Thursday, August 31, 2006

Remembering Katrina

August 29, 2006 marked the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina which is one of the most destructive natural disasters in the United States. The following is a post dated September 5, 2005 taken from my old blog (now offline). It is worth reading again.

-Katrina Survivor Speaks-

Spencer Francis is an American friend that I got to know through work. It was four years ago when I helped to raise some funding for his start up company based in Silicon Valley. Spencer is also a regular reader of IZ Reloaded. He was on holiday in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. He talked to me a few hours ago via phone.

IZ: Howdy Spence. It is so good to hear from you mate. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

Spencer: Always nice to hear a friendly voice.

IZ: Can you tell me and share with my readers what you've been through?

Spencer: Oh man, it was hell.

IZ: What were you doing in New Orleans?

Spencer: I was taking a break from work. I flew to New Orleans 10 days ago with a couple of friends. I've always loved New Orleans and the previous time I was there was three years ago. I'm not sure if I'll be returning to New Orleans ever again.

IZ: Are you aware that New Orleans is going to be hit by Katrina?

Spencer: Well, it was all over the news. I've encountered hurricanes before and I thought it would be okay to just try to stay through the storm but the city of New Orleans ordered an evacuation when it realised that it will be hit bad.

IZ: Where did you go to?

Spencer: We were asked to take shelter at the Superdome. Initially we thought it would be just for the night or two until the hurricane flies past us. It was relatively okay in the Superdome until we start getting more and more people flocking in. By the second day, it was like hell.

IZ: Reports said that the conditions were very bad there.

Spencer: We had, I think more than 20,000 people in the Superdome. Maybe even much more. We had no air con, no water and no food! We keep hearing that the govt is coming to help us. It is the same thing everyday but no one came. Oh man, you would freak out if you were there. At night, there were no lights and everyone was afraid. Most of the people there are blacks. I would say 99%. Whites like me were stared at and abused everytime we walk to the toilet for example. There were also rapes going on in the Superdome, some people were stabbed, molested. I couldn't believe that I'm in America. It was like Somalia. And the toilets were disgusting. Smell of urine and faeces everywhere. We come to the Superdome to seek refuge but all we get is hell.

IZ: What about the police? Is there anyone to provide some sort of protection for the people?

Spencer: From what I heard, the New Orleans police officers were busy in the streets, having their own gun battle with thugs. Then, I came across a group of Australians and Britons. We decided to group together and watch each other's back. Man, everyone was crying. It was horrible.

IZ: So when did you leave the Superdome?

Spencer: Only on Saturday morning. All of the sudden the army finally showed up. We got into one of the first few buses. It was chaotic. I even saw a few dead bodies lying around the Superdome. We were so happy to get out of the place man. We were sent to Houston and we managed to get a flight.

IZ: Are you satisfied with what the govt did?

Spencer: Hell no man! Five fucking days. No help. Nothing. It is like they deserted the people of New Orleans. Even now, the govt isn't doing much. There are still people on the freeways and on the streets that no one is helping. I'm outraged with the people we put our faith to lead and protect us. We are Americans! Our own govt can't even help us as fast as possible. Five days! That's crap man!

IZ: Spence, I'm glad that you and your friends are fine. Thanks again for talking to me.

Spencer: I hope you in Singapore are having a more comfortable time than me.

IZ: Well, except for the rain. No hurricanes here. Talk to you again. Cheers mate.

- End -

Spencer has yet to vist Katrina again after his experience.

Update: Spencer tells me that despite the occasional Superbowl nightmares, he will be making a trip to New Orleans for the New Year. Good on ya, mate!

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