The Crux of the Biscuit


August 05
Crux of the Biscuit emerged fully formed on Jan 5 2009. The Crux primarily discusses music, makes fun of music, and celebrates music. The Crux also reserves the right to discuss movies, books, and other aspects of pop culture. And if you don't know what the crux of the biscuit is please, for the sake of humanity, educate yourself. Or look for the answer on my banner.


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AUGUST 28, 2009 3:46AM

Hurricane Katrina: After the Flood (pictures and memories)

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I remember I kept stopping at the stop signs.

Driving through New Orleans a week after Hurricane Katrina was like driving through the ruins of civilization. Although there was no traffic, save for the occasional military vehicle and the odd news van, for some reason I kept stopping at all the stop signs. “Sergeant,” my platoon leader said from the passenger seat of the Hummvee, “quit stopping at all the stop signs. There’s nobody here. Also, you really don’t need to use the turn signal either.”


                                                  Ghost town: Lower 9th            



 Here is me driving into New Orleans 9/6/05. The smell of decay and death was overpowering.  


                                       Outside New Orleans  Sept. 2005

I’ve tried to write about my experiences in New Orleans during the aftermath of Katrina before. Each time I fail, giving up after only a couple of sentences. The tragedy on the gulf coast was so epic and so widespread that my narrow experience feels insufficient and frankly insignificant. There’s nothing I can say about Katrina that hasn’t already been said.

But I think about New Orleans sometimes. I think about the city and the people I met. I think about the devastation, the awful fetid smell of rotted  food, dead and decaying pets, and sadly, dead and decaying people. I think about the generosity and spirit of many in the New Orleans area. I also think of the ugliness I saw particularly in the sheriff and his deputies in Gretna. Mostly, I think about how late we were, how arriving in New Orleans a week after the levees broke was like arriving at a brutal crime scene long after the crime.

All I can offer are a few general thoughts and some badly taken pictures. To the people of New Orleans, and all of the Gulf Coast, I’m sorry. We should have done more. I should have done more. I am haunted by the memories of New Orleans.  



                                                     Note the water line


                                The pier is on the other side of the road

“If it keep on rainin’, the levee gonna break” –Led Zeppelin

Within 60 hours of getting the call on 31 August 2005, C Troop 2/104th Cavalry arrived from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania to the outskirts of New Orleans .There was some confusion about what our mission was as we unloaded our gear in the sweltering heat on the grassy air field just outside Slidell, LA. Three hours after arriving we were ordered north to Alexandria where we sat around playing with ourselves for 3 more days until the powers that be figured out what was going on.

Who was in charge here? As it turns out, no one was. We were troops without a leader.


                                        C Troop 2/104th outside Slidell, LA.

“Crash on the levee mama, water gonna overflow.” –Bob Dylan

Eventually, we took up residence in Jefferson, LA at the Riverdale High School a couple of miles west of New Orleans.

One of our missions was to set up food, water, and ice distribution points (PODs as they were called). We operated a huge one in a SAM’s Club parking lot. Thousands of cars came through over the next couple of weeks.


                            Riverdale High School. Home sweet home. 






 The commander on the horn on the left. Thats the First Sergeant making plans in the center. 

Driving through floodwaters on the north side of New Orleans. The smell was particularly bad in this neighborhood. FEMA had not yet checked all the houses in this area.                    


                                                      Into the floodwaters




                                                 Note the waterline


                         This area had not been searched by FEMA yet

Port Sulphur: The Disappeared

Occasionally we would recon the surrounding area. There were areas that FEMA had not yet entered. A friend of mine had sadly told me about the devastation he’d seen driving through Chalmette with his squad. The next day, I was to take my squad southwest into the town of Port Sulphur

I had never seen destruction like I had seen in Port Sulphur. The town was gone, wiped off the face of the earth. The devastation was made even more surreal and horrific in the bright, cheery September sunshine. The only signs of life we encountered were two FEMA vans and a helicopter. We were helpless pilgrims traversing a phantasmagoric nightmare landscape in the bright, unforgiving sun.




