Friday, September 02, 2005

Explosions, armed prisoners in jail - reports

New Orleans is waking up to another morning of lawlessness and gradual evacuation as the first influx of military arrives and a heated nationwide debate takes place on the rescue and protection efforts.

The first priority for all personnel remains the evacuation and drainage of the city. The Times-Picayune reports that levee breaches occurred because the water pouring over the top of the flood walls eroded the ground on the other side to a depth of 26 feet, causing sections of floodwall to become mobile. The death toll estimates rise all the time:

State lawmakers and local officials who have made tours of the flooded areas have reported that bodies are floating in the streets but are being ignored in favor of having a fleet of more than 300 boats rescue survivors.

“It is not a pretty sight,” said Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who has toured the stricken area participated in some rescue missions.

Blanco estimated as many as 200,000 to 300,000 area residents may have remained at their homes and refused to evacuate, heightening the death toll.

At this moment, reports are coming in that fires and an explosion have erupted near Chartres Street, which is where the city’s streetcars are housed. See the CNN link above for now — there will be more links and stories on this throughout the day. The State Governor has warned armed gangs, thieves and rapists in the ruined city that military personnel moving into the area are freshly back from Iraq and are more than willing to use their weapons to quell lawlessness.

More on this later, but for now the most updated news sources are WWLTV’s update page (republished every few minutes), (the Times-Picayune’s token page, which also publishes a daily paper in PDF format), CNN and Google News.

Update 1

The explosion was at a chemical facility near the French Quarter, recent reports say. Also, Bush has just embarked on his tour of the region, to the refrain of New Orleans city mayor Ray Nagin’s comment: “I keep hearing that it’s coming. This is coming. That is coming. My answer to that is B.S. Where is the beef?”

Bush said that the results of the relief efforts mounted so far “are not acceptable”.

A lot of people [have been] working hard to help those who’ve been affected. And I want to thank the people for their efforts. The results are not acceptable.

I’m heading down there right now. I’m looking forward to talking to the people on the ground.

I want to assure the people of the affected areas and this country that we’ll deploy the assets necessary to get the situation under control, to get the help to the people who’ve been affected, and that we’re beginning long-term planning to help those who have been displaced, as well as long-term planning to help rebuild the communities that have been affected.

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