Saturday, September 03, 2005


Things are coming back together

There were continued signs of the efforts to restore order.Guns pointed skyward in the back of troop transport vehicles, Friday's initial deployment of about 7,000 soldiers from all over the country first moved in on the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, where they encountered a small city of angry and desperate refugees along a boulevard littered with now putrefying corpses.Soldiers offloaded pallets of food and water, in some cases tossing the supplies at upwards of 15,000 refugees seething from their exposure to subhuman conditions brought on by lack of sustenance and sewerage. A motorcade of 95 air-conditioned buses broke away from the troop transport vehicles they had been following and made for the Superdome, the city's shelter of last resort, to complete an evacuation that on Thursday had pared back a refugee population that peaked at about 25,000. The show of force began to yield results, but not without incident. One unit in a five-bus caravan had reached Opelousas when it flipped on its side, killing one passenger and injuring 17 others. Other convoys carried 4,200 people to airstrips for further evacuation out of the region, and by early evening the Superdome was expected to be empty, Brig. Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, deputy commander of the National Guard's Katrina Task Force, said late Friday afternoon. The Convention Center throng was reduced by 1,000, he said. In addition, a fleet of six small planes - soon to be expanded to a dozen - airlifted 438 patients from city hospitals. The Coast Guard continued to ply flooded neighborhoods working alongside a private flotilla of several hundred boats to pluck survivors from rooftops, attics and highway ramps and bridges. By Friday, the tally of those rescued by the Coast Guard had topped 4,000, Capt. Sharon Richey said.

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