Category Archives: Hurricane Katrina
It was three days after the levees broke: Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005 — in my limited view, the day things completely fell apart in New Orleans.
The desperation was mounting. The cavalry wasn’t coming, it seemed. We were in it alone.
As we drove up Religious Street, just past the Saulet Apartments, we saw a dicey situation ahead. Police-issue Crown Victorias blocking the intersection. A parked bus and a wrecked limo. And a swarm of police officers in the street, guns drawn, facing the other direction.
Georgiev, a Macedonian national who has spent much of his life covering wars, went into gung-ho mode. He took a right — toward the lake — on Race Street. Then left at the next block, St. Thomas Street. Then left again on Richard. And suddenly, we were right in the middle of chaos.
We saw a man, clad in a white T-shirt, down on the pavement, hands behind his back, not moving. We were both sure he was dead. A lot of agitated police officers hovered around.
It seemed no one noticed, though we were less than 50 feet away. Georgiev shot off a few frames, then started to drive away. As he passed through the intersection, the cops yelled at us to stop. Some had their guns raised. I shouted to stop, and Georgiev did, not as quickly as I would have.
A few cops rushed over and stuck their guns in our faces. I said I worked for the Picayune. I was told to shut up and get out.
They threw us up against a cinderblock wall and frisked us. There was a lot of cursing, and one of the officers mentioned a shootout.
One of the cops grabbed the notebook out of my shorts. They also snatched one of Georgiev’s cameras.
Lying in the weeds
A few months ago, I reached out to Georgiev, who lives in Macedonia, and he sent me two photos of the incident. A closer look at them reveals that there seem to be two guys on the ground, not one. Georgiev’s second shot shows a human form in the street, next to one of the police cars, wearing a red shirt and hidden behind weeds.
As it happens, the existence of a second person squares with the only official account of the incident I’ve been able to get thus far. That account came from Anthony Cannatella, a semiretired deputy chief with 42 years on the force who during Katrina was the commander of the 6th District, where the incident happened.
Cannatella — to his credit, one of the only officers who will talk about any of this — was one of the cops who responded, though I didn’t see him that day. As Katrina descended, Cannatella says he told “his guys” this: “We’re gonna do basic police work until someone comes and relieves us.”
Read the rest of the article here. There are federal grand juries investigating the actions of the NOLA PD after Katrina. How they shot first and never asked questions later. In my heart, I know there were police officers that did the right thing..just as there are police officers who did not. How anyone will be able to separate them, years later, is the $50,000.00 question.
But you really can’t put a price on a human life.
The government will most likely appeal this ruling. From the NPR link:
A federal judge in New Orleans has ruled the U.S. government owes damages to residents whose homes were swamped by Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters in 2005.
In a sometimes scathing critique of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval found “monumental negligence” in the operation and maintenance of a shipping channel called the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.
He rejected the government’s argument that the Corps was immune from liability and had properly maintained the navigation channel, known locally as MRGO.
Flood victims had sued, arguing the widening of the channel and subsequent loss of protective wetlands turned MRGO into a speedway for Katrina’s storm surge. Judge Duval blamed government engineers for letting the shipping channel “run amok.”
Duval awarded damages of about $720,000 to four people and a business. The case has been closely watched by other Katrina victims seeking compensation from the government.
Three cheers for this judge. The ruling might not stand but he did the right thing anyway regardless of how the higher federal courts rule.
The gulf coast still has not recovered. The people of the gulf coast still have not recovered.
The Big O says he will go to NOLA sometime this year. He marked the anniversary by talking briefly about the horror of Katrina on his weekly address. He mentioned how his administration is trying to retool the programs that were designed to help the survivors of Katrina. Eleven members of his administration have gone to the region.
He then changed the subject and talked about the H1N1 flu virus.
The vast majority of the missing and presumed dead are African-American.
We should never forget the ravages of the gulf coast and what it did to the people of the region after Katrina hit land. We can never let it happen again folks..no matter what it takes..we can never let any part of our citizenry go through what the folks of NOLA experienced with regard to our government’s actions and handling of the crisis.