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Notes From Inside New Orleans
by Jordan Flaherty Friday, Sep. 02, 2005 at 12:03 PM

Yes, I stayed through the storm and aftermath. I'm fine - much better off than most of my brother and sister hurricane survivors. Below is my attempt to relay some of what I've seen these last few days.

Thanks to all the loved ones and long-lost friends for your sweet notes of concern, offers of housing and support, etc. Yes, I stayed through the storm and aftermath. I'm fine - much better off than most of my brother and sister hurricane survivors. Below is my attempt to relay some of what I've seen these last few days.


Notes From Inside New Orleans

by Jordan Flaherty

Friday, September 2, 2005

I just left New Orleans a couple hours ago. I traveled from the apartment I
was staying in by boat to a helicopter to a refugee camp. If anyone wants
to examine the attitude of federal and state officials towards the victims
of hurricane Katrina, I advise you to visit one of the refugee camps.

In the refugee camp I just left, on the I-10 freeway near Causeway,
thousands of people (at least 90% black and poor) stood and squatted in mud
and trash behind metal barricades, under an unforgiving sun, with heavily
armed soldiers standing guard over them. When a bus would come through, it
would stop at a random spot, state police would open a gap in one of the
barricades, and people would rush for the bus, with no information given
about where the bus was going. Once inside (we were told) evacuees would be
told where the bus was taking them - Baton Rouge, Houston, Arkansas, Dallas,
or other locations. I was told that if you boarded a bus bound for Arkansas
(for example), even people with family and a place to stay in Baton Rouge
would not be allowed to get out of the bus as it passed through Baton Rouge.
You had no choice but to go to the shelter in Arkansas. If you had people
willing to come to New Orleans to pick you up, they could not come within 17
miles of the camp.

I traveled throughout the camp and spoke to Red Cross workers, Salvation
Army workers, National Guard, and state police, and although they were
friendly, no one could give me any details on when buses would arrive, how
many, where they would go to, or any other information. I spoke to the
several teams of journalists nearby, and asked if any of them had been able
to get any information from any federal or state officials on any of these
questions, and all of them, from Australian tv to local Fox affiliates
complained of an unorganized, non-communicative, mess. One cameraman told
me "as someone who's been here in this camp for two days, the only
information I can give you is this: get out by nightfall. You don't want to
be here at night."

There was also no visible attempt by any of those running the camp to set up
any sort of transparent and consistent system, for instance a line to get on
buses, a way to register contact information or find family members, special
needs services for children and infirm, phone services, treatment for
possible disease exposure, nor even a single trash can.

To understand this tragedy, its important to look at New Orleans itself.

For those who have not lived in New Orleans, you have missed a incredible,
glorious, vital, city. A place with a culture and energy unlike anywhere
else in the world. A 70% African-American city where resistance to white
supremecy has supported a generous, subversive and unique culture of vivid
beauty. From jazz, blues and hiphop, to secondlines, Mardi Gras Indians,
Parades, Beads, Jazz Funerals, and red beans and rice on Monday nights, New
Orleans is a place of art and music and dance and sexuality and liberation
unlike anywhere else in the world.

It is a city of kindness and hospitality, where walking down the block can
take two hours because you stop and talk to someone on every porch, and
where a community pulls together when someone is in need. It is a city of
extended families and social networks filling the gaps left by city, state
and federal goverments that have abdicated their responsibilty for the
public welfare. It is a city where someone you walk past on the street not
only asks how you are, they wait for an answer.

It is also a city of exploitation and segregation and fear. The city of New
Orleans has a population of just over 500,000 and was expecting 300 murders
this year, most of them centered on just a few, overwhelmingly black,
neighborhoods. Police have been quoted as saying that they don't need to
search out the perpetrators, because usually a few days after a shooting,
the attacker is shot in revenge.

