Sunday, September 04, 2005

Guardsmen 'played cards' amid New Orleans chaos: police official

Look at that Photo. a few of the tens of thousands of people stranded with no way to escape the flood waters. I've heard too many first hand accounts of families trapped in attics when trying to escape the rising water, only to have no way to escape the refuge they found. In Chalmette 100 people died waiting on rescuers. know why? no food or water. Whoever thought that 40 trucks was enough of a rescue mission should be jailed. not fired, jailed. to think anyone with such a job would betray the city like that.

NEW ORLEANS, United States (AFP) - A top New Orleans police officer said that National Guard troops sat around playing cards while people died in the stricken city after Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans deputy police commander W.S. Riley launched a bitter attack on the federal response to the disaster though he praised the way the evacuation was eventually handled.

'We expected a lot more support from the federal government. We expected the government to respond within 24 hours. The first three days we had no assistance,' he told AFP in an interview.

Riley went on: 'We have been fired on with automatic weapons. We still have some thugs around. My biggest disappointment is with the federal government and the National Guard.

'The guard arrived 48 hours after the hurricane with 40 trucks. They drove their trucks in and went to sleep.

'For 72 hours this police department and the fire department and handful of citizens were alone rescuing people. We have people who died while the National Guard sat and played cards. I understand why we are not winning the war in Iraq if this is what we have.'

Riley said there is "a semblance of organisation now."

"The military is here and they have done an excellent job with the evacuation" of the tens of thousands of people stranded in the city.

The National Guard commander said the city police force was left with only a third of its pre-storm strength.

"The real issue, particularly in New Orleans, is that no one anticipated the disintegration or the erosion of the civilian police force in New Orleans," Blum told reporters in Washington.

"Once that assessment was made ... then the requirement became obvious," he said. "And that's when we started flowing military police into the theatre."

On Friday, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin denounced the slow federal response as too little, too late, charging that promised troops had not arrived in time.

"Now get off your asses and let's do something and fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country," the mayor said in remarks aired on CNN.

Blum said that since Thursday some 7,000 National Guard and military police had moved into the city.
President George W. Bush on Saturday ordered an additional 7,000 active duty and reserve ground troops.

Blum said any suggestion that the National Guard had not performed well or was late was a "low blow".

The initial priority of the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard forces was disaster relief, not law enforcement, because they expected the police to handle that, he said.

The police commander was unable to give a death toll for New Orleans.

"We have bodies all over the city. A federal mortuary team was supposed to come in within 24 hours. We haven't seen them. It is inhumane. This is just not America."

Riley said he did not even know how many police remained from a normal force of 1,700.

"Many officers lost their homes or their families and there are many we have not heard from. Some officers could not handle the pressure and left. I don't know if we have 800 or thousands today.

No comments: