Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Tales from inside the Astrodome
10:57 Raw transcript of comments by NOLA evacuee Clara Barthelemy: "The 17th street levee was bombed by the Army Corps of Engineers to save the more valuable real estate in the city… to keep the French Quarter protected, the ninth ward was sacrificed… people are afraid to speak out… everyone who was near there heard the bombings… they bombed seven times. That's why they didn't fix the levees… 20 feet of water. Gators. People dying in water. They let the parishes go, not the city center. Tourist trap was saved over human life. A six year old girl was raped in here.. 9 year old boy killed. A man in the shower beaten. No hot food. No help for elderly."
Another evacuee: "Over 20 rapes per night happening inside this place. They bring in national guard for media purposes. Bush wants us to stay here to raise his ratings. Some workers are stealing the good stuff, like shoes."
11:16: Rough transcript of comments by NOLA evacuee, male: "We are treated like prisoners here. Placed under mandatory curfew. We are citizens!"
11:22 Now I'm speaking to someone else, another woman, who says some people report having witnessed "bomb sounds," believe 17th street levee and others were blown up to manage water flow and protect more valuable portions of real estate.
Evacuee Dianne Stafford: "They blew the levee to save the city…" Saying a barge broke the levee. She is from St. Bernard Parish. "More expensive places were saved at the expense of the neighborhoods that aren't as valuable… Rebuilding Bourbon Street matters more to the government… that's what mattered to Governor Blanco…"
11:36 I'm speaking to a man who's been wearing the exact same pair of 2XL stretch pants since the storm hit. Some clothing is available for evacuees, but he is a large man and can't find anything available to fit his body. He's a diabetic but has good medical care. This so depressing. Its so hard to not cry when you hear this shit. The very large and very old have little help.
11:59 CNN have no problem getting in. Nobody's stopping them from accessing the floor, but other credentialed press who already have press badges are being stopped.
12:09 Evacuees I'm talking to are all telling me about rapes, murders, beatings which are taking place inside the Astrodome.
12:24 Man I'm speaking to, Danny Smith, says he cannot get housing because he has a felony. Aid workers found him a house but he is a felon, so they turned him away. FEMA has agreed to pay for his apartment, but he cannot get one. "Everyone has a felony here," he says. He thinks that people are going to riot
12:29 Evacuee Irvin Skinner: We have a curfew. We're being kept inside after 11pm. Forced to stay inside. They threw guns on everyone. Said 'come inside or your out of here'. Shoved guns, pointed them at adults. I'm a grown man, I have rights. This is an instituion to us, it's like a jail. I'm a middle class man with a home being trated like a criminal because I'm black. If we were white, we wouldn't have this problem."
"We are not here by choice."
13:03 Harris County will not allow any radio station inside without a FEMA form even if operator has FCC permission. Austin Airwaves says trying to get form now, been waiting 2.5 days. No radio station inside the dome until that form is filled out.
Before you dismiss all these reports as wild rumors, remember that reports of deaths and violence inside the New Orleans Superdome and Convention Center were dismissed as "rumor" in early days by authorities before reporters proved them to be true.