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Survivors' fury at relief efforts
Survivors' fury at relief efforts
By Adam Harvey in Louisiana
September 04, 2005
ARMED soldiers were jeered and sworn at as they delivered the first supplies of food and water to desperate survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans yesterday.
Anger boiled over as 7000 National Guards rolled into the devastated city with much needed relief five days after the massive storm hit.
With a Louisiana senator predicting the death toll could hit 10,000, United States President George W. Bush toured the area and admitted the response had been inadequate.
During a land and air tour of hard-hit areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama - but not downtown New Orleans - President Bush said of the relief effort: "The results are not enough".
"I want you to know that I'm not going to forget what I've seen," he said. "I understand the devastation requires more than one day's attention.
"It's going to require the attention of this country for a long period of time. This is one of the worst natural disasters we have faced, with national consequences. And therefore, there will be a national response."
Troops in flatbed trucks loaded with bottled water and ready-to-eat meals made a bee-line for the New Orleans Superdome where 20,000 refugees have been living like animals amid a total breakdown of law and order.
"They should have been here days ago," said 46-year-old Michael Levy as he lined up in the extreme heat to get water.
"We've been sleeping on the ground like rats. I say burn this whole ... city down." His words were echoed by those around him, who yelled: "Hell, yeah!"
The commander of the troops promised to restore order as survivors recounted horrific cases of sexual assault and murder.
At the city's convention centre where thousands had sought refuge, Trolkyn Joseph, 37, said men had wandered around raping and murdering children.
She said she found a dead 14-year-old girl at 5am yesterday, four hours after she went missing inside the convention centre.
"She was raped for four hours until she was dead," Ms Joseph said through tears.
"Another child, a seven-year-old boy, was found raped and murdered in the kitchen freezer last night."
Residents said babies, the frail and the elderly had died waiting for food.
Racial tensions were inflamed in the chaos. The bulk of those who were unable to flee the storm came from poor, black neighbourhoods and said they felt abandoned by the Government.
Selma Valenti and her husband, two of the few white people in the refugee camps, said she and other whites were threatened with murder.
"They hated us. Four young black men told us the buses were going to come last night and pick up the elderly so they were going to kill us," she said, sobbing.
US Senator David Vitter said that the death toll from Hurricane Katrina could top 10,000 in Louisiana alone.
"My guess is that it will start at 10,000, but that is only a guess," he said.
The Bush administration is under fire for diverting money from flood mitigation projects in Louisiana to the war effort in Iraq.
The soldiers' arrival in force came amid angry complaints from the mayor and others that the Government had bungled the relief effort and let people die in the streets for lack of food, water or medicine.