A true story about last minute escape from flooded city of new orleans from a friend via email
Trapped in the city. Sorry for the mass e-mail, it is the only way to get word to you all. We are safe in Baton Rouge. We got through the hurricane just fine where we were, in the French Quarter. (The Quarter and Marigny are dry, with mostly intact houses, just a lot of cosmetic damage and tree limbs.)
We were going to stay, and feel terrible about leaving, since we can help by being a community and helping out in small ways, but they cut off the tap water (so we can't even boil the tap water) and we only have a 5 day supply of bottled water, and the National Guard is not letting anyone in to help. Getting out is not at all easy. Here is the story of how we escaped.
I'll write you another one about the hurricane itself (a lot of fun, for us) and the immediate aftermath, which was characterized by our wonderful commmunity uniting and helping eachother out. The truly terrible part of thisdisaster is the government response. They are not letting people with supplies in to help. They have cut off our water. They are ineffectual and incompetent. You will read below that they are stealing private buses people hire to evacuate in, yet they do not send their own buses. It is sinister and dangerous and desperate. People here in Baton Rouge have amassed supplies and can get people out, but the National Guard is not letting them in. Please call on the government in any way you can to allow private people to go in an deliver supplies.
Our Escape from New Orleans
They have shut off the tap water. They want to stem disease from drinking contaminated water, but at least if they gave us contaminated water, we could boil it. I feel panic welling up- why didn’t I fill up more jugs when we had tap water? Since the water has been on a few days, we have grown complacent. We have been taking showers, so the bathtub is empty. I feel so stupid.
Also, we sense that the situation in the streets has deteriorated. Fewer and fewer of our bohemian friends, and people in general, are left. Sinister young men walk down these mostly deserted streets. There is an ominous sense of abandonment.
We decide we must get out, and try to contact everyone we know who owns a car, by telephone and walking. No one with a car is left in the city. We decide at least to relocate to Jimmy’s apartment, which is more secure. We then see our new friends/neighbors, Niko, Melissa, and Rarig. They propose bicycling out of the city to Baton Rouge. It seems a ludicrous idea at first, but on second thought, sounds feasible. The distance is 80 miles, and if we bring a very large amount of water, we could leave early in the morning and arrive in Baton Rouge by nightfall. We plan to meet at Molly’s at 7am the next morning to depart, a bicycle tribe.
Back at Jimmy’s, we tell him of our intentions, and he says he has heard of buses departing from major hotels. Jose and Jimmy set off in search of these chartered buses, and find that the Hotel Monteleone has chartered a fleet of 10 buses with state trooper escort to come in and evacuate their guests to Houston. There are 200 extra seats that they are selling to residents at $45 a seat (at cost). Jose on his way to pick up his forgotten green card and passport passes Niko, Melissa, and Rarig. He tells them about the buses and to get down there. Back at his apartment, Jimmy packs up in 15 minutes, taking mostly gold. They get in line. I’m completely tense. Then, victory! They have gotten tickets. Everyone is happy. I’m relieved, but still tense. I won’t be able to relax until we are physically on the bus. The buses are scheduled to arrive at 6:30pm. Teddy, Jimmy’s neighbor who decided to stay, will securely bar the front door to their building from the inside at 8pm. At that point, we won’t be able to get back in.
Waiting. 6:30pm comes and goes. 7:30pm… 8:30pm… 9:30pm … waiting for the fleet of 10 buses. It’s getting dark, and scary. We have police with double barrel shotguns to guard us, and protect against a rush on the buses, but there are only four of them. The French Quarter is ominous at night; terrifying if away from the police escort with their double barrel shotguns. At this point, a cheer goes up, but instead of a fleet of ten chartered buses, a single Jefferson Parish school bus shows up. The driver gets out & talks with the hotel organizer. Jose hovers around nearby, discreetly listening. The buses have been commandeered by the police- the Monteleone paid for them, but they have been stolen by the state. (The state says they need them to evacuate the sick and elderly, but why can’t the state get ahold of its own buses??? They should have a fleet of 100 buses taking people out, and should have had that fleet by Monday night, but instead they do nothing until a private party takes action to help itself, and then they steal the buses.) The hotel manager is livid & angrily but quietly decides to try to “negotiate” with the state. He is not letting on to the guests that the buses have been confiscated- no one knows except those like Jose that are discreetly but actively gathering information. Allan Toussaint and his wife coolly gather their bags and get on the school bus.
