Hurricane Katrina - Letter from a Louisiana resident
Letter from a Louisiana resident, someone on the "West Bank" of New Orleans.
Those of us in La. know who screwed up this disaster. Our Governor, the levee board, the Corps of Engineers and the New Orleans Mayor are primarily to blame with the incompetence of FEMA being secondary.
By the way, things have improved significantly. We give credit to our armed forces who have taken the pressure off of local law enforcement allowing them to regain control of our cities. I've often wondered why New Orleans police have a reputation for being tough, no nonsense guys -- I now understand.
The looting here has been bad. You won't see it on TV, since we're not even close to being newsworthy considering all the deprivation, death and suffering being reported. Our parish took in the first 600 evacuees, and put them up in one of our brand new high schools located next to I-10. In l0 hours they had trashed the school, torn out urinals, ripped the bleachers out of the gym and trashed the classrooms and computers.
We moved them, plus 600 more to a place across the Interstate at an expo center. By Tuesday night, there were 3 car jackings and 3 armed robberies. So we had to call in our deputies, police and Nat'l Guard troops to guard the evacuees. Most of our law enforcement had been down in New Orleans working the rescue mission. The same stories apply to Baton Rouge, only multiply the numbers 10 fold. My godson/nephew is the chief of the K-9 Department in Shreveport, 250 miles north of Baton Rouge. He had been in
New Orleans working on the rescue till now, except he has been called back to Shreveport tonight to protect against the looting there. Mandy works for a doctor in a clinic next to our small hospital in Gonzales. It's situated across the Interstate from the evacuee center. At 11 AM yesterday (Thursday), the police locked down the hospital and the clinic to protect them from looters. The clinic closed down at 2 PM and the medical staff got escorts out of the vicinity.
The national news seems to carry a constant theme of Louisiana politicians crying "shame, shame America". "Where's the government?" It's the mantra de jour. Our governor had the power to declare martial law and commandeer school buses to evacuate the New Orleans folks. She did not. Her news conferences are unscheduled, unformatted ramblings, punctuated with tears and calls for help and prayers......but not much information or direction. She has been noticeably absent from sight today since the President toured. Maybe I can't see the forest for the trees here, but I don't want any of you "Americans out there" to accept any blame for the lack of immediate response when it was clearly the responsibility of local and state government officials.
Frank H. Kean, III 1614 LaSalle Parc Baton Rouge, La. 70806