Hurricane Katrina, one of many stories of that event.
21 Sep 2009
The days leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina were filled with unknowns about what this storm would bring. We watched as it grew in strength and worried as it appeared that it would impact a large section of the Gulf of Mexico. I work in Ft Worth Texas as a Police Officer and we began preparing for the storms arrival although we did not know for sure what to expect. We did know that many people would be affected by this storm and we would need to be ready.
August 28th 2005 arrived with news that land fall was going to be very soon. The storm was already causing problems and at that time we at the police department knew we would have our hands full with the influx of people fleeing the storm. The emergency centers were already up and running, officers were being prepared to work overtime and the city braced for the storms arrival and what ever would come with it. I went to bed that evening knowing the next day would be very hard for a lot of people along the coast.
It's 7 am August 29th 2005 and as I watch the news I see that we were right to be ready. soon we would be flooded with people driven from their homes and what they had to look forward to was large open areas and shared space with hundreds of other folks. You can't really understand how that affects people unless you've been there. You have no privacy, no real quiet, nothing that is even close to your home and way of life just a day before. I hoped that we would be able to make these folks feel as at ease as we could and help them retain their dignity while using a cot as a bed. Soon whole families would be arriving in our city, I prayed we made their life at least a little more comfortable,
Sept 2nd I was contacted about helping New Orleans Police Officers. I was put in contact with a Lt. from District 2 of the NOPD. The New Orleans Police are required to live in the city as a condition of employment. 80 percent of New Orleans was now basically under water or destroyed by the storm. This meant that these officers had no place to go and change clothes, eat a meal or clean up. It became my task to arrange for relief items for these officers. I started by taking requests for items, what did they really need most? What could we bring them that would make their life better given the circumstances. We started collecting various items from the North Texas area to get to these officers. We were shocked to learn that these officers did not have simple communications so we arranged for radios. We arranged for boots to fit each and every officer. Tires for their cars and water to clean up with, rat poison because they were sleeping with rats!!
As I pulled together all the donated items and made arrangements to get these items delivered I began to learn about problems getting into the city. I was informed that we could not go into the city. We would have to leave our donated items in Baton Rouge La, and hope that they arrived where they were intended. So I said that what we had was intended specifically for officers at one location and that we would be delivering the supplies to them only. A very nice person from FEMA informed me that should we attempt to enter the city we would be arrested. I thought that this would prove interesting, FEMA arresting a convoy of Police Officers taking relief supplies to stranded New Orleans Police. How would that play out. Then I learned that the area was basically lawless and that some supplies were getting hijacked. Later I spoke with Galveston PD officers who had taken supplies into New Orleans along I-10 and had faced off with FEMA there. I told the New Orleans Police of our problems and they said they would get us in.
September 10th 2005, it's 3 am and we are on the way with over $30,000.00 in supplies. Ten Fort Worth police officers headed into a war zone. This proved to be interesting as we headed into the area,already having seen the results of the hurricane. We met the first signs of the storm long before we arrived in city and were shocked at the extent of what we saw. We arrived at the North end of the bridge leading into the city and met our escort.
The New Orleans PD officers told us to get ready and to not stop as we approached the check point. We sped up to 60 MPH and blew through the check point as the Military guards turned their backs to us pretending not to see us. I saluted them as I realized what they had just done.They knew what was needed and made sure it got done!
As we entered the city the stench hit us. The destruction was everywhere and it was a shock to us! We drove to the District 2 headquarters where we met the men and women of New Orleans PD district 2. They had few uniforms, they lived in the building, it was now their home.They were extremely happy to see us. As they crowded around us some even cried because we had clean clothes, new boots, soap,socks batteries, radios,, and new tires for the cars!
We met the Capt. and the Chief of Police, they grabbed our hands and shook them off ,we hugged and we laughed at how they looked and then we unloaded. They wanted us to hurry so they could show us the city before we had to leave. Despite being well armed we were informed that it was not safe to stay past sundown. They couldn't provide us with anything so we needed to leave. We unloaded and then headed out to see what was left.
My senses had been overloaded, I smelled death at every turn, We saw the recovery of bodies and even knew that only a few blocks from the Head quarters a body lay in the street. Federal officials insisted that they would handle the recovery of bodies. Water, dirt, debris was every where, buildings destroyed or broken into to loot,or in some cases to survive. It's looting when you run off with TV;s in a city with no power, it's survival when you run out with diapers and food for the babies! I was not new to the smell, yet it was always there, and that made it bad, you couldn't escape it! Every where you turned, destruction. I was ready to leave.
I looked at empty streets and cars left abandoned every where. doors open, tires taken from some, gas siphoned out of others. It was like a bad B movie. Street after street of no people. No one walking, no cars moving, nothing but the smell.
We arrived back at the headquarters and prepared to leave. The Officers thanked us over and over, again some tears dropped, we really hated to leave but we knew they were right, we had to go. We had no food for us, no way to take care of ourselves at all. We got to go back to our homes while they had to stay, no homes to go back to, no families waiting as they had already fled. We wished we could have done more, given them some kind of break, anything to make the hell they were in easier to take. But we left,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,