Jose speaks to the bus driver. For $50 cash each, he will take us to Baton Rouge. I have $61, Jose has $14, Kip (Jimmy’s neighbor, a transplant patient who needs regular dialysis and is already overdue) has $20, and Jimmy has $50. I ask desperately and ridiculously if they take credit cards or checks. Of course they don’t, and in fact they say that no one in the state is taking credit cards, because of all the possibility of theft. Jose turns to me and says “baby, if you want to take this bus… good luck to you” and I turn back “I won’t leave without you.” It’s as simple as that. Then, I beg. I plead with the bus driver to take us- that our friend needs dialysis and that this is all the cash we have. I explain that we’ve already given $45 for the Monteleone ticket. He agrees to take what we have and we scramble on board. I love the feel of sitting on the hard metal floor of the stripped out bus. But I’m not relaxed yet. This bus, too, could be confiscated. (The police have tried twice to confiscate his bus, but he managed to escape.) I hold my knees close, and pray that we make it to Baton Rouge. The bus creeps along, silently taking back-streets out of New Orleans, over the Crescent City Connection (slight release of tension- we’re officially out of the city) and out, through back roads, looping towards Donaldsville then over the Sunshine Bridge and then finally onto the I-10 just before Baton Rouge. At the city, I can hardly believe the familiar yet strange sight of lighted signs and streetlights. It has been pitch black in New Orleans since Sunday night. You can see the stars in the sky.
We are dropped off at the airport. I ask the bus driver for his address, so I can send him the difference. He declines (of course; this is obviously a pirated bus), and I thank him profusely. He will return to New Orleans throughout the night to rescue people wanting to escape.
Finally believing that we have really escaped, I can sigh in exhausted relief. The airport, full of refugees sleeping on the floor, is a wonderful place. We plug in our cell phones, and call Andre & Laura. They are there in minutes with their car to pick us up. Their house is luxurious, and Andre even cooks up some eggs and toast, with sliced tomatoes, for us. It is like heaven to be here, truly heavenly.
As the stories come spilling out of us, my happiness is marred only by a terrible sense of sadness for the others left behind, in the terror of a city steadily evacuated by bohemians and working class people and taken over by criminals and soldiers. The worst are the people still on their roofs, sitting there without food or water for days on end, or drowning. Also, the animals. Our neighbors, in a move of supremely cruel irresponsibility, left their dog in their apartment, locked in there. They told us nothing when they evacuated, did not give us a key, and we had no way of getting in. We heard the dog desperately scratching against the wall on Tuesday night, but were afraid to go outside to do anything about it. Wednesday, we heard no more sound from him. I feel incredibly guilty for not breaking a barred window to at least give him a chance to get out, in case he was still alive. I only hope that perhaps they left a long term supply of food and water, and that he is alive and only quiet, and will survive until they get back. I wish that I could go back, in an official vehicle loaded with water and supplies, to just drop off supplies and pick up people, taking them back and forth to Baton Rouge. But they are letting no one in to help. People outside the city want desperately to come in and rescue their friends and family members, and I’m sure many are willing to drive in supplies. If the government were competent to take care of the situation, then they could indeed take over. But they are NOT. (It is just one example that they can’t get their shit together to get their own buses, just confiscating the buses of those who are more competent than they.) They NEED to LET PEOPLE BACK IN so they can help the residents trapped in the city.
Hopefully the people of New Orleans will be pissed off enough, along with the rest of pissed off America, to lead the overthrow and removal ( by any means necessary!, Really, ANY means, Bush and his friends must pay. This country has been robbed of Billions, Trillions, by them, not to mention the thousands of lives.) of the criminal, corrupt, inhumane, disgusting, Bush administration.
I was watching the tv last night from here in australia, what i am seeing is almost like a dream i feel nothing but fear and sorrow when i see what america's government are doing to its own people. How is it logical to not let buses and food through because there most probably isnt a bomb inside the bus. Your worried about the bombs going off and killing people?!!!!! They dont need bombs in new orleans for human beings to be murdered and left to die ,by cowards. your government are the creators of terror. I the last 5 years your goverment has ruined the only planet we are capable of living on. This is insane, do something for your own sakes , as well as the rest of us who didnt elect him as world leader. Do something
I can only hope that the American people will actually find out about this terrible disgrace. I had been watching the corporate media (CNN Specifically) about the evacuation of affected areas, and it seems the worst story they could come up with was about the poor, poor people trapped inside the RITZ CARLTON, and how horrible it was for them.
