI (that's the crew up here) has broken up into 3 squads. Squad 1 is on diesel detail. Squad 2 is on patrol. Squad 3 is on service and support. The Final Protective Line is Poydras Avenue. All avenues of approach are secure. Stand to is at 0600. The cops were out in force on Poydras until just a few moments ago. Not sure what they were up to. . . I've been moving and dumping 55 gallon drums all day. It's back breaking work, but it's a good thing I've got a strong back. I haven't fooled with that much diesel since I was on shit-burning detail in the first Gulf War. . . . So here at Outpost Crystal, we're set pretty good. Thanks for the heads up on the 12-15 feet of water that you guys are telling me I can expect in the CBD tomorrow. That's fine, I'm trained for water operations too. I appreciate all the recommendations, but we're not going. . . . These diesel fumes are a pain in the ass. I bet I've killed 10,000 braincells today, and if you know me, you know I don't have any to spare."

scyllacat - "I spoke to Kat on the phone today. She's fine, after a very harrowing experience (the building really did fall down around her!). The French Quarter has not been flooded, though it's now an island in the midst of a vast toxic swamp. They're not letting anyone in or out until they get the pumps and levies repaired, which will probably take several days. Meanwhile, she has a warm, safe place to sleep, food, etc. Kitty safe. :-) Thanks to all who have sent their prayers and good wishes. I know they helped."

bobbysan - "No luck getting out of town so far. Will keep trying. Battery is about to die. Take cate all."

** 17th update, Wed. August 31st, 12:30 am CDT **

Admittedly, it would be more appropriate for a massive disaster in New Jersey, but you take what you can get. New Orleans has certainly been seized and plunged into the vat. Infact, New Orleans *IS* the vat... and arguably, by having a levee break, it's "drinking" polluted water.

News is even darker from Gulfport and Biloxi. Take a look at this video... and if you're the praying type, pray for dreamflower02 and all the others who stayed behind there.

strangelet - " This is bellygoth posting for melanie. I just got off the phone with Mel an here is the latest news: They are ok and armed and defending the bar (Flanagan's Pub). They plan on staying at the bar until the police make them leave or until the situation with the electricity looks too bleak. The quarter isn't flooding yet and so far they still have gas at the bar so they've been cooking what perishables they have left. Here are a list of other people that are at the bar with her and Andy: Shy. marc the shark, sadie ,levi aura, bill, van, leslie, matt , keith"

interdictor - " One of the reasons it's so easy to collapse during a crisis situation is that even the most minute tasks can be desperately frustrating. For instance, you need to move fuel from a 55 gallon drum into a generator fuel tank. First you have to have tools to open the drums and the tank. Someone has to go find some if there aren't any available. Then you have to have pumps to draw it out and pump it into the tank. That means you need extension cord. Have to move the drums and that means you need a dolly. Every step requires items and equipment that could be missing. . . . I keep being told that CNN and the Slate reported our "moods" as something other than upbeat. The city is falling apart, no doubt. The looting is rampant. . . . The water is still creeping in. But you know what? My team's mood is not negative. We're focused. We've got things that need doing and we're gonna get them done. That's all there is to it. We need diesel. We'll find some. We have people depending on us and we are not going to let them down. That's all there is to it."

** 16th update, Tues. August 30th, 8:15 pm CDT **

WWL TV's latest headline is heartbreaking.


News is even darker from Gulfport and Biloxi. Take a look at this video... and if you're the praying type, pray for dreamflower02 and all the others who stayed behind there.

strangelet - " This is bellygoth posting for melanie. I just got off the phone with Mel an here is the latest news: They are ok and armed and defending the bar (Flanagan's Pub). They plan on staying at the bar until the police make them leave or until the situation with the electricity looks too bleak. The quarter isn't flooding yet and so far they still have gas at the bar so they've been cooking what perishables they have left. Here are a list of other people that are at the bar with her and Andy: Shy. marc the shark, sadie ,levi aura, bill, van, leslie, matt , keith"

interdictor - " One of the reasons it's so easy to collapse during a crisis situation is that even the most minute tasks can be desperately frustrating. For instance, you need to move fuel from a 55 gallon drum into a generator fuel tank. First you have to have tools to open the drums and the tank. Someone has to go find some if there aren't any available. Then you have to have pumps to draw it out and pump it into the tank. That means you need extension cord. Have to move the drums and that means you need a dolly. Every step requires items and equipment that could be missing. . . . I keep being told that CNN and the Slate reported our "moods" as something other than upbeat. The city is falling apart, no doubt. The looting is rampant. . . . The water is still creeping in. But you know what? My team's mood is not negative. We're focused. We've got things that need doing and we're gonna get them done. That's all there is to it. We need diesel. We'll find some. We have people depending on us and we are not going to let them down. That's all there is to it."

