Katrina has gone but in New Orleans a different storm, a storm of violence unleashed by the decay of community and control, has been raging through the submerged city. As more disturbing tales reach the news, I am reminded of Escape From New York, the John Carpenter film in which Manhattan has been walled in and declared a prison. Inside the walls, chaos reigned. Right now it looks like chaos is king of the Big Easy. Laissez les mauvais temps rouler…
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.”
National Guard troops in armored vehicles poured into New Orleans on Thursday to curb the growing lawlessness that included shots fired at helicopters airlifting people out of the Superdome and carjackings of buses helping with evacuations.
“We were told they are shooting at Chinook helicopters and the operation has been put on hold until daylight,” said Gloria Roemer.
Looters and armed gangs “are starting to get closer to heavily populated areas — hotels, hospitals and we’re going to stop it right now,” Nagin said.
Police were asking residents to give up any firearms before they evacuated neighborhoods because officers desperately needed the firepower: Some officers who had been stranded on the roof of a hotel said they were shot at.
From the BBC News:
A spokesman for the Louisiana ambulance service told the BBC the crowd had grown unruly and he was concerned for the safety of his staff.
He said a national guard had been shot, but he had not been seriously injured.