Heh, I think maybe, just maybe, George-y boy thinks that this hurricane may have been propagated by terrorists, or more likely that terrorists will take this oppurtunity to strike...
It is really too bad that a mixture of incompetency and "Everything is going as planned" comments from people like Laura Bush have contributed to an already terrible situation. What's even worse is that the American people likely believe their government is actually doing all they can.
thanks for the personal view... wonder what is implied by "sinister" young men and "criminals" were you refering to people seeking water and food, or information on ways to get out? or the govt troops with guns shooting people tring to survivie? or did you see yourself cases where people randomly attacked other people?
Don't you understand that these Red Cross people in trucks and other help which was not allowed through were PRIVATE CITIZENS, not military personel, who cannot be allowed into an area where there has been verified gunfire. Now help has arrived, but the actions of a few precluded help from volunteer forces who WERE there and WERE willing to help.
by C Antwar
Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 10:06 AM
"Sinister young men" most likely referred to those criminals who actually SHOT guns at a helicopter which was trying to help, or maybe the young gentlemen who have forcibly RAPED and brutalized helpless and weakened women. Oh, but they were hungry and thirsty...oh, that's it.
i would like to add some perspective. I question the reports of rapes, in the sense of where, when, how? And is the number actually any different from the regular average of assaults in the US? Or is it just easy for some people to believe straight away that certain members of this community behave as criminals? The US has a very ominous racially aware consciousness, it appears.
Miranda, you have a good point. I'd certainly like to hear more about these terrible incidents.
But one observation I've made, is that people in despair do mad thing. In war zones people go nuts. In poverty areas, people go nuts. In refugee camps people go nuts.
Its a shame that the conservatives have this stupid "zero tolerance" thing about looting. I mean if that shop is abandoned, by its wealthy overlords, and some guy needs food for his baby and his girl, then that guy should be well within his rights to grab some food. Humans gotta eat.
The only solution is to get the fuck in the there and get folk help. Its astonishing and scary such a wealthy nation as america cant get its shit together to save new orleans, whos culture has enriched America and the world sooo much.
You know , Money this Money that - No way out if you don'y have money give me $40. cash or $50. cash and I'll get you to safety , man what are you going to do when it comes crashing down I mean the hole thing - and it will happen it can't go on like this for ever I mean look what happens to just one city now think about the hole country - perhaps the world , what the fuck is "Money" going to do you then do any of us...not one damn thing . Man if I had a bus - it would be I'll take all I can .. because we'er all the same people . Just one more thing , this I'm rich and your poor bull-shit can't go on for ever , the haves and the haves not - that just breeds contempt , and one day when it comes to that person helping you out when you need it they will instead kill you and steal from you..and yes that day will come , so injoy your "money" now - because it will be your down fall some day . No were to evacute .
i was riding with a needle exchange program i volunteer with, and one of us raised a really good point. co said co takes 80 miligrams of methadone a day, and without that co would get really twitchy and buggin out. so i'm thinking about all the people crashing on legal and illegal drugs in an insanely stressful situation. i know that if i crash hard off of my meds, i'll be psychotic in three days. not because i'm naturally psychotic, but because that's a side effect of a sudden cutoff of the med. i'm not excusing anything. i could probably sneak in the area and start doing what medic work i can, but i'm not really wanting to be raped. but i understand a little bit of the context.
What is taking place in New Orleans appears to me to be an act of GOD to renew a people of losing faith and save them from their dispair.
What the world is now witnessing is comparable to the Exodus of the Jews in many aspects. The people of the New Orleans region from birth have been doomed from birth to be no more, but probably less than what they are born.
What most state and federal officials are concerned about are the money making factors. As long as the French Quater is in tact the city can be rebuilt. Besides being a major shipping port, New Orleans is also a major tourist city.
Not surprising to me, the French Quater along with other prominent neighborhoods happens to be one of the small areas not affected by after affects of Katrina.
The poor of the New Orleans have been overlooked since the city was established, and is now catching up to the United States.
I dont beleive that the World understands the true scope of this disaster, nor, the true beginning of this disaster. The government has released a monster unto the world. Alot of these people have little education and drug dependencies, mix this with being homeless, losing your entire family, having only faith to depend on, and of course your going to have alot of angry crazy people.
The education system in Orleans parish schools is missing 30-40 million dollars with no trace. Alot of these people are quite happy to be gone, and dont ever want to return to a life of sure poverty, discrimination, and neglect