September 1, 2005. The worst of Hurricane Katrina was over – but the horror had just begun. As the storm passed, the devastation was overwhelming – the loss of life hadn’t even begun to be calculated; Mayor Ray Nagin admitted the number would mostly likely reach into the thousands. It was matter of saving the living – those people stranded in their homes, trapped on rooftops, buried under rubble.
And as the minutes passed, the horror grew. Flood waters left devastation everywhere, and help was slow in coming, but a massive rescue operation was underway. The Louisiana Superdome, partly damaged as the Hurricane winds passed over, was being evacuated, and busloads of survivors were being transported to Houston Texas and points west. Amid reports of widespread looting and some false reports of rescuers coming under fire, the process of dropping food and water on those stranded until they could be picked up and transportation out of the area to those who were assembled at The Convention Center or Superdome started to take place.
Rescue teams from as far away as Vancouver Canada were coming into the city to aid in efforts of recovery. But help was still slow – the Red Cross was told to wait 24 hours to set up shelters, as the military was already engaged in rescue efforts. Communication between organizations and relief agencies was hampered and nonexistent. The relief agency FEMA claimed not to have known about the severity of the situation until this day, and were caught largely unprepared.
It was indeed a period of chaos. And meanwhile, thousands were stranded, left homeless or were dying. Dead bodies littered the streets as National Guard troops sought out the living and the stranded. It was a day of frustration and anger and there seemed to be no end in sight.