Disaster unfolds 

"Arabi resident Patrick Lannes, who helped evacuate 17 people from the second floor of Arabi Elementary School, said he found them eating a raw turkey that had been sitting out for four days.

'One woman told her husband, "Oh, honey, give him a Coke,"' he said. 'They're eating rotting meat, and they offered me their last Coke like I was a guest just stopping by for dinner.'"

-- From a news story in New Orleans' Times-Picayune

"His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, 'Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?' And he said, 'Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday.' And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night."

-- Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, speaking on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," about one man's efforts to rescue his mother from a flooded nursing home

"We are seeing babies dead on the ground, babies!"

-- Yolanda Jenkins, a local official, quoted in a New Orleans newspaper

"You save the people you can, and then you move on. But at the end of the day, you are haunted by visions of the people you couldn't help -- the lady who grabbed my ankles and said, 'Sheriff, can you give me a bottle of water?' All I could tell her was, 'I'm sorry.'"

-- St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack Stephens, quoted in the Times-Picayune

"No one's ever seen anything that could ever compare to this. I was command superintendent in Afghanistan two months after 9/11 and this is worse."

-- Chief Master Sgt. Rodney Christa, who is overseeing the massive rescue operation, quoted in the Times-Picayune

"Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history."

-- Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press"

"If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?"

-- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in USA Today

"[It was] like there'd been a nuclear weapon set off."

-- Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, on the destruction along the coast in Biloxi and Gulfport

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

-- President George W. Bush, in a Sept. 1 interview with Diane Sawyer

"In June 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, fretted to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans: 'It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.'"

-- New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, in a Sept. 3 column

Paula Zahn: You're not telling me that you just learned that the folks at the convention center didn't have food and water until today [Thursday, Sept. 1], are you? You had no idea that they were completely cut off?

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Paula, the federal government did not even know about the convention center people until today.

-- Exchange during a CNN


"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

-- President George W. Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown on Sept. 2

"The sight of the last person -- an elderly man wearing a Houston Rockets cap -- prompted cheers from members of the Texas National Guard who were guarding the facility. 'I feel like I've been here 40 years,' said Louis Dalmas Sr., one of the last people to leave the Superdome. 'Any bus going anywhere -- that's all I want.'"

-- From a Sept. 3 news story reported by the Associated Press

"At one point Friday, the evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses pulled up so some 700 guests and employees from the hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line -- much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the Superdome since last Sunday."

-- From a Sept. 3 news story reported by the Associated Press

"A lot of the people -- a lot of the people who stayed wanted to do this destruction. They figured it out. And that's -- I'm not surprised."

-- Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly, criticizing looters on Sept. 2

"You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people that were stuck in attics, man, old ladies. ... You pull off the doggone ventilator vent and you look down there and they're standing in there in water up to their freaking necks. ... And they don't have a clue what's going on down here. They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn -- excuse my French, everybody in America, but I am pissed."

-- New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, in an emotional Sept. 2 radio interview

"Some critics have seized on a news photograph of the president palling around with a country singer and posing with a gift guitar on August 30 -- even as officials predicted Katrina's death toll would run in the hundreds -- to say that the president was not taking the situation seriously enough.

"'The bottom line is he needs to appear much more involved, much more hands on, much more in touch with the reality on the ground. He certainly should not be being photographed with a guitar,' said a Republican congressional aide."

-- From a Sept. 4 story on News24, a South African news organization

"This is our tsunami."

-- Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway

''Government at all levels failed. It is difficult to understand the lack of preparedness and the ineffective initial response to a disaster that had been predicted for years, and for which specific, dire warnings had been given for days.''

-- Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, quoted in the New York Times, announcing that the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will hold hearings into the response

"We could be witnessing a significant moment in America. Hurricane Katrina has revealed some uncomfortable truths about the world's richest and most powerful nation. The catastrophe in New Orleans exposed shocking inequalities -- both of wealth and race -- and also the relative impotence of the federal authorities when faced with a large-scale disaster. Many Americans are beginning to ask just what sort of country they are living in. At the same time, the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist and the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor have opened up two vacancies in the Supreme Court. There will be intense scrutiny of who the President appoints to sit in this moral cockpit of American life. There is a sense that the struggle for the soul of America is gathering pace."

-- From a Sept. 5 editorial in U.K. newspaper The Independent


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