“This is an agonizing time for the people of the Gulf Coast.”
— President Bush from the Oval Office.
“We’re out here like pure animals. We don’t have water. We don’t have food. We don’t have help.”
— The Rev. Issac Clark, 68, who has been stuck outside the New Orleans Convention Center for days.
“This is a desperate SOS. We are out of resources at the convention center.”
— New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who pleaded for buses and resources for suffering citizens.
“I’m not sure I’m going to get out of here alive. I’m scared of riots. I’m scared of the locals. We might get caught in the crossfire.”
— Canadian tourist Larry Mitzel, who handed a reporter his business card in case he goes missing in New Orleans.
“We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten. Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon.”
— Police Chief Eddie Compass, whose officers are contending with angry, frustrated mobs at the convention center.
“I never slept on the street before.”
— Ann Robertson, a 50-year-old vocational counselor from Nashville, Tenn., who banded together with other displaced tourists after the bus they chartered to get them out of New Orleans was commandeered by federal officials.
“This is just insanity. We have no food, no water … all these trucks and buses go by and they do nothing but wave.”
— Debbie Durso of Washington, Mich., who said she asked for help from a police officer whose response was, “‘Go to hell — it’s every man for himself.”‘
“Why aren’t they helping us? We are the forgotten. The thugs and the criminals are the heroes. They’re the ones that were saving us. The police were nowhere.”
— Rachel Carey, 23, a clerk at Charity Hospital, tending to her 4-year-old daughter at the squalid convention center scene.
“These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will.”
— Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who issued a warning to lawbreakers: Hundreds of National Guard troops hardened on the battlefield in Iraq have landed in New Orleans.
“We’re dumping things into the hole, just to stem the tide.”
— Brig. Gen. Robert Crear, commander of the crew working to fix New Orleans’ floodwall. Military helicopters dropped sandbags into the levee breach Thursday to try to stem the floodwaters from Lake Pontchartrain.
“These bunks are going to be territorial. Somebody gets up and then somebody’s going to take their bunk.”
— Sheriff Tommy Thomas, who arrested men in Houston’s Astrodome for going into the female showers or for fighting over cots.
“We’ve actually reached capacity for the safety and comfort of the people inside there.”
— American Red Cross spokeswoman Dana Allen, as the agency announced late Thursday that the Astrodome had reached its limit with 11,000 Hurricane Katrina refugees. Arriving buses were redirected to other shelters.
“We’re getting calls across the country from people who want to help. It’s going to be the largest influx of refugees in American history.”
— Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who announced that 50,000 more refugees would relocate to Texas, with plans to house 25,000 each in San Antonio and Dallas.
“They need to be bringing us something. I know it’s bad everywhere. But they’re treating us badly. They shouldn’t do us that way. We need water and we need food.”
— Shanell Woodward of Bond, Miss.
“We have been trying to call the mayor’s office, we have been trying to call the governor’s office … we have tried to use any inside pressure we can. We are turning to you. Please help us.”
— Dr. Norman McSwain, chief of trauma surgery at Charity Hospital, the larger of two public hospitals in New Orleans. The hospitals were running short of food, power and resources. Patients were moved to higher floors to escape looters.
“This is a national disgrace. FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can’t bail out the city of New Orleans.”
— Terry Ebbert, the head of emergency operations for New Orleans.
“I’m satisfied that we have not only more than enough forces there and on the way. And frankly, what we’re doing is we are putting probably more than we need in order to send an unambiguous message that we will not tolerate lawlessness or violence or interference with the evacuation.”
— Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
“Bush, Congress, the mayor — each of them are symptoms of a bigger problem, that we don’t have accountability for disasters or challenges of this scale. That’s all the public wants in trying times — accountability.”
— Robin Lovin, ethics professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, adding it’s too convenient to blame one branch of government when they are all, at some level, failing people.
“We just wanted to get involved. A couple of us here at the station have put forth the effort and the time to do this.”
— Petty Officer James Bowersvest of the U.S. Coast Guard in Port Isabel, Texas, who contacted counterparts in New Orleans to offer assistance.
“Charity begins at home. We call on anybody who has even the thought (of giving) to get beyond the thought and help these people.”
— Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, who helped organize an online auction for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
Thursday September 1
“This is a national disgrace. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims but we can’t bail out the city of New Orleans.”
— An angry Terry Ebbert, head of New Orleans’ emergency operations, watched the slow procession from the Superdome on Thursday morning and said the Federal Emergency Management Agency response was inadequate.
“We’re the forgotten about. The Louisiana officials are trying to get their people out. They don’t care about us.”
— Susan Dewey, 23, of Washington, one of countless tourists trapped in the city amid the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
“I would rather have been in jail. I’ve been in there seven days and I haven’t had a bath. They treated us like animals. Everybody is scared.”
— Janice Jones said in obvious relief at being out of the dome.
“These are good people. These are just scared peopled.”
— Police Capt. Ernie Demmo, after a National Guard military policeman was shot in the leg in a scuffle for his rifle.
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“We need an effort of 9-11 proportions. So many of the people who did not evacuate, could not evacuate for whatever reason. They are people who are African-American mostly but not completely, and people who were of little or limited economic means. They are the folks, we’ve got to get them out of there.”
— Former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, now president of the Urban League, said on NBC’s Today show.