New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in a Sunday morning CNN interview, said his priority today was to get assistance to the many traumatized firemen and policemen in the city. He said many were in need of mental and physical medical treatment and said there had already been several suicides. He did not say if the suicides were policemen or firemen although the New York Times newspaper reported two police officers had taken their own lives.
He praised them as holding the city together this last week but said they had suffered for it. He was looking to get them reunited with their families and out of the city but was not sure where he could send them saying he was fighting red tape with FEMA to get money for that purpose. "Screw it", he said. "I will pay for it myself".
Firefighters in New Orleans, lacking water, manpower and resources, continued to battle blazes and respond to emergecies as best possible as the weekend begins.
On Saturday, images of some firefighters fighting a blaze at a shopping area on Canal Street in downtown New Orleans filled the airwaves, while a few miles away a warehouse burned significantly. CNN video showed the lone fire boat fighting the blaze leaving the area, possibly taking an injured firefighter for treatment.
CNN reported that the city had ten fire companies operating Saturday atthe Canal Street blaze. Some fire scenes were reported to be aided by water tankers from Mississippi as the water system in New Orleans itself was not useable for firefighting operations.
Also a report that has firefighters concerned, a CNN interview revealed that nine stockpiles of fire and rescue gear around the country had not been activated because it has not been requested, according to the Network.
The stockpile includes generators, radios, SCBA, sleeping gear and other items that is stored by the Department of Homeland Security to supply or replenish up to 150 first responders each. CNN reported that the three closest stockpiles were in Texas, South Carolina and Florida.
While DHS officials told CNN the gear wouldn't be of much help in the current situation, one former official disagreed.
"I think it's sad because you've got almost ... $20 million worth of gear that's ready to be distributed," Steve Beaumont, a retired contract manager for Homeland Security's Prepositioned Equipment Program, told CNN. "You've firefighters (in New Orleans) fighting fires in shorts. That tells me they're running out of stuff."
Firehouse.com has been in contact with some New Orleans firefighters over the past few days.
Other than his personal vehicle, he had lost everything.
On Thursday night, the New Orleans Fire Department was 'in bad shape,' on firefighter said. Many firefighters, both on and off duty, were missing and there was no real accountability system.
At the height of violence in the city most fire department personnel had pulled out of the city and retreated to the suburbs of Algiers across the Mississippi River where they had been under the protection of armed National Guardsman. That situation appeared to improve once the Guard moved into the city to assume law enforcement duties.
Thursday night New Orleans fire officials met prior to the Guard arriving to discuss getting back to work as best possible once order was restored.
Many firefighters were forced to carry weapons themselves, one firefighter said.
Firefighters in shorts were shown on television battling a downtown blaze Friday wearing in what appeared to be makeshift crews.
Local media and others have reported that as much as two-thirds of the New Orleans Police Department had abandoned their posts during the week. Some turned in their badges directly, while others left to ensure their families were safe.
Many of the firefighters in the city have been victims of violence on the streets from civilians and at times were in extreme danger. Although as of Saturday, there were no confirmed reports of serious firefighter injuries or deaths.