Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina 5

Things are still bad:

Lt. Gen. Steven Blum of the National Guard said 7,000 National Guardsmen arriving in Louisiana on Friday would be dedicated to restoring order in New Orleans. He said half of them had just returned from assignments overseas and are ``highly proficient in the use of lethal force.'' He pledged to ``put down'' the violence ``in a quick and efficient manner.''

``But they are coming here to save Louisiana citizens. The only thing we are attacking is the effects of this hurricane,'' he said. Blum said that a huge airlift of supplies was landing Friday and that it signaled ``the cavalry is and will continue to arrive.''

As he left the White House for his visit to the devastated area, Bush said 600 newly arrived military police officers would be sent to the convention center to secure the site so that food and medicine could get there.

City officials have accused the government - namely the Federal Emergency Management Agency - of being slow to recognize the magnitude of the tragedy and slow to send help.

``Get off your asses and let's do something,'' Mayor Ray Nagin told WWL-AM Thursday night in a rambling interview in which he cursed, yelled and ultimately burst into tears. At one point he said: ``Excuse my French - everybody in America - but I am pissed.''

Across the city, law and order broke down. Police officers turned in their badges. Rescuers, law officers and helicopter were shot at by storm victims. Fistfights and fires broke out Thursday at the hot and stinking Superdome as thousands of people waited in misery to board buses for the Houston Astrodome. Corpses lay out in the open in wheelchairs and in bedsheets. The looting continued.