Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones
cleolinda

Entry 2: Everything else I've got at the moment. God, I need to go do some more designs, or watch Rome or something, for my own sanity. It's getting bad out there.

la_sonnambula: "I had a vague notion that the government can get commercial airlines to help and wondered why civilian airplanes couldn't airlift people out of New Orleans. The Civil Reserve Air Fleet, for reasons I don't know, is not deployed. Instead, late Thursday afternoon Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson asked James C. May, president of the trade group Air Transport Association whether the airlines could fly people out of NOLA. Operation Air Care was launched and the first mercy flight left for New Orleans at 8 A.M. Friday morning. Twelve airlines, including Air Canada are donating their planes and crew to the relief effort. FEMA will reimburse them for the jet fuel. Cargo airlines like FedEx and UPS are also helping."

carlanime: "Speaking of cronyism, have you linked to anything about FEMA director George Brown's qualifications yet?"

sigma7: "And more links, if you're so interested....

Journalists in Baton Rouge need places to crash. And some journos in the area are missing.

Wisconsin paper says don't use "looting" (third letter down).
N'awlins paper still printing. Damn.

AP weighs in on the "looting"/"taking" wank.

Coach of the U of N'awlins accuses other schools of trying to "loot" his players. Insert wank joke here...."

Quick links:

If you read nothing else, read this link. How "a shot was fired" turned into "Snipers are shooting at helicopters!" ("We're controlling every single aircraft in that airspace and none of them reported being fired on," she said, adding that the FAA was in contact with the military as well as civilian aircraft. )

Doors never closed at this Big Easy bar.

Mississippians' Suffering Overshadowed.

Help the Internet Archive archive blog coverage of Katrina.

White House Shifts Blame to State and Local Officials.

U.S. Asks EU, NATO for Hurricane Aid.

A Navy hospital ship has been sitting for a week off the coast of New Orleans, waiting for FEMA to allow them to help.

A list of links about offers of aid that have been or still are being delayed or turned down.

Chertoff: Feds in Control of New Orleans. Chertoff is the one, I might add, who said FEMA had no idea there was a major situation at the convention center, at which point Ted Koppel said, flabbergasted, "Do you not watch TV at all? Do you not listen to the radio?"

Ann Coulter in all her nonsensical glory: "And in the same way the rest of the country ran to support New York, I'm waiting to see if New Yorkers will run to support the suffering victims of Katrina. I just think New Yorkers think of themselves as their own country. Of course, New York firefighters, they're Americans."

"I don't care if I get blamed for it," Gibson said, "as long as I saved my people." 

Anne Rice: "Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans?"

Another viewpoint from NO: now officially the site of America's greatest shame. "The Cavalry can't get past FEMA":
We had Wal-mart deliver three trucks of water. Trailer trucks of water. Fema turned them back, said we didn't need them. This was a week go. We had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a coast guard vessel docked in my parish. The coast guard said come get the fuel right way. When we got there with our trucks, they got a word, FEMA says don't give you the fuel. Yesterday, yesterday, fema comes in and cuts all our emergency communications lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in. he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards said no one is getting near these lines.
[...]
The guy who runs this building I'm in. Emergency management. He's responsible for everything. 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. And she drowned Friday night. Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The Secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For god's sakes, just shut up and send us somebody.

</a></b></a>crickets: The hurricane and the poor of New Orleans - a timeline 
This is a wordy, but thorough post on the failures of the government when it comes to aiding the poor, primarily black citizens of New Orleans.

Let's start at the beginning, before the hurricane. We had information from the Natural Hazards Institute showing the effects of a massive hurricane in New Orleans. It's a great read, because it's exactly right.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also understood the threat, and were repeatedly denied any substantial funds to handle the problem. This year they requested $27 million to deal with the problem. Bush's budget proposed $4 million, and then Congress compromised to less than $6 million.

The Editor and Publisher tracks print media in a very objective way. They're well known for their factual coverage of American newspapers. They astutely point out that the Army Corps of Engineers never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. That's what happens when you are spending more than $50 million a day in Iraq and cutting taxes at the same time. (And I've seen higher estimates of our spending up to $200 million. Maybe our military friends can give a more precise estimate here?)

Louisiana is one of poorest states in the U.S.A. Some 134,000 could not leave because they lacked transportation. Did I forget to mention that the city only ordered an evacuation AFTER the city had closed the buses and trains that could lead people out to safety? Oh, well, yeah, that too. Still, the President didn't order the military in to help evacuate.

If you didn't have access to food and water, what would you go for? Probably guns, ammunition and commodities that can be traded for other more important goods later on. That's what they did.