                  Note the mini-van under the rightcorner of the house




                                      The town of Port Sulphur is gone


         The foundation of this house is about 100 ft back off the road

Gretna: Anger and hate across the bridge.

We set up a POD in Gretna. The sheriff and his deputies bragged about keeping “the darkies” from crossing the bridge. Perhaps you read about this. This was shocking to even the most back-woods Pennsylvania yahoo. I had a fantasy about butt-stroking the Gretna sheriff in the face with my rifle.  The Sheriff and his deputies stood around laughing and grab-assing while my troopers worked for hours in the 100 degree heat. I took few pictures. I became increasingly depressed and angry while we were there. I hated Gretna. And I hate the bitterness that remains.


 Gretna. On the right you can see the police car. No respect for the police of Gretna.  I hated that place.               



Make way for the press

The Media was everywhere. Hell, 2nd platoon even got to meet R. Lee Ermey and his camera crew from the History Channel (he's famous from the film Full Metal Jacket). I almost t-boned a CNN van driving through the 9th ward one day. Fucking Anderson Cooper. And NBC news  showed up at one of our distribution points one day. “Sergeant, we’d like to ask you a few questions.” I had no interest in talking to the press, so I pointed them out to my unit commander. They interviewed him and shot some footage of us handing out food and water. I wondered if they heard about the sheriff in Gretna and what he did to the people on the bridge….


                                          NBC talking to the commander



My New Orleans

We spent about a month in New Orleans. Prior to Katrina, I had been intrigued by the mystique and history of The Crescent City; the home of the music I love: Dixieland, jazz, and the blues. The strange and wonderful amalgam of disparate cultures and people is a micro-chasm of the American melting pot, the reality of the city the representation of the American dream. 

Outside of the time I spent in Europe, Asia, and Africa while I was in the Navy, I’ve spent most of my life in the northeast. But the time I spent in New Orleans during those few weeks in September 2005 forged a bond between myself and the city. New Orleans will always be in my heart and will always be special to me. I hope one day we can get together under better circumstances.


                                   Drivin' through the French Quarter


  Bourbon Street. Those are troops walking right/center. News people on the extreme left. 


  A house on Esplanade Street. The words  on the board read "Fuck Blanco, Fuck FEMA--We've gone to Texas" 

A memory I hold onto from my time in New Orleans is of the day we were driving through the French Quarter. Although the city was virtually deserted we happened to drive by a bar that was open. It was a tiny miracle. As we passed the side street bar, a drunken patron stumbled onto the sidewalk. Dressed only in a pair of grungy shorts the wild-haired and wild-eyed denizen raised two beers in the air and shouted, “Ahyoooooooo!” There was something defiant, true, and distinctly American about this crazy man. I wish we could have stopped and had a few rounds with this fellow (my squad practically begged me to stop). We drove by and cheered.

Here’s to you wild man of the Quarter. When we meet again, drinks are on me.

                      me in LA

       Me in the back of a hummvee Sept. 2005.  Twilight on the bayou.  


And here's the great Preservation Hall Jazz Band playing the Basin Street Blues>

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What a great Post!! Being there, seeing things and not being able to do something must have been frustrating as hell. Those police officers should have been charged at least with negligent manslaughter. The bridge fiasco still gives me the creeps. Thanks for a great story.
I loved this MJ. I think your "Bourbon St." pic is Canal street though.
"New Orleans will always be in my heart and will always be special to me. "
MJ it's amazing to me how many people (myself included) feel exactly that way after experiencing Nawlins. I arrived later than you Jan 2 2006; not to volunteer but to work, and ended up staying til May 2007. I had first been there in the 80's several times and when I saw Katrina coming I held my breath for NOLA. As we all know the worst case scenario unfolded in front of all our eyes. I was heartbroken.
Man I have pictures and stories galore. Might have to break some out. Thanks Mr. Wycha.
That's you???? Holy shit.

Hey, this was absolutely fantastic. What a miserable disgrace. We should all be ashamed. Where was the fucking President of The United States??