** 15th update, Tues. August 30th, 3:00 pm CDT **

A brief update to let you all know that scyllacat, who rode out the hurricane and whose last post was very worrying has survived Katrina.

polychromatic22 - "He said he got off the phone with Fahy and that they had seen her just a little bit earlier in the day. IOW, after the storm, after the damage. She's alive! Woohoo! He hasn't got a hold of her yet, but we all know she's good, so that's what matters."

Of course, coastal Mississippi and Alabama got hit as bad, if not worse, than New Orleans. dreamflower02 was riding out the hurricane in Gulfport, Mississippi and nobody has heard anything from her. If any of you have information on her or anyone else on LJ -- or any websites in general -- which have good information on these areas, please let me know.

If you haven't done so yet, please consider a donation to the Red Cross. Even now, they're out there, helping survivors. They can use our help.

** 14th update, Tues. August 30th, 1:30 pm CDT **

Luckier than the 13th update. In particular, there is the good news that experts are confident that 3,000 pound sandbags can close a break in the 17th Street canal levee. Also getting some hopeful news from inside New Orleans.

marquisdd has been in touch with hespbeth, who is inside New Orleans - "The French Quarter remains relatively intact and dry. Flooding from the break in the Pontchartrain levee is not affecting neighborhoods closer to the Mississippi. Yet. . . . Looting is rampant, and perhaps more dangerous than gasoline-soaked puddles, downed power cables, etc., is the criminal factor. . . . As of last night, my friend Michele (who walked to the Quarter and spoke with Liz) reports that Uptown/Garden Dist. is not flooded, and her house is intact. Marigny likewise seems relatively okay. I am assuming that the Bywater, at least the part closer to Marigny/Quarter, is relatively unflooded as well as it doesn't make sense why the Bywater would be under 12 feet of water, but seven blocks away there would be standing floodwater.(Reports of Bywater flooding are probably on the other side of the Industrial Canal, past Poland Ave.) Liz is with a group of friends, with a live phone (land line), plenty of food, cat food, water, and, because she lives above Monaghan's, plenty of alcohol."

marcikay - "my friend still in nola managed to get thru to me in California on a land line. She and 5 or 6 other people are at the souther animal foundation building on magazine (1823 Magazine Street). she says the water hasn't really reached them yet, but they are unable to go anywhere but up due to so much debris in the area. they are currently in the process of moving all the animals in the building to the higher floors. I wish I had the names of the other people she was with in case any of you were worried about them. Her name is Dorey Bates. Also, if the water hasn't reached them yet, there must be a large section of the city that hasn't started to flood. maybe a bit of hope."

bobbysan - "Well. The looting is getting pretty bad here now. Almost all the grocery stores are being looted. Some kids across the street came up carring tons of stuff. I asked if they found a place open. SOrta...THey were just coming back from stealing cigarrettes and soda and beer from Roberts. GOod job scum-bags. THey are now saying it will be about a month to two months before power is restored all over. I think I might need to leave town for a while. I'll have to see. Again, thanks for caring guys. It's heart-warming. If I don't find a way to recharge my laptop, there won't be many updates coming. But I'm alive and in one piece. Everything else is gravy, yes?"

** 13th update, Tues. August 30th, 10:30 am CDT **

It looks like this is the "unlucky 13th" update to this post. Unlucky because I just checked the news. There's a huge breach in the 17th St. levee that is slowly flooding the City of New Orleans, and will continue to do so until water levels between Lake Pontchartrain and water levels inside New Orleans are equalized.

WWL's Katrina Blog says: Downtown streets that were relatively clear in the hours after the storm were filled with 1 to 1 1/2 feet of water Tuesday morning. Water was knee-deep around the Superdome. Canal Street was literally a canal. Water lapped at the edge of the French Quarter. Clumps of red ants floated in the gasoline-fouled waters downtown.

Which leads me to ask... where are the experts on this who can predict how much flooding this actually will be? Will this flooding be a risk the lives of those who stayed behind in New Orleans, because martial law has been declared and those people were just advised to stay in their homes. Apparently, stores are being looted.

It reminds me of the Great Earthquake of '06. It wasn't the earthquake that destroyed the city, but the fire. Could New Orleans be spared by the hurricane, but significantly flooded afterwards?

