I live near enough to Canada to get CBC, and I watched some of their coverage over the weekend ... it was fascinating/depressing to see their take on things ... calling the Superbowl/Convention Center refugee camps, showing bodies floating in the water and some really scary footage of try to "restore order," wondering how something like this could be happening to the world's richest country ... the best way I could relate it to the folks here is to have you imagine what it would be like if Christiern were running the news ...
Also, did anyone see this disgusting story:
A mother's most difficult decision
GREENSBURG, La. — A desperate crowd pressed against her as Beverly Burke huddled with her four children on a damp swatch of grass early Wednesday, all of them clamoring for a spot on a coveted military convoy headed out of New Orleans.
A vehicle pulled up.
“Infants only on this truck,” Burke recalled the sergeant as saying. He pointed to Burke’s oldest child, 10-year-old Sheba, and said, “She can’t go.”
Burke was confused. She said the soldier explained that this truck was designated only for babies, the elderly and one companion each. Other trucks were coming. The oldest girl could go with one of them.
Burke pleaded, to no avail, and said she was told she’d lose her spot unless she moved now.
That left her with a choice:
Leave the oldest child behind to catch another ride and rejoin them later at a dropoff point. Or take a chance that the family might lose their opportunity to escape alive if they waited to leave together.
Considering the chaos around her, Burke said, she believed the second option was no safe choice.
“Go ahead, Momma,” her oldest said softly. “Take care of the babies. I’ll follow you.”
Then Burke did what she now says no mother should have to do.
She loaded up her other children and told Sheba to stick close to her teenage cousins who stayed behind with her. From aboard the truck, Burke watched Sheba grow smaller in the distance.
And just like that, a shy girl in a pink Baby Phat jogging suit with crooked front teeth and long braids vanished into an evacuee throng amid what is likely the biggest natural disaster in U.S. history.
For the next two days, Burke and her family endured yet another layer of trauma in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath as they searched frantically for a girl who never showed up on that next truck.
It all ended Friday afternoon with an improbable scene of joy and disbelief as mother and child were reunited. But it was a moment that Burke feared would end another way.
Untold families were blown apart this week — not only by Hurricane Katrina, but in many cases by the forces of a chaotic government attempt to cope with the disaster.
As military convoys tried to evacuate the most vulnerable from New Orleans, some evacuees reported seeing pregnant women separated from husbands, children boarding convoys while pained parents watched.
Told of Burke’s account, a National Guard official in Washington said Friday she had no information on Sheba’s rescue or on Guard rescue policies that might result in family separations.
“There is no standard policy that the Guard goes by when evacuating, other than they take priority first,” said Guard spokeswoman Dalena Kanouse.
Red Cross officials said Friday they had no statistics on how many evacuee families were separated during rescue efforts.
Burke, a single mother, had kept her children safe through Monday’s hurricane, Tuesday’s flood and near starvation as the week unfolded. Her 1- and 2-year-old boys — Semajon and Sabian — were ill. Four-year-old Ashida was hungry and terrified. Their New Orleans home was flooded, their food gone.
Burke said Friday she and her four children had survived the initial flood by floating on a kiddie pool buoyed by tires to a partially submerged bridge.
Hours later, passing boaters ferried them to a dry patch of land where hundreds of other desperate families awaited National Guard trucks. A sergeant went through the crowd, Burke said, pulling out the elderly and infants. Babies were allowed one parent; the elderly were allowed one caretaker, she said.
When she and her youngest children were finally forced to board, Burke said, she kissed Sheba on the cheek. She said she asked the girl: “Sheba, baby, who are your people? Tell me their names.”
There was Uncle Travis in Houston, Sheba said. Auntie Shamica in Dallas and cousin Calvin in Baton Rouge.
“OK, good girl,” Burke said. “You remember those names.”
The family’s search for Sheba began almost as soon as she was left behind.
Burke, 40, said she and her three youngest children were first dropped off by the convoy on a dry street in New Orleans. There, in a crowd of thousands, Burke strained to see Sheba.
Several trucks arrived in the next few hours, but Sheba was not on them. Burke was then told to board another bus that would take them from the city. Burke asked if she could wait for Sheba, but said she was ordered to leave.
“When you have men pointing guns at you, telling you what to do, you have no control,” she said. “Nobody cared that my daughter wasn’t there.”
Burke and her children were driven to Thibodaux, west of New Orleans. When they arrived, Burke told a Red Cross worker that Sheba had been left behind. The worker told her she would be put on an alert list of lost family members. That was the best he could do, he told Burke.
Burke stayed up all night Wednesday watching buses arrive at the shelter. No Sheba. One bus, she said, seemed to have a lot of children without parents. She scanned every sad face, but no Sheba.
“Then I realized she could be anywhere,” Burke said. Her worst thought: that Sheba was still trapped in New Orleans.
By Thursday, Burke and her brood had been taken to a relative’s home in Greensburg, north of Baton Rouge. She called on family members from Texas to Detroit help find Sheba. Cousins in Baton Rouge, Houston and Dallas searched through shelters throughout Louisiana and Texas. No luck.
Then, at 3 p.m. Friday, Burke’s phone rang.
“I have her!” It was Calvin Page, Burke’s cousin from Baton Rouge. Sheba had survived, but barely.
Rescuers had moved the girl, her cousins and two neighbors into the New Orleans’ Convention Center, a scene of dead bodies, starving people and roaming thugs.
As relatives recounted it, people trapped in the convention center stole a city truck early Friday — taking Sheba with them — and broke out of the swamped city.
They made it to a shelter in Baton Rouge and turned on a cell phone that had been left with one of Sheba’s cousins. They charged the dead battery and called Page.
Three hours later, a quiet little girl in clean blue pants and blue shirt emerged from his car and was lifted off her feet into her mother’s arms.
“Look at you!” Burke cried. “Look at my baby!”
After a flood of tears from cousins and aunts all around, Sheba sat with her mother in a big rocking chair.
“You’re going to have to wash my hair; it’s real dirty,” the girl said quietly.
Her mother couldn’t wait.