Great, great post, MJ.
You should not feel as though you didn't do enough, instead realize that you did a lot. Thanks for the post.
Monumental post and finally one place where it belongs...
My late sister-in-law was a Federal Marshal at the time of Katrina and one of the heads of Homeland Security in that region. I remember the last time she and I spoke face to face, she told me a little about the experiences that she had right on the coast line in Mississippi and Louisiana where the the winds were their most ferocious and the storm surge the highest that she could never forget the stench in the air and that the water lines in the trees were as high as 30 feet.

She also told me of some of the bodies they found in trees. Way up in trees where the water had taken them. Katrina needs to be to America as seminal of event as any other. It's not only the storm but the failure of our Government to help more than it did.

Outside of the people like you and my SIL, help was too slow and the damage done to psyches were irreparable. Kudos to you for being there and helping. Thanks for this reminder that never needs to leave our conscious mind.

We had an ice storm in Arkansas that devastated our community earlier this year (nothing that even compared to Katrina.) It was a real eye opener. No electricity. Blocked roads. Some people took shelter, sitting around waiting it out and some grapped chainsaws and began cutting (the broken trees) their way to their nearest or oldest neighbor.
I'm speechless. Thank you, thank you so much.
Nice, nice, nicely done post. Well done. Muchly appreciated.
As a resident of New Orleans THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I returned to my home in Mid-City six weeks after the storm. I was very very lucky--I lived on the second floor of a building on pilings. We only got about 6 inches of floodwater on the first floor. For the first week or so, I was the only person save my landlords within a 10 block radius. No gas for heat, no telephone service, erratic water and electricity for months following. To get any sort of groceries or supplies, I put on my backpack and hiked down Esplanade past all the rotting fridges to the A&P two miles away in the Quarter, then unloaded the groceries, put the laptop back in the bag, and hiked back to Cafe Envie to sit on the floor with 300 other people using one of the few wireless connections in the city that sometimes worked. Finding a Phillips screwdriver to put the door handles on my new fridge was a three-week long quest--as makes sense, any kind of repair tool was in short supply, and without working phone lines, you couldn't call the stores to ask if they had something in stock. I finally found ONE in a Vietnamese mini-mart WAAAAAAYYY out in the swamps on the Westbank.

And everywhere, the smell.

Thank you so much again for what you did.
This is a great post MJ, so thanks for taking the time to do it.
A New Orleans musician few know about, whom you would likely enjoy has an eponymous website. I met and spent time with Spencer Bohren a couple months after he lost much of his wordly possessions in Katrina. His music, personal stories and take on how it all came down were eye opening.
Your post as well.
my first time here, well m speechless too - but after I had seen some pictures and read the first few paras went and deleted a nasty comment I had written about mycity and its flu epidemic being retribution -
you appear to be a nice human, good influence, thx for the pictures, an EP I appreciate whole heartedly
Thank you for this. I was there 100 days after the storm and I've gone back five times since as a volunteer. I realized after reading your post that I still haven't put to rest my anger and frustration over the response to Katrina. You bear no responsibilty for the incompetence of those in charge. You are to be applauded for what you did and what you're still doing by sharing with us. This story needs to be told, the hope being the tragedy that was the aftermath of the storm--the indifference to human suffering--won't happen again.
I've read and watched an infinite number of Katrina stories and documentaries, but there was something special about this. Thank you for your service -- and thank you for posting about your experience.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Powerful, powerful images and writing. Thank you for what you did.
MJ - Thanks for writing this post and sharing your pictures. My family and I evacuated from New Orleans four years ago today (8/28) and came back about five later. Our pre-k home had been in Lakeview (what you call north new orleans) about 1/2 mile from the 17th St. canal breach. The water was 13 feet deep at the curb. We lost except for what we took with us. Your post captures accurrately the chaos and surreality of post-k New Orleans. I've tried on several occassions to write about my katrina experiences but its still too close in time for me. I'm glad you've shared your memories and pictures, though. While most Americans saw the images few appreciate the real scope of the devastation. Thanks for coming down here and helping. I don't know where this city would be if not for the generous assistance of people like you.
The company I worked for sent down a small crew to oversee safety/health of the cleanup crews. They arrived 2 weeks after the storm and stayed for nearly six months - the cleanup crews were still finding bodies and remains at that time. I couldn't believe the photos they brought back, nor the stories. They, too, witnessed some of the ugliest and most despicable law enforcement organizations - they quickly learned to steer clear of anyone not in camo. Its no wonder that so many recovery efforts felt like drops in the bucket - the "bucket" had no bottom.