The U.S. possesses military aircraft like the cargo ships. They can airdrop 45,000 pounds of food, medicine, and essential supplies per drop, without needing a landing space. Were any sent by our President? No. I think we have the cargo ships in Iraq. Are there ANY here in the United States? My military friends might be able to explain this to me better.

Then when these citizens get $25,000 together to hire 10 buses to get them out on Wednesday. A hotel organized the line in an orderly fashion by age and illness. The military confiscated the buses instead. They evacuated no people with the buses they confiscated. The citizens were out $25,000 and are now among the ones dying at the Convention center.

We should be dropping so many supplies that the people wouldn't know what to do with it all. Only when is there an abundance of supplies and/or 50,000 military troops can the the fighting and killing cease.

President Bush doesn't really care about the poor people in New Orleans very much.

[The above was written before Kanye West's comments, btw.]


More AP articles. Be careful--I'm kind of desensitized to the horror after collecting these articles for so many days now, but the articles are getting more and more grisly as we go, and there's discussion of suicide in at least two of the articles. The last two, I think.

New Orleans residents lament lack of insurance
By Belinda Goldsmith

[12 pm CST]

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Packing just a few T-shirts and some shorts, Jenny Bagert joined the hordes fleeing New Orleans after a warning that one of the fiercest hurricanes in U.S. history was about to hit the low-lying southern city.

Her lack of preparation was fairly typical for New Orleans residents who had grown increasingly complacent about hurricane warnings and evacuation plans, with few adequately insured against the long forewarned disaster.

"We evacuate so often we know what and how we should prepare, but you just get used to it. We never thought it would be this bad," Bagert, 32, a photographer, told Reuters by telephone from an aunt's house near Houston, Texas.


"I'm hoping my one-story, raised house in mid-city might be OK, but we saw my mother's house on the television with just the roof showing so we know she has lost it."

But Bagert's family is among the lucky ones. They took out flood insurance, well aware of the risks in New Orleans, which is below sea level and encircled by levees. They are still stunned by the devastation and thousands of deaths in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"We just keep breaking down," Bagert said.

Only about 40 percent of New Orleans homeowners have flood insurance, which is provided in the United States under a government program, the National Flood Insurance Program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Standard homeowner insurance only covers damage from fire and wind while commercial or automobile insurance does cover flood damage. A high number of car claims are expected from Katrina with thousands of cars submerged.

Private insurers, like State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Allstate Corp., which lead the home insurance market in the state of Louisiana, do sell policies for the FEMA and can settle the claims for policy holders.

FEW INSURED

But only 85,000 residential and commercial policies have been sold in Orleans parish, in which the city is located, by the NFIP, according to latest figures -- while the U.S. census lists about 213,000 housing units in the city in 2002.

"We estimate about 40 percent of properties have flood insurance -- and virtually all the damage caused in New Orleans was by floods, not winds," a FEMA spokesman said.

The NFIP program also only offers up to $250,000 for homeowners to rebuild damaged properties, and up to $100,000 to replace contents.

Risk modeler Risk Management Solutions has estimated that 150,000 properties have been flooded in New Orleans.

But widespread flooding, debris, power outages and a lack of lodging could prevent damage assessments for weeks.

Early estimates expect Katrina to be the most costly U.S. storm, with insured losses of more than $25 billion -- topping insured losses of $21 billion from Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

"This is going to be one of the, if not the, most costly natural disaster in the United states," said Jeanne Salvatore, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute.

Salvatore said each claim would be have to handled on a case-by-case basis to see if the damage was caused by water, winds, or a combination of both. Some properties were destroyed by fire.

Homeowners without flood coverage whose homes were water damaged will have to rebuild using their own funds.

In past catastrophes, insurers have covered about 60 percent of total economic loss, but this could be considerably less with Katrina because so much of the damage has been caused by flooding, which is not covered by the insurers.

Instead, business claims, such as insurance for business interruption, could represent about 50 percent of claims, up from 30 percent after previous hurricanes.

LOST MEMORIES

People who rent properties are not insured for flooding.

Bedonna Wakeman, 56, a street artist, was renting an apartment in the Marigny area that was badly affected but she was out of town when the Katrina pummeled the U.S Gulf Coast.

"I have lost everything I own -- from my mother and father's wedding picture to the 12 canvases I had painted for a new show," Wakeman said from her son's apartment in New York.

"It's just so hard to fathom that it could be two months, six months, or a year before we are allowed back. No one knows."

Hurricane Katrina is likely to put further upward pressure on insurance rates, which were already rising in the Gulf states and the Southeast, by reminding insurers that too much exposure to coastal areas can be risky.

But the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said the property and casualty industry had adequate capital and liquidity required to withstand even the record losses expected to stem from Katrina. The industry has $425 billion in reserves, according to second-quarter figures.

