These are more comments on the http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/WWLBLOG.ac3fcea.html coverage. I know that people can read these for themselves, but commenting helps me to gain a bit of perspective on the events... I'm not having nightmares about storms and not reliving hurricane Frances, which was going on for me at this time last year. That's a good thing in my life personally.
2:20 P.M. - From Weezie Porter: WWL-TV Sales account executive. I evacuated with my family to Nashville. The people we are staying with have a relative in the Chateau Living Center in Kenner 716 Village Road. Their phone is working from time to time 504-464-0604. They report that all of the nurses have left, Only a few aides left there that have been working since Friday. They were supposed to be evacuated by bus but they did not show up. No medications have been given since Sunday,. 4 patients have died.
This is unconscionable to me. How can doctors and nurses just up and walk out on sick people? I can understand the need to take care of one's family... But when you work in health care, you're taking on responsibility for someone else's family. Many of those people's lives depend on medication. It just seems completely wrong.
3:33 P.M. - (AP) -- The latest video from New Orleans shows apartment buildings with people crowded on balconies and roofs. Below, flood waters lap at the second floor. Two children standing on one roof held up a sign that read: "Help us."
A Blackhawk helicopter crew rescued at least eight people from a roof where, in red spray paint, was written the words "Diabetic, Heart Transplant, Need transportation."
Two-by-two, the chopper hoisted the people off the roof as the wash from its rotors blew shingles off another section of the building and caused small waves in the water below.
Other shots show people standing at windows and on balconies, some waving white towels to attract the attention of possible rescuers.
The flood waters cover everything as far as the eye can see.
In the bright sunlight, there's a sheen caused by gasoline seeping from the underground tanks of a gas station. Three people who were standing in the bed of a flooded pickup truck later waded and swam through those waters, trying to reach safety.
This is the first thing remotely like a description of something one would see on footage on the news that I've run across. How scary for the kids... It's something they will never forget.
3:38 P.M. - HOUSTON (AP) -- Red Cross workers today began transforming what was once known as the Eighth Wonder of the World -- into temporary housing.
Buses will shuttle thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees from the Superdome in New Orleans to the vacant Astrodome in Houston.
Cots and blankets for up to 25-thousand people are being set up on the Astrodome floor.
Other areas of the stadium are being configured to accommodate refugees with varying needs, including a nursery. Stadium managers are working to get T-V's and find programming to allow people to keep up with the latest news about flooded New Orleans.
The Astrodome agreement was worked out by Texas Governor Rick Perry and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.
I had wondered how they were going to put all those people in the Astro Dome and what they were doing about babies... I wonder very silly things like if they turn the lights out at particular times. What do they do with people with disabilities and service animals? Btw, I did read that there were some relief efforts going on for pets... I wonder how people will get reunited with their pets if they have no home to go to. That's such a scary thing to think about!
3:40 P.M. - WWL photographer Willie Wilson: People being rescued from Chalmette were begging for water, wanted to talk to family members. People rescued in Chalmette were ferried across to Algiers. People hot and parched from days on roof tops.
There are aspects of this that I don't even think about, can't even comprehend... I'm sitting here in an air-conditioned house, and it's 80 degrees outside... I'm only running one window unit today, and it's tolerable... I can't even fathom surviving for days on a rooftop with no food or water when it's 95 to 100 degrees outside. Would I even be lucid? And without my meds... The seizures...
3:41 P.M. - (AP) -- With law officers and National Guardsmen focused on saving lives, looters around the city spent another day Wednesday brazenly ransacking stores for food, beer, clothing, appliances -- and guns.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco said she has asked the White House to send more people to help with evacuations and rescues, thereby freeing up National Guardsmen to stop looters.
"Once we get the 3,000 National Guardsmen here, we're locking this place down," Mayor Ray Nagin said. "It's really difficult because my opinion of the looting is it started with people running out of food, and you can't really argue with that too much. Then it escalated to this kind of mass chaos where people are taking electronic stuff and all that."
Amid the chaos Wednesday, thieves commandeered a forklift and used it to push up the storm shutters and break the glass of a pharmacy. The crowd stormed the store, carrying out so much ice, water and food that it dropped from their arms as they ran. The street was littered with packages of ramen noodles and other items.
Looters also chased down a state police truck full of food. The New Orleans police chief ran off looters while city officials themselves were commandeering equipment from a looted Office Depot. During a state of emergency, authorities have broad powers to take private supplies and buildings for their use.
In thinking about the looting... I can't even say that it's just wrong... If people are in the condition I just spoke of, what is their mental state even like? Some would be desperate enough to do anything... Others are just plain suffering withdrawal from drugs, and I guess some just seize opportunity when it comes. Never mind there's nowhere to take the stuff or sell it. For those who can think straight, they should be ashamed of themselves. But are any of them really aware of what they're doing? I was talking to aglarendis last night about Jesus praying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." I have such a tendency to assume that people know exactly what they are doing because they know physically what they are doing. But as my own life demonstrates, it's possible to know perfectly well what one is doing physically and have no understanding of the deeper impact of it. They really don't know what they're doing; and more often than not, when they see what they've done, it shakes them to the core. One of the articles I read said that someone shot his sister in the head over some water. Did he have his wits about him? When he had drunk that water, did he look at his sister's body and weep, knowing that he killed her for a drink of water that would not last?