What an incredible piece. Dugg, Reddit'd, Facebooked ... what else can I do with this ... I'll think of something.

I was in the hospital having babies from 9/1 - 9/7/05. I was glued to CNN the entire time. What a tragic, tragic time for America. Fortunately, you ... YOU were there ... helping, working, bringing that special thing you have to the overwhelming disorder. In case you don't hear it enough ~ Thank you. Thank you so much. xo
I was just thinking about Katrina yesterday. With a sense of utter futility and despair at how easily such tragedy passes through the media filter and then is gone. That episode remains the greatest grudge I hold against George Bush, him personally. I have never blamed him for its cause or even for failing to mitigate its damage. It's his nonchalance in the face of such suffering that remains crystalline in my mind, and the pictures--however amateur--always bring instant tears. I know just what you mean when you say you find it difficult to write about. I feel that way about the things I suffer most deeply; it's as though putting words on a page diminishes the enormity of it. Thanks so much for your effort. It's all anybody can do.
Wow, MJ. Just "wow".
Your effort there IS appreciated.
Oh, MJ...what an incredibly frustrating, sad, moving experience.

We went to New Orleans in December of 2004 for our honeymoon. My Irish husband had never been to the American southland. This was my gift to him. We were there for New Year's eve and had a bloody marvelous time...and while we sat in our hotel room during that week, we watched on TV as the horrible tsunami hit South Asia. Watching those devastating pictures, we couldn't have imagined that the tragedy would come home to us just 8 months later.

My students raised money for school supplies and kids who needed the basics. Several teachers flew down and helped set up classrooms and clean the schools.

It is sad that the government responded so slowly and even more gut-wrenching to read about Gretna...but you did the best you all could do with so little leadership and so little action by the powers that be. It was good you guys were there.
We were on the Harley (in California) & stopped at a bar where the t.v. was on and people were watching the Katrina news on Fox where, naturally, all the talk was of looting & murder & playing up the race card. The moron next to me, seeing video of despairing & angry people making their way along the highway said, "Look at them walking around like that, why don't they go somewhere." I turned to him & said, "And where are they supposed to go?" He couldn't grasp that there weren't lovely shelters with food & water & bathrooms for everyone. By dehumanizing the victims, by turning them into "those people" he didn't have to acknowledge the horror of the event or our government's massive failure in dealing with it.

Thanks for putting this all together & for sharing your experience. I believe people like yourself did make a positive difference, and New Orleans DOES stay in your heart.
Thanks to all for the nice comments. I won't be able to respond to all of the comments, so I hope a blanket thanks will suffice.

Hurricane Katrina was such a systemic failure and there is so much blame to go around. I wonder if lessons have been learned. You can't just send down thousands of troops to a disaster zone without a proper chain of command. That was the biggest mistake I saw. We would have been able to get into the city at least 4 days earlier if there was proper leadership.
It wasn't until General Honore took over from the idiots at FEMA that things got done. The civilian government agencies seemed to be afraid to act, perhaps out of political concerns. The military generally does not have these concerns.
I lived in New Orleans in the late 70's on St Charles Street and in Metarie, enjoyed beignet and coffee in the French Quarter and basically fell in love with the city. As we watched in horror while neither state or federal government went into action I was ashamed of our country. When you talk about the situation in Gretna I think of earlier today when I listened to Dr King's "I Have A Dream" speech. Some people in this country still have a long way to go and are probably not willing to even try.

