More material for the forthcoming public access special, PFC Pantload Live From the Yakov Smirnoff Theater:
There are four levels of hell inside the refugee city of the Superdome, home to about 15,000 people since Sunday. On the artificial-turf field and in the lower-level seats where Montrel sat sweltering with her family, a form of civilization had taken hold — smelly, messy, dark and dank, but with a structure. Families with cots used their beds as boundaries for personal space and kept their areas orderly, a cooler on one corner, the toys on another, almost as if they had come for fireworks and stayed too long.
The bathrooms, clogged and overflowing since Monday, announced the second level of hell, the walkway ringing the entrance level. In the men’s, the urinal troughs were overflowing. In the women’s, the bowls were to the brim. A slime of excrement and urine made the walkway slick. “You don’t even go there anymore,” said Dee Ford, 37, who was pushed in a wading pool from her flooded house to the shelter. “You just go somewhere in a corner where you can. In the dark, you are going to step in poo anyway.”
Water and electricity both failed Monday, and three pumps to pressurize plumbing have been no match “when the lake just keeps pushing it back at us,” said Maj. Ed Bush, the chief public affairs officer for the Louisiana National Guard.
“With no hand-washing, and all the excrement,” said Sgt. Debra Williams, who was staffing the infirmary in the adjacent sports arena, “you have about four days until dysentery sets in. And it’s been four days today.”
Bottled water was too precious to use for washing; adults get two bottles a day. Food, mostly Meals Ready-to-Eat, is dispensed in a different line. Many refugees told of waiting in line for hours only to be told no food was left.
Damn “refugees,” trying to claim the “sanctity” of “victum status”!
Walking about the perimeter of the Superdome, in brilliant sunshine and blistering heat, [Maj.] Bush could take no more than a few steps before angry and pleading residents clutched at him. An elderly woman could not get her thyroid medicine; another needed dialysis. A 3-week-old baby, clad only in a diaper, lay listless in her young mother’s arm. She had a fever.
“I know this sounds like a stupid question,” began a young woman wearing a “Home Sweet Louisiana” T-shirt, “but how are we supposed to go on as a community? As a people?”
“Be patient,” Maj. Bush answered. “Help is on the way.”
The president and the governor both asserted Wednesday that everyone would be moving to a spiffier football stadium. But although Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco had announced at 11 a.m. a plan to evacuate the Superdome to Houston’s Astrodome, Maj. Bush had received no information through mid-afternoon. By his estimate about 15,000 people remained in the Superdome, and more straggled in through the day, either wading in on foot or dropped off by a helicopter rescue effort that so far has plucked 3,000 people from the roofs of flooded homes.
Communication is spotty throughout New Orleans, which remains without power and swamped with warm, waist-high water in many places. Only one route is passable into the city and authorities have sealed it off to all but emergency vehicles, although a few media people managed to pass the checkpoint. On television, high-level officials said they hoped the evacuation would be complete in 48 hours. Public officials at the Superdome said they thought that was unrealistic. With water so high around the stadium, people can be moved only a few handfuls at a time on large-tired trucks, which will transport them to buses on the interstate.
Well, look, if you didn’t want to be exposed to serious diseases in hellish living conditions while waiting to be moved to another football stadium a few people at a time, you should have had the foresight to have a mother who could arrange for you to get a sinecure with a rapidly-declining conservative magazine…