There is an atmosphere of intense hostility and distrust between much of
Black New Orleans and the N.O. Police Department. In recent months,
officers have been accused of everything from drug running to corruption to
theft. In seperate incidents, two New Orleans police officers were recently
charged with rape (while in uniform), and there have been several high
profile police killings of unarmed youth, including the murder of Jenard
Thomas, which has inspired ongoing weekly protests for several months.

The city has a 40% illiteracy rate, and over 50% of black ninth graders will
not graduate in four years. Louisiana spends on average $4,724 per child's
education and ranks 48th in the country for lowest teacher salaries. The
equivalent of more than two classrooms of young people drop out of Louisiana
schools every day and about 50,000 students are absent from school on any
given day. Far too many young black men from New Orleans end up enslaved in
Angola Prison, a former slave plantation where inmates still do manual farm
labor, and over 90% of inmates eventually die in the prison. It is a city
where industry has left, and most remaining jobs are are low-paying,
transient, insecure jobs in the service economy.

Race has always been the undercurrent of Louisiana politics. This disaster
is one that was constructed out of racism, neglect and incompetence.
Hurricane Katrina was the inevitable spark igniting the gasoline of cruelty
and corruption. From the neighborhoods left most at risk, to the treatment
of the refugees to the the media portayal of the victims, this disaster is
shaped by race.

Louisiana politics is famously corrupt, but with the tragedies of this week
our political leaders have defined a new level of incompetence. As
hurricane Katrina approached, our Governor urged us to "Pray the hurricane
down" to a level two. Trapped in a building two days after the hurricane,
we tuned our battery-operated radio into local radio and tv stations, hoping
for vital news, and were told that our governor had called for a day of
prayer. As rumors and panic began to rule, they was no source of solid
dependable information. Tuesday night, politicians and reporters said the
water level would rise another 12 feet - instead it stabilized. Rumors
spread like wildfire, and the politicians and media only made it worse.

While the rich escaped New Orleans, those with nowhere to go and no way to
get there were left behind. Adding salt to the wound, the local and
national media have spent the last week demonizing those left behind. As
someone that loves New Orleans and the people in it, this is the part of
this tragedy that hurts me the most, and it hurts me deeply.

No sane person should classify someone who takes food from indefinitely
closed stores in a desperate, starving city as a "looter," but thats just
what the media did over and over again. Sherrifs and politicians talked of
having troops protect stores instead of perform rescue operations.

Images of New Orleans' hurricane-ravaged population were transformed into
black, out-of-control, criminals. As if taking a stereo from a store that
will clearly be insured against loss is a greater crime than the
governmental neglect and incompetence that did billions of dollars of damage
and destroyed a city. This media focus is a tactic, just as the eighties
focus on "welfare queens" and "super-predators" obscured the simultaneous
and much larger crimes of the Savings and Loan scams and mass layoffs, the
hyper-exploited people of New Orleans are being used as a scapegoat to cover
up much larger crimes.

City, state and national politicians are the real criminals here. Since at
least the mid-1800s, its been widely known the danger faced by flooding to
New Orleans. The flood of 1927, which, like this week's events, was more
about politics and racism than any kind of natural disaster, illustrated
exactly the danger faced. Yet government officials have consistently
refused to spend the money to protect this poor, overwhelmingly black, city.
While FEMA and others warned of the urgent impending danger to New Orleans
and put forward proposals for funding to reinforce and protect the city, the
Bush administration, in every year since 2001, has cut or refused to fund
New Orleans flood control, and ignored scientists warnings of increased
hurricanes as a result of global warming. And, as the dangers rose with the
floodlines, the lack of coordinated response dramatized vividly the callous
disregard of our elected leaders.

The aftermath from the 1927 flood helped shape the elections of both a US
President and a Governor, and ushered in the southern populist politics of
Huey Long.

In the coming months, billions of dollars will likely flood into New
Orleans. This money can either be spent to usher in a "New Deal" for the
city, with public investment, creation of stable union jobs, new schools,
cultural programs and housing restoration, or the city can be "rebuilt and
revitalized" to a shell of its former self, with newer hotels, more casinos,
and with chain stores and theme parks replacing the former neighborhoods,
cultural centers and corner jazz clubs.

