Thursday, September 08, 2005


More stories from inside New Orleans

From Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, ‘We’ve been through pure hell’:
When offered a bottle of water, Kenyatta Porter didn’t even want to look at it. "Gatorade, something, I don’t want any water," she said.

Porter spent many days looking at water — the water from Hurricane Katrina that flooded her home chest deep; water that quickly turned into a pool of chemicals, oil and bodies. "I saw a 7-day-old baby floating in the water," Porter said. "In the past seven days, we’ve been through pure hell,"

Bell and Porter were in their east New Orleans homes when Katrina hit. After the flooding, they were stuck in their homes for three days before being rescued and taken to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

But a safe haven was nowhere to be found, and instead, many people at the convention center turned into predators. "They killed children; they slit little girls’ throats," Porter said.

Bell expressed frustration with President George Bush about what she described as a much-delayed response from the federal government. "You’re sending people away (to other countries), and you can’t even take care of your own goddamned country," Bell said.

Cedric Jones, 17, isn’t as upset with Bush. Instead, he blames those who refused to let the entire story out to the public. "Bush doesn’t know what’s going on until somebody tells him," Jones said.

For three days, Jones sat on the roof of his house, with no food or water.

He flagged helicopters from the rooftop, but they all passed him by. Jones hitched a ride with a stranger and headed to New Orleans, where he was stopped by police, loaded up in the back of a U-Haul and taken to the convention center.

At least he had the bare necessities back in Slidell. He would have preferred staying on the roof — even after an encounter with a bear. "I went from being a computer geek to a warrior the next day," Jones said.

Once he arrived at the convention center, Jones found bodies, people urinating on the carpet, and others vomiting from the smell.

Jones’ only sustenance was from items looted from stores. "If it weren’t for the people looting, we wouldn’t be alive today," he said.

But many never made it out alive. Jones said one casualty included a man who attempted to stop a rape at the convention center. When the man approached an officer to alert him of the crime, the officer turned around and shot the person reporting the crime, Jones said. "It felt like we were in Iraq or something. (Police) told us, ‘You leave, you get shot.’ We had no choice but to live in that condition."

The convention center was too packed for Willie Rollins, who was taken by National Guard troops to the Harrah’s Casino in downtown New Orleans after several days on the I-10 bypass near the Superdome.

Rollins picked up his best friend, Ernest Bienemy, and headed to the bypass, where other New Orleanians were left stranded. The two friends helped float a group of children to the bypass, and passed a number of dead bodies.

The corpses became so commonplace that — after a while — it was no longer a shock to see them floating in the polluted waters.

Now, he’s seeking the whereabouts of his wife, Yolanda Duncan Rollins, and any of his 14 children.

He never wants to go back to New Orleans to live.

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