Thank you for what you did, for bearing the memories and for sharing them with us.
You should check out, if you have not, Randy Newman's Louisiana, which says it all (this is a condensed version):

"Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangelne

Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away

President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand
The President say,
'Little fat man, isn't it a shame what the river has
done to this poor cracker's land.'"


The thing is, it's all about the money. In New Orleans proper, they liked to say it was all about the 'darkies', as our fine human representative from Gretna calls them. The black people were touted and held up as looters and criminals and the Fear held back the salvation just outside the door.

But that was a lie. It's really all about the money. You think if this happened anywhere else it would have and would still be the debacle it is?

Back in 1926, the rain started upriver and didn't stop. By 1927, the river had breeched all the way up into Kansas, Illinois, Tennessee. By May, the river (the River) at Memphis was 60 miles wide. Think about that.

North of New Orleans tons of dynamite were set off, saving New Orleans, but destroying the lives of those in between. It's all about the money. 700,000 people were displaced, nearly half of which were African Americans. Internment camps were set up - over 150 of them. Over 13,000 evacuees were taken to or made their way to a high levee in Greenville, MS (a place I lived for a short time), where they stayed on that levee for Days, no food or water, while boats came and evacuated women and children (whites only).

This tragedy took years to resolve itself - some say it never did, it just changed the landscape. Many, many black people flew north - landing in Detroit, Chicago, New York, Atlanta. Much music was written and played. A new era of blues was born.

When the Katrina happened, I sat in my living room every night, glued to the t.v. I lived there in '86/'87; had last visited in Feb., '05. It's like a "home" city to me. I love New Orleans. I heard Randy Newman's song again at a benefit, and realized how apt it was. It's on my desktop. I play it a couple three times a month, door closed, so I can let out some tears.

But don't let anyone tell you any different:

It's all about the money.

Thank you for your help, thank you for the story, thank you for the pictures.

There's several versions on Youtube, but this is my favorite:

"What has happened down here is the wind has changed...."


"... they're tryin' to wash us away...."

a moving remembrance. thank you for sharing your experience and your photos.
I was just in New Orleans this week - I go there about once a month for work, since last October. I can't get my head around what must have happened to the city - seeing pictures of areas I drive through underwater, and which require not much close inspection to see where houses and businesses remain wrecked is disturbing every time... or at least was until a group of us had lunch at Rocky and Carlo's in Chalmette (which feels damn close to being below sea level, a sensation I haven't had since I was a kid visiting the southern coast of Holland) and drove back past the fringe of the lower 9th and east New Orleans generally.

ConnieMack, I hadn't heard of the deliberate flooding of St Bernard's Parish (and beyond) in the 20s until we were driving through Chalmette, I wish I could say it was shocking, but it seems like the product of an era when direct action was acceptable as opposed to letting inertia and neglect do the job.

Thanks for this MJ, and serving there. Rec'd.
Sorry, just update a comment failure - the sight of individually broken buildings was disturbing until I saw what's left of the really hammered neighborhoods. My baseline for being appalled was changed.
this is a great post, MJ, raw, unprocessed, immediate, visceral, the vignette of the drunk on Bourbon Street is priceless, I'd say you've got material for a really gripping memoir, I know I for one would like to hear in more detail about your experiences there
I have heard of black men the Gretna police shot in the back, including one who had saved countless lives.

The most poignant visual to me of Katrina was the makeshift tomb "Here lies Vera. God help us." I still feel rage for N.O. and unusual rage against "Heck of a job, Brownie" and our absent president. It shouldn't have happened here but it did.

Yours is the first account I read from a rescuer. Thank you for this.

The ironic thing is, after 1927, after the worst natural disaster in American history, "they" enacted The Flood Control Act of 1928 - authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct the levees to protect our waterways - not just the Mighty Mississippi, but all the way over near here to the Delta near Sacramento.

Fat lot of good it did.

