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Survivors From New Orleans Speak Out About Week of Horror

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We go to Louis Armstrong airport in New Orleans where thousands of hurricane survivors are staying. The airport has become a triage center where the oldest, the youngest and the sickest lay desperate for help. [includes rush transcript]

As residents continue to be evacuated from the city, thousands were brought to the airport which was serving as a giant triage center. Inside the terminal building, the scope of the disaster revealed itself in grim detail. Hundreds lay in stretchers lined along the floors, people slumped in wheelchairs waiting for help. Among those who remained were the oldest, the sickest and the youngest. Those who had waited for days to be evacuated from New Orleans now faced the crisis unfolding at Louis Armstrong airport.

  • Displaced residents speaking on September 3rd.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and John Hamilton went down to New Orleans this weekend. They made their way to New Orleans airport. They spoke with refugee after refugee about their experience.

LIONEL SINGLETON: I’m Lionel Singleton, I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana. I live at 9722 West Wheaton Circle. If my family out there, Lana, Josh, Jasmine, my mama, my brothers, anybody. I’m okay for right now. I’m trying to survive. Please make sure you have your cell phones on or whatever. And when I get to my destination, I’m going to try to call you wherever they bring us at. I’m not really sure exactly where we’re going, Lana. I’m not sure, boo, but I love you all. I’m trying to be strong. You all be strong for me. As soon as I get to where I’m going, I’m going to try to call you, some kind of way. I just wanna tell you, it’s a bad day here in the city of New Orleans. It’s really bad. I didn’t think it was going to turn out to be this way. We’re just trying to get out of here. They’re doing the best they can, but I hope they hurry and do it, because I’m getting tired. I’m really getting tired, Lana. I hope this is over with soon and I’ll be able to see y’all pretty soon.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Where when were you when the hurricane hit?

LIONEL SINGLETON: I was at my house. I was supposed to leave Sunday. I couldn’t leave because the water came up so fast Sunday night. I put a hole in my roof to try to get out. I stayed there for two days. Sunday, and Monday and Tuesday. I stayed there on top of the roof. It was hard. I had swim to shore to the policeman and they had a raft boat to pick me up. We brought it to the Convention Center. We have been over there ever since. So, now today is a new day. Now we’re here. I’m just trying to wait and hold out as long as I can Lana. I want you to know I’m alive. I’m trying to survive for y’all, because I love you all very much. And just tell everybody as soon as I get to a destination I will try to call. I will try to call. Thank you.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: How many days were you at the Convention Center?

LIONEL SINGLETON: Three, three-and-a-half days. Three-and-a-half days.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Can you describe what it was like there?

LIONEL SINGLETON: Scary. No lights. No bathroom to use. No water. Sleeping on the ground, sleeping in the — inside the Convention Center. It was scary the whole three nights I been there; it was real scary. I feel a little safe now because the police are out. The guards are out. But I’m still not — I’m still not — I still don’t feel safe until I see somebody from my family, somebody. Thank you.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: How were you brought here?

LIONEL SINGLETON: We were brought here by a helicopter, the Marines. The United States Marines helicopter brought us to the airport. So, now we have to wait here to find out what’s going on. But another thing: everything in New Orleans is gone. We don’t have nothing in New Orleans left. Everything is underwater. No lights. No air conditioning. I mean, everything is gone. We lost everything, Lana. I want you to know, babe. We lost everything. Everything. The house, my truck. Everything. Dusty is still in the attic. I don’t know, I hope he survives. I couldn’t bring him with me. Dusty is in the attic. I wanted to tell you all, it’s a sad day in New Orleans. Sad day. Thank you.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Do you know what’s going to happen to you now?

LIONEL SINGLETON: No. I don’t know. I’m going with the flow now. I don’t know exactly what’s going on. I’m going with the flow. I just pray to God that everything works out all right. And that’s all I have right now is faith. All I have is faith. So, I just ask the Lord to take care of me and these people out here because we really need it. I see you soon, Boo, because I love you very much. I miss you. I want you to know that. I miss my family. Thank you.

PATRICIA HOLMES: My name is Patricia Holmes. Our apartment building was flooded up to the first floor in the lobby. We were safe — we were out on the fourth floor, but after the generators went out, they had to evacuate us, too.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: How long were you there for?

PATRICIA HOLMES: Well, we were there until Thursday night. We was at my apartment building until Thursday night. Thursday night, they taking us out, in a 18-wheeler, and brought us to the convention center, and now it’s one o’clock Saturday, and they bringing us here to the New Orleans International Airport.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: What was it like in the Convention Center?


SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Can you describe what it was like in the Convention Center?

PATRICIA HOLMES: Well, worse than what it is over there, with feces, and when the generator went out over there last night, and we had to sit outside on the sidewalk and everything. But the stench was terrible.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Where’s your family now?

PATRICIA HOLMES: Some of them’s in Atlanta and some of them’s in Houston, Texas.

GERALD JENKINS: My name is Gerald Jenkins. I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Where in New Orleans?

GERALD JENKINS: Eighth ward.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Where were you when the hurricane hit?

GERALD JENKINS: I was in the Lafayette Projects. The housing developments.

UNIDENTIFIED FRIEND: We went to the convention center for eight days. Sleeping outside. Eight days. That’s how they do n_____ around here, y’hear me?

GERALD JENKINS: We had no food. No water. No lights. No nothing. People were getting killed. They were getting raped. The buses say they coming, but them bitches too late.

UNIDENTIFIED NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: I’m missing you. I haven’t seen you since Tuesday. Where are y’all? I had to leave out the house because the water was coming. The water got almost into the house but I stopped it by putting blankets and stuff by the door. But Jocelyn, just get to some radio station. Get somewhere. Let me know where you all at. I’m missing y’all, right now I’m at the airport. They had to helicopter me out of there. I’m hurting. I’m sick and I’m missing you all. Love you.

AMY GOODMAN: Just some of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina speaking outside New Orleans airport this weekend as residents continue to be evacuated from the city. Thousands of residents brought to the airport, which was serving as a giant triage center. This Democracy Now!

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