Long before Katrina, New Orleans was hit by a hurricane of poverty, racism,
disinvestment, de-industrialization and corruption. Simply the damage from
this pre-Katrina hurricane will take billions to repair.

Now that the money is flowing in, and the world's eyes are focused on
Katrina, its vital that progressive-minded people take this opportunity to
fight for a rebuilding with justice. New Orleans is a special place, and we
need to fight for its rebirth.

Jordan Flaherty is an editor of Left Turn Magazine


Below are some small, grassroots and New Orleans-based resources,
organizations and institutions that will need your support in the coming

Social Justice: <> <> <> <><>

Cultural Resources: <> <> <>

Current Info and Resources:

add your comments

Poignent Point Regarding Racism and Rain
by Sara Friday, Sep. 02, 2005 at 12:49 PM 214.801.0215

I found the Article discussing the recent New Orleans tragedy in terms of race and politics disturbing and enlightening. When the media spews out news of "looting" and "chaos", it is difficult to understand what lies behind these carefully chosen media portrayals.

Of course people are taking much needed food and clothing when they were left behind to face a tremendous storm when there was time for authorities to assist them with evacuation.

The Bush administration, and the media networks, could care less about the welfare of those "left behind" and would rather portray them as criminals... for the sake of a good story.

What about the true story? The race and low socio-economic status of those suffering. What about the fact that the authorities would rather treat those suffering with guns rather than compassion?

Segregation is not old news in this country, unfortunately. I just hope that more people see this disaster for what it truly is.... a tragedy involving our lack of concern for the nation's poor.

add your comments

thanks so much!
by Kate Friday, Sep. 02, 2005 at 1:12 PM

Jordan ~ thanks so much for this amazing story. Great background and up to the minute updates. Hope to see you soon.

add your comments

A perfectCatastrophe
by El Deguello Friday, Sep. 02, 2005 at 2:05 PM

Before we fault rescue efforts we need to ask ourselves: In the history of the world has there ever been a perfect catastrophe ??????

Catastrophe: (noun) 1 : the final event of the dramatic action especially of a tragedy; 2 : a momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin; 3 a : a violent and sudden change in a feature of the earth; b : a violent usually destructive natural event (as a supernova); 4 : utter failure : FIASCO

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Hungarian solidarity and translation from
by maxigas Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 1:55 AM


Glad you made it! The article is great, the breath of topics and the informative nature of it is amusing, and the viewpoint is correct, AFAIK.

Thanks for taking time and energy to write it and send it to indymedia ASAP.

Last night I translated the article and posted it as a feature on the Hungarian IMC,

Solidarity and support from the Hungarian IMC collective.

add your comments

by a human Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 2:00 AM

what is happening we dont get told too much over here in australia, Seems like a sudden change is coming and it affets all of us. What is america doing to its fellow human beings? ww3?

add your comments

by Wendy from Australia Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 4:24 AM

To all the people of the hurricane-affected area - my thoughts are with you. Not only do you have to contend with the disaster itself, but also with total incompetence and lack of any sort of caring from the Bush administration.

I listened to an interview with Mayor Nagin. I have no idea whether he is a good and honest mayor or not, but I cried listening to him.

I am so angry that the high and mighty United States of America can try to rule the world, but cannot look after its own.

Next time I hear someone say "God Bless America", I swear I will spew!

add your comments

article from jamaica star
by levy Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 5:43 AM

The dark side of black people
Leighton Levy, Jamaica Star

LET ME START by saying that if I had my life to live over a thousand times, the one thing I would not change would be my race. I am proud to be a black man. There are times however, when I wish that certain people and I did not share that trait.

For the past few days, the whole world ... well, at least those who have access to satellite and cable television, have been seeing pictures of the virtually total devastation of the cities of the U.S. Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina. An estimated 90 per cent of homes in New Orleans have been destroyed by flood waters and more than 100 people have been confirmed dead.

