The real heroes and sheroes of New Orleans

I got this from a friend who works in the healthcare field. Even though there is a definite slant to the article, what it details is still horrendous.
 
An excerpt:

September 9, 2005 | Pages 4 and 5

LARRY BRADSHAW and LORRIE BETH SLONSKY are emergency medical services (EMS) workers from San Francisco and contributors to Socialist Worker. They were attending an EMS conference in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck. They spent most of the next week trapped by the flooding--and the martial law cordon around the city. Here, they tell their story.

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TWO DAYS after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreens store at the corner of Royal and Iberville Streets in the city’s historic French Quarter remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing, and the milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat.

The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers and prescriptions, and fled the city. Outside Walgreens’ windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry. The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized, and the windows at Walgreens gave way to the looters.

There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices and bottled water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead, they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.

We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home on Saturday. We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreens in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with “hero” images of the National Guard, the troops and police struggling to help the “victims” of the hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed, were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans.

The maintenance workers who used a forklift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, “stealing” boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hotwire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the city. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens, improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

Annette

Comments

  1. The same friend who pointed me to this article sent the following:


    French Quarter residents defy evacuation, begin rebuilding their community
    By David Van Deusen | Special to the Vermont Guardian

    posted September 9, 2005

    NEW ORLEANS — As authorities finally move in to re-establish order in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they are finding organized, efficient groups of volunteers already in place, feeding and clothing people and even beginning to rebuild some of the neighborhoods fortunate enough to have escaped flooding.

    In the French Quarter, which had no water damage, people acted fast. Within 48 hours, residents formed ad hoc community centers and created new organizations to try and address their acute needs.

    Today, community leaders estimate that 200-300 people remain in the quarter. Like other parts of the region, living conditions are bad, but they are getting by in part because of the unity demonstrated by these residents.

    Public houses

    Two community centers have risen out of this storm. Both are old wooden pubs. One is Molly’s at the Market on Decatur Street; the other is Johnny White’s on Bourbon Street. The former is open every day from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., as a place for people to get together to exchange information and resources. The latter does this too, but has evolved into a kind of shelter/supply depot/first aid station.

    “We are the community center. It started out as just a bar and then people started bringing food here. People started bringing clothes and water. Suddenly, it became a soup kitchen and a homeless center,” said bartender Joe Bahme, a former pararescuer in the Air Force.

    Many of the supplies are donated by residents. It has become common, when a person decides to evacuate, for them to drop off their useful belongings to one of these centers. In the past few days, they have also been receiving goods from the National Guard and the Army.

    [snip] continued on the site at http://www.vermontguardian.com/national/0904/FrenchQuarter.shtml

    ReplyDelete

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