Good Company

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Convention Center Blues in NO

Aid was attempted to be delivered to the New Orleans Convention Center as reported here. However, there is a crowd control issue:
At the convention center, where thousands have camped in the streets since Monday awaiting buses out of the city, the despair feeds on itself like a voracious beast.

When National Guard helicopters attempt to land supplies in the parking lot, waiter Bob Vineyard joins a self-appointed ground crew attempting to set up a safe perimeter. The crowd surges past them with an almost feral intensity, and the chopper crew is forced to take off.

The soldiers drop cases of water and self-heating meals from 10 feet in the air. Many of the bottles burst on impact, the precious water left to evaporate in the hot sun.

"We would have had a whole helicopter full of food if you had stayed back!" Vineyard shouts at the crowd, with disgust. "Hey, y'all. I did my best."

Carl Davis wonders why someone can't just truck the food in and hand it out in an orderly fashion. Rather than taking comfort in the food drops, he finds the process insulting, demeaning.

"They're giving it to us like we're in the Third World," he spits. "This should never have happened. It didn't happen in Iraq, and it didn't happen in the tsunami."
I am confused as to why the highway overpass on which Fox's Shepard Smith is standing isn't receiving water and food for the people on it. There must be something we aren't seeing on the tv coverage.

UPDATE: I'm very confused over Geraldo's reporting tonight on the Convention Center and the alleged lack of aid in light of this:
With a cigar-chomping general in the convoy's lead vehicle, the trucks rolled through muddy water to reach the convention center. Flatbed trucks carried huge crates, pallets and bags of relief supplies, including Meals Ready to Eat. Soldiers in fatigues sat in the backs of open-top trucks, their rifles pointing skyward.

Guardsmen carrying rifles also arrived at the Louisiana Superdome, where a vast crowd of bedraggled people — many of them trapped there since the weekend — stretched around the entire perimeter of the building, waiting for their deliverance from the heat, the filth and the gagging stench inside the stadium.

"The cavalry is and will continue to arrive," said Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, commander of the National Guard. He said 7,000 Guardsmen would be in the city by Saturday.

But another commander warned it may yet be days more before evacuations from the convention center begin, because the first priority is bringing in food and water.

"As fast as we can, we'll move them out," said Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore said. "Worse things have happened to America," he added. "We're going to overcome this, too. It's not our fault. The storm came and flooded the city."

Within minutes of the soldiers' arrival at the convention center, they set up six food and water lines. The crowd was for the most part orderly and grateful for the first major supply convoy to reach the arena.

Diane Sylvester, 49, was the first person through the line, and she emerged with two bottles of water and a pork rib meal. "Something is better than nothing," she said as she mopped sweat from her brow. "I feel great to see the military here. I know I'm saved."

Angela Jones, 24, began guzzling her water before she even cleared the line.

"Like steak and potatoes!" she said of the cool water. "I didn't think I was going to make it through that."

A rag shielding her from the searing heat and a cart holding her only belongings, 70-year-old Nellie Washington asked: "What took you so long? I'm extremely happy, but I cannot let it be at that. They did not take the lead to do this. They had to be pushed to do it."
Am I missing more than usual?

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