We see people standing on the roofs of their submerged homes desperate to be rescued, others being airlifted to safety, and we have heard tear-jerking stories of families losing their loved ones. But in all of this, we have also seen the really dark side of black people.

The day after the hurricane passed, there were reports of looting but network reporters had been saying that people were looting out of desperation, in search of food and water. A lot they knew.

The pictures I have been seeing are of people - black people - stealing shoes, diapers, and television sets. Not food and definitely not water. Not unless the armfuls of clothing, shoes, and appliances I see people wading through the streets with count as food and water.

Now, if all the looters were looting out of desperation, how desperate were the guy and girls I saw toting several boxes of size 13 Nikes? How desperate was the fellow with the stack of diapers? What, is it that he has several babies at home suffering from loose bowels? What am I talking about, what home? Everything is under water and what isn't, has been totally destroyed.

Plasma TV?

And just what are those guys stealing the plasma television sets going to be watching when there is no power in the entire city?

Desperation? Yeah, right. I am beginning to believe that black people, no matter where in the world they are, are cursed with a genetic predisposition to steal, murder, and create mayhem.

The entire firearm department at a Wal-Mart department store, for example, was cleaned out and the looters used the stolen weapons to rob people. How low is that? Everybody is suffering and the black people would seek to rob people who are suffering just like themselves.

No white looters?

And it has nothing to do with poverty. Where are the white people in all this? I am sure there are poor white people living in New Orleans, Biloxi and the other towns affected by what has been going on. Is it that the media are not showing pictures of them looting and robbing? Or is it that they are too busy trying to stay alive, waiting to be rescued, and hiding from the blacks.

And you know what? Even if the poor whites were looting and robbing, wouldn't it be nice if the blacks could have made them the only ones doing it

Just once, I would like for us blacks to take the high road in situations like this, where instead of showing our darkest side, we put our best foot forward. But I guess that would be too much to ask, too much of a case of wishful thinking.

add your comments

by coyote Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 8:11 AM

This is indymedia reproting at it's very best! on the ground opinionated and passionate!

add your comments

I didn't vote for him!
by Jackie Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 2:44 PM

I would just like to Thank the author for the informative article of the situation in New Orleans. My Prayers are going out to the victims. The lack of help and concern to the victims for days after Katrina are a total disgrace to all Americans. I am appauled and embarrassed by the way our politians and Fema have handled this. It is an outrage that Bush stayed on Vacation for two days while people are dying of thirst and medical attention. I am white and Middle class. No one can deny the immediate attention given to 9/11 when white business men and women were envolved. (Also A future election coming up) The same immediate attention should have been shown here to help the people. I think someone is just showing his true colors.. Or non color, if you know what I am saying. Then he takes charge and eveything starts getting done like it should have been done days ago! Looks like someone is trying to be a hero. WHATEVER! It is good to see Americans pulling together again and donating their time and money. Some of the politians need to learn from TRUE americans. Just because they are mostly not republican voters does not mean you can get around to helping them when it is convienant for you. I thought after 9/11 we supposedly have plans for disasters. At least better plans than this. Isn't that where tax some tax $ are supposed to be going? After the Tsunami, I would have thought someone might think, what if something like that happens here? We are the most powerful nation in the world. We constantly are places where we don't belong.. In everyone elses business, Giving our tax $ to causes that don't concern us at the moment. Making more enemies than allies. Trying to rule the world as it seems. I as a American am embaressed by this. And let me say to worldwide readers of this, not all Americans are in support of Bush and his greater than thou attitude, self serving and uncaring, King of the World way of thinking. At least people who were fooled by him can now see his true colors, and they aren't red , white and Blue. I Didn't vote for him! (And I do vote) God Bless the victims, Please everyone give their support, and Thanks for this forum to vent!, Jackie

add your comments

New Orleans To Prosecute Underage Rescuer For Driving An Ungreased Bus
by james Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 6:47 PM

Is this real? Can this happen?

