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Where Are The Relief Workers?

excerpts from a report by Tim Harper. September 2, 2005

As one navigates ravaged New Orleans from the east, through Kenner and Jefferson Parish, past the airport and toward the French Quarter, driving flooded streets till the filthy water gets too deep, then trying alternate routes, it is the human toll, not the physical toll, which worsens.

First, there is a single barefoot man walking aimlessly along Airline Highway. Then others slogging through the floodwaters of Metairie. Then families trudging dispiritedly along the roads of Kenner. Then, by the time you get to Napoleon and St. Charles in New Orleans, close to 100 sit silently in the middle of debris, watching the strange car navigate among the downed trees in their neighbourhood.

Later, down St. Charles, some try to stop you to ask for rides — "I have a baby ..." — others glare sardonically, while others peer at the car blankly.

Through downtown, toward the French Quarter, the refugees congregate in groups of 10 or 20. Some have guns, some have crowbars or iron bars, and, mindful of carjackings, you dispense with the hurricane etiquette of treating darkened intersections as four-way stops.

When you park on Canal St. to get a sense of the enormity of the refugee flow as people come down the Interstate overpass, many pushing shopping carts or luggage racks, you sense the desperation. You park close to where others are parked and you regret that you can't pack them all in your backseat and get them out of there.

And you wonder where the relief workers are.

You have been reading excerpts from "New Orleans on a hair-trigger" by Tim Harper. You can read the entire piece here: tinyurl.com/9s7ex. Thanks to informationclearinghouse.info. We visit often and we hope you will too.

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