New Orleans, of the present

If this account is in any way true, it speaks of neglect and maliciousness that I can hardly fathom.

Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, “Get off the fucking freeway”. A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

These were starving, dehydrated, traumatized people. They had no weapons. They’d been bounced from squalid shelter to blistering asphalt, held at gunpoint, screamed at, refused. And all they wanted was to get out. To do exactly what the authorities were supposed to be there to help them do.

I wasn’t there. This was only one side of the story. But this side is… ghastly. It’s one of several like this, each lending credence to the next. Or each a piece in an incredibly disingenious campaign of misinformation. I don’t know. Perhaps time will tell.

It’s accepted, I think, that what transpired after the hurricane was not sufficient. Slow federal response, inadequate local response. Either or both. One might expect—with devastation this severe—that authorities might occasionally stumble over one another. But these types of reports don’t seem to be about FEMA tripping on NOLA’s toes. It’s about federal forces and local forces actually being at odds. Both systems say they were waiting for the other. Waiting while people drowned in their own houses, baked on their own roofs, and wandered around their swamped town, scared and without direction.

That part’s unsettling, regardless of who is to blame.

To recap: This guy [Bush] came down four days later to mourn Trent Lott’s house… while I Am Sam waded through toxic sludge in a dinghy.

— Jon Stewart

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