Meanwhile, there is no water pressure for the city... but that's just as well, as the water would be polluted anyway. *sigh*

mightyiz - "Still no word from my sister who was trapped at 2740 Palmyra (close to Broad and Canal) I havent been able to get through by phone since 5PM last night. Can anyone get through to the police or anyone to see if she is OK? The water was on her porch at 5PM last night. Please help of you can."

interdictor - "One of the guys ventured out to check for open stores... they're open to looters. He reports that there's looting at walmart and the like. Also there is water in the CBD on Canal Street. Flooded about one and one-half feet so far. Quarter might be flooding too. Still no flooding near us at all.

** 12th update, Tues. August 30th, 10:30 am CDT **

Good morning. Haven't checked the news yet, so expect an update on that later, but I do have several updates. There is a very busy forum on that is giving good details about effected areas near New Orleans, and there's also raw video available of a helicopter flyover of the various parts of New Orleans, Kenner, and Metairie at I would also encourage people to check out the neworleans community, as there are a lot of people there sharing useful information. When I first developed the idea for LJ communities, I knew they'd be essential for maintaining some of the tight-knit sense of community that LJ had at its beginning with a rapidly growing site, but it's very rewarding to me to see people use them in times of hardship to help each other.

interdictor - "Here are some pictures: . . . I do not want to be an alarmist, but people who have the means to leave the greater New Orleans area need to do so. The infrastructure required to maintain a city is down. It could be a long time before it's back up. There will be too many people fighting for exceptionally scarce resources. It's one of those situations where you need A in order to fix B, but you can't do A until C happens and C can't happen until B is finished. Right now, it's a matter of survival. There are 3 important aspects to surviving this: you need food/water/medicine, you need personal protection, and you need the means to conduct personal hygiene in such a way that you're not creating more of a problem than you're solving. For any media out there reading this, it would be very helpful for you to post guidelines for survivalist hygiene." (Here is a link to a site that has a good set of instructions for dealing with hygiene. - Mark) "This aspect is often the most overlooked. The possibility for disease is very high, especially in an area already infested with mosquitoes, roaches, flies, and rodents. Throw in dead bodies and unsatisfactory hygiene capabilities, overflowing sewage, etc. and you've got a recipe for an absolute disaster. And then, there are looters, drug addicts who can't get their fix, and opportunists. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. We are already instituting our own rules and guidelines for hygiene, personal behavior, etc. Effective use of time NOW is critical. Problems need to be dealt with before they exist, because they will exist and you don't want to have critical situations occur when you're dealing with something else.The most important thing of all is to keep a clear head . . . . Stay calm, use your head, set your priorities, act, evaluate your situation constantly, and remember that everyone is in this together. It's easy to want to step on everyone else to effect your own survival, but remember that every person who dies becomes a sanitation risk to you. There it is. I am expecting the worst and preparing for it."

alobar - "Alobar is ok. His skylight blew out & some rain came in but the winds dried much of it out. He has food & water. He injured himself slightly (bruised leg) by pushing his foot against metal shelving while he was having leg cramps. The shelves came down on his leg and he had to pull himself free. He sounds fit and calm tho. I went to the weather channel & the Times Pic., but couldn't find much about the Quarter itself or what plans they have for getting people out. Alobar says it is dry and he has a neighbor across the way with a genrator. He has phone atm & gas. No electricity."

** 11th update, Mon. August 29th, 9:00 pm CDT **

Back again. Just did the BBC Radio 5 interview, which was thankfully short. I can only hope that nobody listens so late. I'm probably going to make this the last post of the night, as darkness is falling in New Orleans. I feel awful for those poor people who are stranded in (and on top of) flooded homes who weren't able to be evacuated by the emergency rescue boats today. Too many people, not enough boats and rescue workers. I hope they make it through the night okay. It must be tough for all of those in the Louisiana National Guard who are in Iraq tonight, watching pictures of it all, but unable to help. To make matters worse, much of the equuipment that they would use to help is in Iraq.

For those who are trying to find out more details on how particular regions held up to the hurricane, I suggest you check through this extensive list of stories at, or do google news search, sorted by date, adding in any keywords to the search that you need in order to identify your region. Let's hope you can all go home soon.

interdictor has posted pictures of the downtown, from his building. It looks like a tickertape parade of broken glass. Those interested in more pictures might want to check out this collection of photos over at Flickr.

Even now, there's still a lot more we don't know about the damage and suffering that has -- and still is -- taking place. Maybe tomorrow it will be clearer. Right now, it just seems too much to contemplate.

Again, help the Red Cross help others. Give generously. Thanks!


The 1st - 10th entries were truncated by LiveJournal due to a bug relating to post size overflow, but fortunately I was able to find them and recreate them!. Continue on to the first ten entries!

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