Corpsman: Well, it needs to be 10x high, 12x deep, with release valve throughway thingies at A., B., C., D., E. - along here (indicating on the map).

Washington: Well, Corpsman, we will give you enough money to make it 6x high, 8x deep, and let's just cut out two or three of those release valves throughway thingies. It'll be fine! Haven't seen a flood like that in 150 years!
A hard post to read and so important to read and never ever forget. It sounds like it was difficult for you to write this, and I can understand why, but I appreciate you taking the time and care.
M, after reading a few posts, and doing some reading on Mother Earth, I came across this article. I thought maybe you'd like to read it. If not, thanks again!!
Great post and photographs! Seeing the destruction brings back many memories of that catastrophic disaster.

- rated
Wow! Amazing! Can't imagine! Great photos and video also. Thank you!
Eloquent, MJ. You did good.
Damn, man - that leaves a mark. Great post, quietly told, as befits such a tragedy.
very touching, excellent post. thank you for sharing MJ.
An excellent post - thank you for this journey - what a kaleidoscope of heart and soul in prose and pics.

It's hard to fight the feelings of helplessness when you are witness to a natural disaster of epic proportions. It's impossible to explain or describe and impossible to not be changed by the event.
Wow, this is the best post I've seen on OS since I started reading this site a year ago. I used to live in New Orleans and still have family members there. Seeing your photos meant a lot to me. Thank you for all of your service during this enormous tragedy.
Ditto everything they all said about the quality and importance of this post!

I lived in S Florida when Andrew hit - in Ft Lauderdale I was spared the worst of it by far. About a week after the storm, I was driving home from a job 3 hours north, and I came upon a convoy of military driving south on the 2 lane Turnpike. It seemed to go on for miles. We all drove by on the right. I will never forget the feeling of utter relief that FINALLY "the calvary was coming" to the aid of the 10.000s of suffering homeless people of southern Dade County. I honked and waved and yelled "THANK YOU" out my driver's side window to each and every truck cab.

I thought we would have learned from Andrew how to get help to the afflicted FASTER. The deadly slow response to Katrina was mind-boggling. the chaos and disorganization you describe even more so.

THANK YOU for being there, and for chronicling it all for us here.
Top notch blog! Rated with fervor.
This is one of the most moving pieces on Katrina that I have read.

I worked in Gretna for several years. Let's just say that the police department was "representative.
I'm back.

Had to say - I really love when you write like this. I always luagh at humor pieces and your other work, but this one, and the one I read on Memorial Day.... really good work. You said you'd tried to write about this before and couldn't, and yes sometimes these stories really need time to sit within us. When the story and the writer are ready, it works. And it really does here.

And also, I wish you didn't feel you have to say you're sorry. You did so much, gave so much, and cared so much. I wish you could feel proud of all you did. You are a good, good man.
Wow, that was quite a stirring journey. You made it feel like it was happening all over again and I was there. Thank you for being there.
The "Here Lies Vera" sign and body was on the corner where I used to wait for my bus to the Quarter for work 4 days a week as a waitress at Poppy's. I left NOLA in 2001, but the city never left my heart or my psyche.

I think there is something about the Crescent City that takes a hold of you, romances you and intrigues you, disappoints a little but always titilates.

I also think the house on Esplanade looks just like the house my friends lived in - and that message rings true to their voice.

I haven't been back to the city post-Katrina. Much like visiting a loved one in the hospital, I'm afraid to confront the reality.

