I've been very disturbed and dissapointed by the looting....but people like this make me think that New Orleans is going to be OK.....
After all they've been through, you've got to admire that kind of spirit.....Rescuers reach Morial Center
But evacuees still waiting to be moved
By PENNY BROWN ROBERTS
Advocate staff writer
NEW ORLEANS -- Clarence Horton couldn't stop the tears.
Five days after Hurricane Katrina devastated this city, help was finally making its way Friday to Convention Center Boulevard.
But these weren't tears of gratitude.
These were tears of dread.
Horton was afraid the sudden heightened military presence in a throng of desperate refugees stranded for days at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center without any relief might bring violence -- and death.
"The first blood or the first bullet, it's over. We're going to have a massacre," the 72-year-old retired Greyhound bus driver said. "Please don't let these people get killed."
As it turned out, there was nothing to fear.
The National Guard arrived at the center en masse shortly after noon Friday.
Two helicopters glided back and forth across a sunny New Orleans sky, assessing the scene below. Minutes later came a convoy of troops, followed by another convoy of tractor-trailers bearing ready-to-eat meals of salsa chicken and bottled water.
Although much-need relief arrived, it still was unclear when the evacuees might be moved from the Convention Center. Hundreds of school buses throughout Louisiana made the pilgrimage to New Orleans and were waiting on the interstate Friday to pick up remaining refugees at the Superdome and possibly those at the Convention Center.
Throughout the city, authorities battled continued looting and at least two fires: one an empty apartment building on South Peters Street, the other in an industrial district in the Bywater neighborhood.
But here, the crowd of an estimated 10,000 spent the night and much of the day clearing a path for rescuers: picking up broken glass, human waste and other debris with shovels, straw brooms, bleach and bare hands, and bagging it.
And they cheered the passing parade of Louisiana and Arkansas National Guard troops and law enforcement with applause, whistles and shouts of "Thank you, Jesus!" and "Yes! Yes! Thank God we're saved!"
New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass hopped aboard a Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office truck and, looking shaken by what he saw, pressed a bullhorn to his lips.
"We've got food and water and medical attention on the way. I'm going to get y'all out of here," he promised. "We got 30,000 people out of the Superdome, and we can get you out, too. I wouldn't lie to you."
By 3 p.m., the crowd -- some of them living in tents fashioned from Mulate's red-checkered tablecloths -- formed single-file lines in the River Center parking lot, next to the Convention Center. For the first time in days, a hush fell over them as National Guard soldiers handed each a ration of food and water.
Though desperate to get out, many of these now homeless and unemployed people already are dreaming of their return to New Orleans.
As they waited, Sharele Youngblood and her 15-year-old son Jeffrey McKnight were among those who piled food wrappers, empty water bottles and cans into plastic bags.
The 36-year-old parent liaison for the Orleans Parish School Board started picking up trash Thursday night -- and did it all over again Friday morning.
"We want the buses to get through without any trouble," Youngblood said. "And we don't want to leave our city messy like this because this is still out city and someday, we'll be coming back home."
Wearing a trademark red hat, Margaret Avalon sat under the shade of a tree, wondering about the fate of her husband.
On Thursday afternoon, he suffered an epileptic seizure while helping distribute food and water dropped by military helicopters. Soldiers pulled him into the chopper.
Saying she was certain he is fine, she also was anticipating her return to New Orleans.
"The Crescent Lady is not defeated, and she's not dead," Avalon said. "She's just got a very bad war wound. But she'll be back better than ever, I don't know about Mardi Gras 2006, but in 2007, we'll be in our usual spot, yelling at Bacchus."
But there are reminders that not everyone will make it.
On the grassy median in the middle of Convention Center Boulevard remained the body of the elderly man who died in his lawn chair. Someone laid over him a gold comforter, leaving exposed only a dirty sock-covered foot that will never take those final steps to freedom, or the trip home again.
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09-03-2005, 01:36 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jul 2001
- Not the end of the earth but I can see it from here...
New Orleans is going to be all right.....Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
"I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream ó and I hope you don't find this too crazy ó is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
ó C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"
09-03-2005, 08:07 PM #2
A very nice article Dwayne. It is so good to know that you and yours fared well, and while the road out will undoubtedly be long, hopefully this entire mess is finally begginning to see the upswing.Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!
09-03-2005, 08:26 PM #3
I lived in the area in the mid-70's. There are a lot of good people there, and the city will rise again. Althought they'll slap each other on the back about the good job they did, it won't be because of the politicians or bureaucrats. It's going to be on the backs of these good people. They'll pull together and work together to survive, and they will do just that and more. New Orleans will be a better place because of what made New Orleans what it was...the solid people that lived there.
It's been 30 years since I was there, but I once called the city home and the people neighbors. It rips me apart to see and hear of such terrible things happening to a great city and those good people. People with a profound spirit, and that spirit is what will feed the recovery of a once great city.Steve Gallagher
"I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes
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