3:45 P.M. (AP) - Hurricane Katrina probably killed thousands of people in New Orleans, the mayor said Wednesday -- an estimate that, if accurate, would make the storm the nation's deadliest natural disaster since at least the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and other people dead in attics, Mayor Ray Nagin said. Asked how many, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."
The frightening estimate came as Army engineers struggled to plug New Orleans' breached levees with giant sandbags and concrete barriers, while authorities drew up plans to clear out the tens of thousands of people left in the Big Easy and all but abandon the flooded-out city. Many of the evacuees -- including thousands now staying in the Superdome -- will be moved to the Astrodome in Houston, 350 miles away.
I'm glad they're finally talking about this--I don't need to say any more.
3:49 P.M. - Survivor from Chalmette: We spent two days on a roof, swam to a storefront, food was pouring out, we ate it, we drank the water. We had to do something. There's no help.
With all that we know about public health risks, when it comes down to living or dying, sometimes choices have to be made... This gives new meaning to Jesus' promises that believers would pick up snakes, drink poisonous things, etc, and not be harmed.
3:50 P.M. - Crying woman: "I'll never stay for a hurricane again."
Like I said, I'll never even live on the coastline again--at least not without a means to leave.
4:11 P.M. - BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) -- The scenes of devastation from the Gulf Coast are all too familiar to survivors of the December tsunami in Asia.
A World Bank executive in Sri Lanka says she prays and hopes not many women in the U.S. will suffer as she has. She lost her brother in the December 26 tsunami that raked over Asian nations. She and others have strong memories of the event when they see the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina.
An Indonesian man who lost his wife the tsunami says he would like to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but all he has is prayers.
Another man, who lost his wife and daughter in December, says, "God has made us equals in birth, life and death."
Though damage from Katrina is enormous, the rising death count is far short of the 200-thousand dead or missing following the tsunami.
This is the kind of media discussion of Katrina vs. tsunami that I like to see.
5:10 P.M. - AUSTIN, TX (AP): Texas public schools will enroll children of Hurricane Katrina refugees sheltered within each district.
The Texas Education Agency has been directed to provide all needed support for districts having to absorb children from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. TEA has said the refugee children can qualify as "homeless" and may enroll without proof of residence.
Also, normal immunization requirements for attending school or child-care facilities in Texas will be temporarily waived for children displaced by the hurricane. Schools are allowed to waive the 22-to-one teacher-student requirement.
Districts with an influx of 50 or more students can get an immediate funding increase, rather than waiting until the end of the school year.
Austin schools are working to ensure the students get backpacks, school supplies and clothes.
I'm glad they are doing something to help the kids get clothes, too. Being a homeless student is extremely stigmatizing. At first other students may be curious, but eventually it will hurt to be "the hurricane kid."
THURSDAY 12:29 A.M. - CNN: A Harris County judge is now describing an Orleans Parish bus that arrived at Houston's Astrodome late Wednesday night as a "renegade" bus, CNN reports. Astrodome officials were not expecting a caravan of Greyhound buses carrying Superdome evacuees until Thursday
12:35 A.M. - AP: Harris County judge Robert Eckels said that the bus was driven by a young person who found it in New Orleans, picked up a bunch of others and drove it to Houston.
12:38 A.M. - CNN: Two more buses have arrived at Houston's Astrodome. One of the buses, an Sierra Trailways tour bus, has been confirmed by Harris County officials as part of the official caravan from the Superdome. Officials were not able to confirm the status of the other, an Orleans Parish School Bus.
1:06 A.M. - CNN: Officials are confirming that the second Orleans Parish school bus to arrive at Houston's Astrodome was another "renegade bus" and not from the Superdome. The Astrodome will take in refugees from all three buses.
Ok... Here is a problem... The astro Dome is set up to take refugees from the Super Dome... But what is going to happen with all the other refugees that haven't found a place to go yet? No one has made any plans for this. Since the bit with the Astro Dome has been broadcast all over the world and previously everyone was being told to go to the Super Dome, it's only natural that people would go to the Astro Dome. The way these things were written, it almost seems that they could start turning away refugees because they aren't from the official rescue effort. So then what do the rest of the refugees do who couldn't make it to the Super Dome in time? It's something someone should be thinking about.
1:08 A.M. - AP: Late Wednesday, Tenet Healthcare Corp. asked Louisiana State Police and the U.S. Coast Guard to help evacuate one of its hospitals in Gretna after a supply truck carrying food, water, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals was held up by gunmen.
"We have to close it down because we can no longer ensure the safety of our patients or our staff in that hospital," Tenet spokesman Steven Campanini said of the 203-bed Meadowcrest Hospital.
He said there were about 350 employees and between 125 to 150 patients inside the hospital, which is not flooded and is functioning.
Ok, now I have to think people really don't know what they are doing... Part of me wants to say, "Loot away, but let the sick people be cared for!"