Thank you for serving your country and New Orleans. And thank you for writing about this.
Thank you for your service and for sharing your photos and memories. This is so important to share.
Wow, MJwycha! This post is spellbinding!!! Your photos and experience with New Orleans and post Katrina are unbelievable! I will go back and reread this outstanding account of the nightmare you saw and smelled in the post fury of this unprecidented storm.
Thanks for posting this. I was in New Orleans last week for the first time since the storm. The places I was were fine on the surface, but it feels different somehow. When the storm hit, I was home with a small child, watching helplessly on TV. Thanks for being there and doing what you did.
Wonderful post. Can't believe you got there and had to sit for three days before being given duties to perform. Glad you got around posting this. I can understand your apprehension over the years. But it's a story that needs telling and I'm grateful you decided to share it.
Again, thanks for the nice comments all. I especially liked the personal stories people left. Everyone who was a part of the tragedy has a unique story to tell. The stories shared here kind of flesh out my own. Thanks all.
Thanks for sharing these. I used to live in New Orleans (pre-Katrina). What happened to my city makes my heart ache, but at the same time I - okay enjoy isn't the right word but appreciate pictures like these. What happened there is something we should all see and remember.
Let me say first that I appreciate all you've done for us here in South Louisiana. However, I am a livelong resident of Gretna, and I think you should do more research before you make assumptions.;photovideo

This video is another side of the story.

Additionally, there were many other factors going on in the city that you did not mention. Like the fact that at the time reports had come in that barges were ramming into the westbank levee, and city administrators were afraid we would soon have our own leaks, or that Gretna Police accepted and evacuated over 1000 of people who had come over the bridge prior to that group and had run out of bus drivers, or that the officer who fired the shot, which was a warning shot into the air, was not only black himself, but he fired that shot because the crowd had started to yell, "c'mon we can take them."

Another fact is that the Oakwood Mall, which is located at the base of that bridge, was on fire. Also, the person who said it was racial, was an out of town visitor who gave an opinion. An incorrect one.

At this time, several New Orleans police officers are under indictment or have pled guilty to crimes, including murder, during the aftermath of the storm. No one was killed in Gretna, no businesses were looted, and certainly no officer "shot anyone in the back."

I am truly sorry you had a bad experience with some Gretna officers while you were trying to help. But you should certainly investigate the other side of the story before you give a bunch of strangers reading this blog the wrong idea.

There are races of all kinds living in Gretna, and there are Gretna police officers of all races. Many in high managerial and supervisory positions. I count a few of them as aquaintances.

You are wrong about Gretna and it's officers, and you are judging based on one bad experience and false rumors. The Gretna Police Department kept me, and my black neighbors, safe during the aftermath of Katrina, and I love them for it.
She also told me of some of the bodies they found in trees. Way up in trees where the water had taken them. Katrina needs to be to America as seminal of event as any other. It's not only the storm but the failure of our Government to help more than it did.

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Excerpt from The Beatitudes: A Pinch and Scrimp Adventure by Lyn LeJeune, in both Kindle and book. A book for and about New Orleans (proceeds go to The New Orleans Public Library Foundation)

She had grown up in a New Orleans housing project shamefully named Desire. Desire had been constructed in an isolated area northwest of greater New Orleans, bordered by industrial canals and railroad tracks. Pinch often recounted her nights as a young child lying on the floor under a matted blanket listening to gunshots in the night. Desire had been built in the late 40s over the Hideaway Club where Fats Domino had played his first gigs. Pinch swore she could hear Fats sing “My Blue Heaven” just for her. As Pinch’s childhood tumbled forward, she learned survival skills. By the age of twelve, she had tried just about every street drug going and stole to keep from going hungry, acquiring the nickname Pinch. She would have been doomed to a child’s death but for the help of an aged aunt. Pinch pulled herself up, finished high school, and made it through college by working sometimes two shifts as a housekeeper in seedy hotels that bordered the Ninth Ward. A city auditor once asked her why she hadn’t worked in the Lafayette Square District or the famous 625 St. Charles suites. “You could have paid for a Ph.D. with the tips alone.” And she replied: “Well, I guess ‘dis sista just feeling mo’ secure wid da brothers. Ozanam Inn be my place, homeless peoples and all.” Then she rubbed his arm. The poor guy broke out in a sweat, brushed his thinning hair back with an aged-spotted trembling hand, and looked at me for intervention. Later I asked Pinch why she’d stuck it to the auditor; she shrugged her shoulders and replied: “I guess just every once and a while I have to remind myself where I come from. Pride has many forms, love.” Pinch had overcome. She was the bravest person I ever knew.

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