Voices from the Storm

Quotes from a week of hell

"The good news there is I'm absolutely convinced everybody at the federal level understands exactly how historic and serious this is from the President in person on down. In particular the lead federal agency for recovery is FEMA. The director of FEMA is here on the ground in Louisiana. Huge amounts of FEMA assets are already pre-positioned in Louisiana. Major FEMA teams are set up here in Louisiana. So they get it, and they're completely prepared to come in for recovery as soon as possible."
' Louisiana Sen. David Vitter of Metairie in an interview with WBRZ TV on Sun. Aug. 28, the day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall

"The city of New Orleans is in a state of devastation. We probably have 80 percent of our city underwater. With some sections of our city, the water is as deep as 20 feet."
' New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, in an interview on WWL as waters began rising in New Orleans, Tuesday, Aug. 30

"The ones who have resigned indicated that they have lost everything and didn't feel it was worth going back to take fire from looters. Violence is bad. We need more help."
' Louisiana Superintendent of State Police Col. Henry Whitehorn on Sept. 2, after reports that New Orleans police officers were turning in their badges amid chaotic violence in the city

"First of all your heart goes out to the people, the loss of their homes, but there are some real tough questions to ask about how you go about rebuilding this city. That is certainly the decision the people of New Orleans are going to make. But I think federal insurance and everything goes along with it, and we ought to take a second look at it. It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed. But you know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake fissures and they rebuild, too. Stubbornness."
' Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert in an interview with Arlington Heights, Ill.'s Daily Herald on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

"I'm afraid I would have assaulted him."
' Former President Bill Clinton, telling The Washington Post how he may have reacted had he been in the same room as House Speaker Dennis Hastert when Hastert questioned the rebuilding of New Orleans

"They tore that dome apart. They tore it down. They're taking everything out of there they can take. I don't want to go to no Astrodome. I've been domed almost to death."
' Janice Singleton, a worker at the Superdome, on WWL. Singleton was stuck in the stadium when the storm hit and said she was robbed of everything she had with her, including her shoes.

"We have been trying to call the mayor's office, we have been trying to call the governor's office ... we have tried to use any inside pressure we can. We are turning to you. Please help us. There is no food in Charity Hospital. They're eating fruit bowl punch, and that's all they've got to eat. There's minimal water."
' Dr. Norman McSwain, chief of trauma surgery at Charity Hospital in a call to the Associated Press Thursday morning, Sept. 2

"The great city of New Orleans will be rebuilt. Out of this tragedy will come a great Gulf Coast."
' President George W. Bush, WWL, New Orleans

"You want to help? Send buses and gas, buses and gas. I don't need $10 million right now ' send buses and gas!"
' State Rep. Karen Carter, WWL

"I am announcing that Jefferson Parish has now seceded from the United States and is now the country of Jeffersonia. Now I know we will receive the aid a foreign country receives."
' Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, WWL

"I do think the nation would be responding differently if they were white elderly and white babies actually dying on the street and being covered with newspapers and shrouds and being left there."
' David Billings of the People's Institute, a New Orleans-based organization focused on ending racism, WWL

"If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?"
' Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on WWL that same day

"I thank the President for his visit today, but it was more show than substance. Frankly, we needed action days ago. Louisianans are starving, dying and fearing for their safety. Police personnel are tired, getting sick and they need tetanus shots. Outside of New Orleans, the influx of military troops is not being felt. When I am able to find food and get it to other areas, there are unnecessary road blocks and bureaucracy every step of the way. How many more lives will be lost before people understand that there are problems here the TV cameras can't see? When the President's travel details stop us from putting the helicopters in the air that will deliver help, we've got problems. When, after an hour and a half of waiting at the instructed location without information to greet the President today in New Orleans, logistical and communications problems prevented me from reaching the meeting ' we've got problems. The poor communication here is indicative of the larger communication problems that are hindering all of the life saving efforts."
' Congressman Charlie Melancon, who represents Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, two of the hardest areas hit by Hurricane Katrina, responding to the federal government's relief efforts on Friday, Sept. 2.