However, residents who managed to leave the city to watch the disaster unfold from a safe distance said their losses were nothing compared with the suffering of those left behind, with flooding wiping out many of the poorer neighborhoods.

"You are just looking into the face of death when you see those people still there," Wakeman said.


HHS Chief: Katrina Death Toll in Thousands
[1:00 pm CST]

WASHINGTON - Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said Sunday the death toll from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is in the thousands, the first time a federal official has acknowledged what many had feared.

Leavitt said he couldn't provide a precise number on the impact of the devastation, but when asked if it was in the thousands, he told CNN's "Late Edition," "I think it's evident it's in the thousands."

"It's clear to me that this has been sickeningly difficult and profoundly tragic circumstance," Leavitt said.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said it was likely thousands were dead based on the city's population of 500,000, the percentage who left before the storm hit and the number evacuated from the shelters.

"So you probably have another 50-60,000 out there," Nagin said. "You do the math, man, what do you think? Five percent is unreasonable? Ten percent? Twenty percent? It's going to be a big number."

Earlier in the day,  Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had declined to estimate the death toll, but conceded that an untold number of people could have perished in swamped homes and temporary shelters where many went for days without food or water.

"I think we need to prepare the country for what's coming," Chertoff said. "What's going to happen when we de-water and remove the water from New Orleans is we're going to uncover people who died, maybe hiding in houses, got caught by the flood, people whose remains are going to be found in the streets. ... It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as I think you can imagine."

Leavitt said he had received a report of an outbreak of dysentery in Biloxi, Miss., with disease among the concerns of federal officials in the hurricane's aftermath. Dysentery is a painful intestinal disease that can cause dehydration and can sometimes be fatal.

The lack of clean drinking water in parts of the Gulf Coast region and standing flood waters with decomposing bodies and human waste in the streets of New Orleans could cause a rash of infectious diseases, including  West Nile virus and the often fatal E. coli bacteria.

"All of the infectious diseases that occur when people are in large congregations of people can spread," Leavitt said.

Amid widespread criticism about a slow and ineffectual response to the crisis, the Bush administration dispatched several top officials to the region: Chertoff, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers and Secretary of State     Condoleezza Rice.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush visited the Red Cross' disaster operation center, where they thanked employees. The president also announced that the White House would hold a blood drive on Friday.

"The world saw this tidal wave of disaster ascend upon the Gulf Coast," said Bush, who plans to return to the region Monday. "Now they can see a tidal wave of compassion."

In a series of interviews, Chertoff said the evacuation and relief operations are under way — with federal assistance in place.

"There's no question that with the addition of National Guard and regular troops we've secured the city," Chertoff said on "Fox News Sunday." "We've got the adequate personnel now who are able to make sure that we have a comprehensive evacuation effort."

The criticism has continued unabated as it has taken days for food and water to reach thousands who took shelter in the Superdome, the New Orleans convention center and even the hard concrete of the highways traversing the city.

Nagin told NBC News on Sunday that the situation has been "a tragedy, a disgrace."

Chertoff said authorities are in place to handle the crisis, while cautioning that major challenges lay ahead.

"We are still in the middle of an emergency," he said on CNN's "Late Edition." "This is not the time when we can draw a sigh of relief."

Chertoff defended the job of FEMA Director Michael Brown and declined to get into a discussion about whether the government moved quickly and forcefully enough to deal with the catastrophe, saying there would be plenty of time for a review.

He did complain about problems getting information from local officials.

"One of the things we'll look at is why in the middle of this emerging crisis there was kind of a conflict on the information," Chertoff said on the Fox program.

Chertoff shrugged off suggestions that the demand for National Guard troops in  Iraq had depleted the numbers available to respond to the crisis.

On Saturday, Bush ordered more than 7,000 active duty forces to the region and 10,000 National Guard troops were being sent to the Gulf Coast. All total, the number of Guard personnel in the stricken states is about 40,000.

Chertoff said Saturday that more than 100,000 people had received humanitarian aid and the Coast Guard had rescued 9,500 people.



New Orleans Begins Grisly Cleanup
By ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writer

[1:00 pm CST]

NEW ORLEANS - Rescuers going house to house searched for hurricane survivors Sunday, and New Orleans turned its attention to gathering up what could be thousands of bodies from the floodwaters. "It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as I think you can imagine," the nation's homeland security chief warned.

No one knows how many people were killed by Hurricane Katrina and how many more succumbed waiting to be rescued. But the bodies are everywhere: hidden in attics, floating in the ruined city, crumpled in wheelchairs, abandoned on highways.

"I think it's evident it's in the thousands," Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said Sunday on CNN, echoing predictions by city and state officials last week about the death toll.

Craig Vanderwagen, rear admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service, said one morgue alone, at a St. Gabriel prison, expected 1,000 to 2,000 bodies.