1:11 A.M. - AP: The weary, disheartened residents of the sweltering Superdome began making their way to Houston's Astrodome on Wednesday, with the first group of about 50 arriving about 12:30 a.m. CDT Thursday.
Harris County Judge Robert Eckels said the 40-year-old Astrodome is "not suited well" for such a large crowd long-term, but officials are prepared to house the displaced New Orleanians as long as possible.
"This is a city of 20,000 people that is going to be here for a while," Eckels said. "The Dome will be fine for a few days. It could even go for weeks for some of these folks."
I'm still really not certain how smart is is to house all those people in the Astro Dome, particularly during the height of hurricane season. I guess time will tell.
5:33 A.M. - (AP) -Service station manager Randy Schuette is getting quite a workout changing the gasoline prices on his station's large sign.
"I bet I'm not done, either," he said Wednesday, hoisting price placards with a 20-foot pole at his station in Bismarck, N.D. At one point, he ran out of decimals, so a gallon's cost read $317.
"I don't have any three's with decimal points," he said. "Never needed them. I'm assuming people know that it's not $317 a gallon, but the day's not over yet, either."
Price hikes were evident at stations nationwide Wednesday as gasoline costs breached $3 a gallon in numerous states, the result of fuel pipeline shutdowns and delayed deliveries since Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Mississippi earlier this week.
Gas prices jumped by more than 50 cents a gallon Wednesday in Ohio, 40 cents in Georgia and 30 cents in Maine. The increases followed price spikes on wholesale and futures markets Tuesday after the hurricane knocked off-line refineries and pipeline links along the Gulf Coast that provide about a third of the country's gasoline supplies.
On one hand, I'm glad I don't drive... On the other, I don't relish the idea of listening to drivers complain--and not driving doesn't exempt me from being affected by the rising gas prices like drivers assume it does. I'm a little cranky thinking about it, mostly because just thinking about people's standard complaints about the gas prices makes me think about the number of people who tell me on a regular basis that I should be glad I don't have to pay for gas. I don't have to pay for it directly... But then whoever just told me that doesn't have to pay $7 just to drive five miles one way! (That was before the rise in prices.)
6:15 A.M. - (AP) Managers at the Covenant Home nursing center were prepared to cope with power outages and supply shortages following Hurricane Katrina. They weren't ready for looters. The nursing home lost its bus after the driver surrendered it to carjackers. Groups of people then drove by the center, shouting to residents, "Get out!"
On Wednesday, 80 residents, most of them in wheelchairs, were evacuated to other nursing homes in the state.
"We had excellent plans. We had enough food for 10 days," said Peggy Hoffman, the home's executive director. "Now we'll have to equip our department heads with guns and teach them how to shoot."
6:17 A.M. - (AP) - Responding to reports of widespread looting, the president says there should be "zero-tolerance" for lawbreakers during the disaster. Bush says he's told law officials to move against anyone who engages in looting, price-gouging, insurance fraud or any other crime to take advantage of the situation.
7:00 A.M. - "For the next two or three months, in this area, there will not be any commerce, at all. No electricity, no restaurants. This is the real deal. It's not living conditions." -- New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
First of all, what happened at the nursing home makes me sick! 'Nuff said! On a more mature note, unfortunately it seems people are just going to take these things as empty threats. No one can stop this behavior, and the people are very aware of it. There are no jails, no communications, no means of transporting criminals even if they do get caught. The only way to really stop them is to kill them. Are we really going to do that? Some people will probably call some bluffs...
7:37 A.M. - (AP) The evacuation of the Superdome was suspended Thursday after shots were fired at a military helicopter, an ambulance official overseeing the operation said. No immediate injuries were reported.
"We have suspended operations until they gain control of the Superdome," said Richard Zeuschlag, head of Acadian Ambulance, which was handling the evacuation of sick and injured people from the Superdome.
He said that military would not fly out of the Superdome either because of the gunfire and that the National Guard told him that it was sending 100 military police officers to gain control.
"That's not enough," Zeuschlag. "We need a thousand."
Ok, so we have people preventing sick people from getting care, people preventing refugees from getting out, etc. Isn't it bad enough already? Has anyone read the Left Behind series? Doesn't seem so fictional anymore looking at this--except that this is limited to one city. I don't even want to think about it... But burying my head in the sand isn't going to do me or anyone else any good. My church takes a neutral stand on the issue of "End Times" events. I don't--I can't. I think that's fodder for another entry, but I can't neglect mentioning it when I'm reading this stuff.
8:50 A.M. - (AP): -- The world is reacting to America's disaster. Saudi Arabia says it's ready to increase crude oil production to replace market shortages. Venezuela is offering humanitarian aid and fuel. Canada's Red Cross is assembling volunteers. French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder sent messages of sympathy to President Bush.
Pope Benedict says he's praying for victims of the "tragic" hurricane while China's President Hu Jintao expressed his belief that the American people would "rebuild their beautiful homeland."
But not all responses were positive. Islamic extremists are rejoicing. Internet chatter referred to the storm as "Private" Katrina, and said it had joined the global holy war against the U.S.
Why does that last part not surprise me? *sigh*