|Photo Gallery: On the scene in New Orleans - More than 90 still images taken by Executive Producer Marvin Tarver after arriving in New Orleans with reporter Preston Rudie and photojournalist Beth Weber. The pictures show the devastation Katrina left, the relief efforts underway by the government, and of course, the victims who still remain in the Crescent City.|
Sunday, 9/4/2005 12:57 am
New Orleans, Louisiana - There’s a state police checkpoint outside of town turning away everyone except those involved in the recovery effort. We’ve tucked our vehicle into the stream of utility trucks, police and medical units headed into the city. The officer takes a quick glance at our credentials, tells us to be careful and asks us to keep our doors and windows locked.
Five minutes later we run into a line of buses parked on the shoulder of the highway. Up ahead there’s a crowd of several hundred evacuees waiting on what they hope will be a ride to a shelter outside of town. They’re standing in a sea of trash. Cots are strewn everywhere. The ground is littered with food wrappers, water bottles, clothes, suitcases and children’s toys. Family pets are running loose, left behind by owners who couldn’t board buses with animals.
In the center of this highway, local doctors have set up a triage area. Six days in the heat, with little food or water have taken their toll. Local doctors and EMT’s are running a triage unit in the middle of the interstate. Evacuees with medical problems are shuttled to cots under an interstate overpass for treatment and then onto helicopters that are landing every few minutes.
As bad as this was, it did little to prepare us for the scene outside the convention center.
Hundreds of people are sitting outside in chairs, waiting on their chance to leave. Trash, debris and waste are scattered all over the sidewalk. Some families have blankets spread out in the middle of it. Inside the convention center, it’s much worse. There’s urine on the floor, blankets, food wrappers and clothes. People tell us there have been shootings and assaults at night.
Many of these people were rescued off their rooftops with only the clothes on their backs. They’re angry and frustrated that it’s taken so long for help to arrive.
The convention center is also being used as an evacuation station for the elderly and sick. It’s hard to watch as hurricane battered, elderly residents are wheeled to the helicopter landing pad. There are so few wheelchairs, that are bringing them in anything with wheels. We saw sick, elderly evacuees rolling by in restaurant serving carts or sitting in grocery carts. New Orleans paramedics are working the long lines- listening to heartbeats, taking pulses and checking evacuees. We’re not immune either, a paramedic checked us for signs of heat exhaustion. We’re ok but she told us we’ll need antibiotics when we get home to Florida. The city is so unsanitary that the risk of infection is large.
Marvin Tarver, Executive Producer, Tampa Bay's 10