9/12/2005

Workbench: Dying of Thirst in New Orleans


If anger isn't the proper response to babies dying for lack of water in the U.S., I don't know what is.

As thousands of evacuees languished in the New Orleans Convention Center for four days, only one authority came to reassure them, according to NBC photographer Tony Zumbado:

I went back with Harry Connick Jr. He spoke to them and told them he would do anything he can to help them. They seemed to appreciate that. He's the only person of authority -- believe it or not, a musician -- to go in there and tell them that things are going to be ok.

Connick's upholding a fine tradition of entertainers keeping their heads in disaster, following the legendary Titanic Band and Robin Boltman, the magician who stayed on the sinking cruise ship Oceanos after the captain and crew left for the lifeboats.

Zumbado told NBC Nightly News he saw things so horrific inside the center he wouldn't film them, knowing the network wouldn't broadcast the footage. They found unbelievable stench from human waste and numerous dead bodies, including two babies who had died of dehydration and a teen dead in a freezer, her throat slashed after a rape.

Harry Connick and a journalist were able to get from Baton Rouge to these 15,000 desperate people, as he described on the Today Show. Until late night Thursday, when food and water was brought for the first time since the storm, no one else could manage it.

Connick:

It's easy to get to the convention center, we got there with no problem ... how hard is it to take a truck with water or food for these people? I don't understand. They told these people to go to the convention center for help and it's been five days. It's unbearable

There's a backlash against anyone who expresses anger about this disaster, as if it's just political gamesmanship to angle for the congressional mid-term elections next year. If anger isn't the proper response to babies dying for lack of water in the U.S., I don't know what is.
Workbench: Dying of Thirst in New Orleans

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