John LaCour writes:
I was born in Baton Rouge, LA. I grew up in Lafayette, New Iberia, Opelousas, and New Orleans, and spent every summer on Grand Isle. At the start of every hurricane season the local news, papers, etc cover the usual annual information regarding hurricanes and evacuation plans. They explain about needing to keep an ample stock of fresh water and food for every member of the household, batteries, flashlights, etc; and they show the official evacuation routes and ask that you plan how you will evacuate and where you will go. This is done EVERY YEAR. In the city of New Orleans the order for Mandatory Evacuation was given a full 48 hours before the hurricane arrived, with police and fire going through the neighborhoods telling everyone to evacuate over their loudspeakers. This is a part of the life of everyone that lives along the Gulf Coast. They all know what to do and how to do it. You grow up hearing it every single year. There was no surprise, there was ample warning, and there was ample opportunity to leave.
As for the response post-Katrina, on Monday everyone was breathing a sigh of relief that New Orleans was spared. Rescue efforts were being geared to the Mississippi and Alabama coasts where the population densities were higher than the marsh lands south east of New Orleans. It wasn’t until the levies failed late Monday night and early Tuesday morning that there was a need for more extensive planning in New Orleans. After that it was the failure of the Mayor to quickly order a total evacuation, and the Governor’s failure for not over-stepping him and ordering it herself that caused a crisis to turn into a catastrophe. Once the flooding was complete there was no way for the people left in the city to escape. Furthermore, it was the Mayor’s and the Governor’s fault for not mobilizing the Louisiana National Guard as early as Tuesday when it became apparent that the city was going to totally flood, and it was their fault that they also did not give orders to shoot-to-kill any looter stealing more than food, water, or shoes. In Mississippi the Governor almost immediately gave shoot-to-kill orders for looters. How many looting stories have made the news from Mississippi?
A very close friend’s sister lived in New Orleans, stayed at her home through the hurricane and only made it out yesterday. On Wednesday she and her neighbor decided they had to leave even though their homes were in the 20% that didn’t flood. They spent that day gathering what food and water they had, loading their guns, and testing possible routes out. On their second try they met up with two New Orleans police officers who at gun-point ordered them to return home telling them they “would not” help them. On Thursday, when they left, their SUV was mobbed by a huge crowd that tried to pull them out of their car and take it. Brandishing their guns they were able to escape. Along their route out of town they witnessed murders and mounds of bodies lining the streets. Had they not left I doubt they would have survived.