"New Orleans To Prosecute Underage Rescuer For Driving An Ungreased Bus"

add your comments

by A.L. Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 9:55 PM

I'm white. I'm middle-income. Even though I describe myself as a liberal, I know I'm a lot further to the right than the average IndyMedia person.

But, wow. Wow. I don't have words to convey my range about what the Bush administration (and, to be fair, local Louisiana and New Orleans officials) have done to the people of New Orleans.

I guess there's a rumor that the Bush administration blocked aid because the FBI was chasing some carjacker who stole something that could "wipe out the entire Southeastern United States" from some lab or other facility that was being evacuated. I understand the concern, but, clearly, even if that's true, THAT evacuation should have been done Friday, and what's gone on with the people in the Superdome, the Convention Center and on I-10 amounts to a crime against humanity. I understandthe arguments against the death penalty, but I do think whoever is really responsible for the utter failure of our New Orleans and St. Bernards Parish relief effort ought to sit on old sparky for about five hours.

add your comments

by Tony Battle Sunday, Sep. 04, 2005 at 4:13 PM

Thanks for the article. I've just been recently to N-O city and I could grasp what you mean by it being 'special'. You provide the visitor just that little amount of humanity and smiles that one needs when away from home. New Orleans people do know what a smile looks like. Lets hope everything, everyone recovers fully and well and I may come back soon, to enjoy those nasty cajun and hot sauces of yours !
Hugs from Barcelona

add your comments

Re: The dark side of black people
by smash racism Sunday, Sep. 04, 2005 at 5:15 PM

These firsthand accounts clarify the desperate situation:

add your comments

Asombrosa incompetencia
by Juan Fdez. Monday, Sep. 05, 2005 at 2:22 AM

Desde Europa (Spain) se asiste con asombro a la incompetencia demostrada por las altas autoridades del país más rico y poderoso. Nadie puede evitar las catástrofes naturales, pero el hombre siempre ha procurado disponer de los medios necesarios para aliviar sus efectos. Es evidente que US dispone de los recursos necesarios para reparar diques, suministrar agua y alimentos, o evacuar gente. El misterio es por qué han pasado cinco días de completo caos. La única respuesta es que los altos responsables de la administración, y los políticos, no han tomado las decisiones apropiadas. Es más, incluso se han bloqueado carreteras o intentos de acceso particulares de rescate de familiares. Supongo que los jueces tendrán algo que decir de los responsables de todo esto.
En España (Spain) hemos quedado en estado de shock al ver a personas ancianas, disminuidos físicos, niños y bebés esperando dias sin ser rescatados, en condiciones de agonía.
No sé lo que hará el pueblo americano, y si exigirá o no responsabilidades a sus gobernantes, pero es evidente que no se merece a sus actuales dirigentes.
Un saludo desde España para toda la gente que sufre.

add your comments

Celine Dion - a racist or just stupid
by john Tuesday, Sep. 06, 2005 at 12:58 AM

1. How did everyone miss this idiotic remark by Celine about the poor people in NOLA?

<a href ="">
They are so poor they have never touched anything in their lives. OR

Let them touch those things for once or even all day long ."

Is she nuts or what?


add your comments

by Laura Tuesday, Sep. 06, 2005 at 1:29 AM

The man taking diapers did need them. The people in shelters were with out diapers. I hope one day you will see a video I saw of a man pushing a cart of diapers, formula and juice. He had no children himself but wanted to help the babies. As people came up they only took a few diapers and one can of formula so that others could share in what this man had looted.
Try to find this I think you will see things clearer. Laura

add your comments

XML & RSS feeds not working
by Hestia Tuesday, Sep. 06, 2005 at 3:44 PM

None of the feeds on this page are working:

I'd really like to get it syndicated for LiveJournal. I'm watching out for any info on a handful of Australians still missing in New Orleans since the hurricane struck.

Also, does anybody have any suggestions of what other websites might be of help? Since there seems to be no telephone or mobile phone access in or out of the city it seems the only private communications are through the internet.

Many thanks for any help you can give.

add your comments

house wife
by ginger Thursday, Sep. 08, 2005 at 9:16 AM river oaks tx.

I think rihgt now people just need to pull together.I sat here and cried all day about the people that have lost loved ones and the kids that have gotten separated from their parents.My heart goes out to these children and their families. Most importantly these kids need to be with their parents they have already been through so much.Our children are our future no matter the race. Feel free to e-mail me. thank you Ginger

add your comments

Celine Dion was Satire
by M Ryan Thursday, Sep. 08, 2005 at 3:51 PM

James and John, the blogsite you mentioned (documenting the young man charged for driving an ungreased bus and the comments by Celine Dion) has its web address as 'satire'. Satire uses fiction, which appears real, in order to highlight contemporary issues or behaviour. Good satire can be a very powerful method of social commentary, and can be used by comedians as well as social acivists, writers or politicians.

add your comments

by gg Saturday, Sep. 10, 2005 at 2:27 PM

Skeletons (Real Ones) in Bush's Closet

There are some very troubling developments regarding the collecting of
bodies in NOLA. The company hired to do the collection is Kenyon
International. Kenyon International is owned by SCI, a major Bush
contributor. SCI was involved in a scandal called "Funeralgate" wherein
thousands of
bodies were improperly and fraudulently disposed of in mass graves of in
violation of numerous State and Federal laws on numreous occasions. Rather
than prosecute the company, the then Governor George W Bush and and his
campaign manager and future FEMA director Joe Allbaugh seemingly helped the
company engage in a coverup. Both Bush and Allbaugh were named as defendants
in a lawsuit regarding the issue.

The fact FEMA and the Bush Administration seem to be intent on blocking
media coverage of the collection of bodies, and unsubstantiated rumours of
"mishandling" of bodies in NOLA already circulating should lead to great
concern among the public. Is the Government planning to cover up the number
of dead in NOLA as they covered up the Abu Ghraib scandal?

One thing is certain: reporters for the Dallas times caught Police and
National Guardsmen red handed in this video
telling the media they were rounding up dogs to be collected by the ASPCA
and other animal groups, when in fact they were caught "exterminating" them
on camera. If the government will lie about that, what else will they lie

The American people deserve to know the truth. The collection of American
bodies should not be farmed out to a Bush political crony, one which he
seemingly helped cover up the "mishandling" of bodies...a felony. SCI's
criminal practice of "mishandling" bodies should preclude it from engaging
in or profiting from the recovery of American bodies anywhere, but
particularly in NOLA...the outcome of the investigation is too important to
leave to a company with such a tainted past, particulary one that is so
incestuously connected to George W Bush, and particularly when the Bush
administration has so much to lose from an accurate body count.

The US media must be allowed to report on a crucial element of one of the
gravest governmental crises in American history. Congress should demand that
Kenyon International be FIRED immediately from any and all recovery efforts
in NOLA, and send an independent oversight group to be present in NOLA and
the surrounding area during the body recovery to insure the American people
are not being duped. These are not hanging chads, these are American
citizens.The present leadership within FEMA and the Bush administrationhave
proven themselves unworthy of American trust.

Following is a list of links detailing some very disturbing allegations of
criminal activity directly involving GW Bush, Joe Allbaugh, and the company
entrusted by the American people to recover the dead abandoned by the Bush
administration after hurricane Katrina...are you listening America?

Please dont just read this info, do something about it!

Contact Congress and the National Media to launch a formal inquiry, help
disseminate this info on the blogs. Its time to bring back accountbility to
our government.

Permission to use this post for any reason is granted Universally without
charge or obligation.

add your comments

response american hka (hurricane katrina aftermath)
by glaring truth Saturday, Sep. 24, 2005 at 8:13 PM

right wendy exactamungo

add your comments

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