"We need to prepare the country for what's coming," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on "Fox News Sunday." "We are going to uncover people who died, maybe hiding in houses, got caught by the flood. ... It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as I think you can imagine."

Air and boat crews from many agencies searched flooded neighborhoods in and around the city for survivors. To expedite the rescues, the Coast Guard requested that anyone stranded hang out brightly colored or white sheets, towels or "anything else that might help draw attention to those still in need of assistance."

Chertoff said rescuers have encountered a significant number of people who have said they don't want to evacuate.

"That is not a reasonable alternative," he said. "We are not going to be able to have people sitting in houses in the city of New Orleans for weeks and months while we de-water and clean this city. ... The flooded places, when they're de-watered, are not going to be sanitary."

In addition to civilian deaths, New Orleans emergency service agencies have had to deal with some suicides among their ranks, Mayor Ray Nagin said.

"I've got some firefighters and police officers that have been pretty much traumatized," he said. "And we've already had a couple of suicides so I am cycling them out as we speak, but we have a problem. I can get them to Baton Rouge, but once I get them to Baton Rouge there's no hospitals. They need physical and psychological evaluations."


Sunday morning, a woman's body remained lying at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Magazine Street — a business area in the lower Garden District with antique shops on the edge of blighted housing. The body had been there since at least Wednesday.

As days passed, people covered her with blankets or plastic.

By Sunday, a short wall of bricks had been built around her body, holding down a plastic tarpaulin. On it, someone had spray-painted a cross and the words, "Here lies Vera. God help us."

Outside the convention center Sunday, where walk-up stragglers and those picked up by rescuers were being evacuated, Navy Lt. Andy Steczo of Bossier City, La., was dressing a gash on 56-year-old Pedro Martinez' ankle and cuts on his knuckle and forearm.

Martinez said he was injured while helping people onto rescue boats. "I don't have any medication and it hurts. I'm glad to get out of here," he said.

Steczo, who came with other personnel from the Jacksonville Naval Hospital, was among medics checking evacuees before they leave. Bullet wounds, knife wounds, infections, dehydration and chronic problems such as diabetes were among the problems he'd dealt with.

"We're cleaning them up the best we can and then shipping them out," Steczo said.

Some victims scavenged what they could find among the detritus left behind.

John Henry picked up a pair of hiking shoes, a pair of tennis shoes that looked unworn, packs of cigarettes and a variety of spirits, including bottles of cognac and Jack Daniels. "We're looting the people who were looting," he said, cackling. "I love it. I have to admit it."

He also picked up a T-shirt showing the Three Stooges. "Larry, Curley and Moe. I'm keeping this one. It stinks, though," he said.

The last 300 refugees at the Superdome were evacuated Saturday evening, eliciting cheers from members of the Texas National Guard who had been standing watch over the facility for nearly a week as some 20,000 hurricane survivors waited for rescue.

On Sunday, utilities planned to send trucks into the city to assess storm damage for the first time since Katrina struck. Morgan Stewart, a spokesman for electricity provider Entergy Corp., said the National Guard would escort the company's vehicles.

The exact number of dead won't be known for some time. Survivors were still being plucked from roofs and shattered highways across the city. President Bush ordered more than 7,000 active duty forces to the Gulf Coast on Saturday.

The overwhelming majority of those stranded in the post-Katrina chaos were those without the resources to escape — and, overwhelmingly, they were black.

During a tour of damaged parts of her native Alabama, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended President Bush against charges that the government's sluggish response to Katrina showed racial insensitivity.

"Nobody, especially the president, would have left people unattended on the basis of race," the administration's highest-ranking black said.

Tens of thousands of people had been evacuated from New Orleans, seeking safety in Texas, Tennessee and many other states.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry warned Saturday that his enormous state was running out of room, with more than 220,000 hurricane refugees camped out there and more coming. Emergency workers at the Astrodome were told to expect 10,000 new arrivals daily for the next three days.

In Washington, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced that more than 10,000 people had been flown out of New Orleans in what he called the largest airlift in history on U.S. soil. He said the flights would continue as long as needed.

Thousands of people remained at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, where officials turned a Delta Blue terminal into a triage unit. Officials said 3,000 to 5,000 people had been treated at the unit, but fewer than 200 remain. Others throughout the airport awaited transport out of the city.

Airport director Roy Williams said about 30 people had died, some of them elderly and ill. The bodies were being kept in refrigerated trucks as a temporary morgue.


New Orleans Begins Counting Its Dead
By ROBERT TANNER, AP National Writer

[5:40 pm CST]

NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans turned much of its attention Sunday to gathering up and counting the dead across a ghastly landscape awash in perhaps thousands of corpses. "It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as I think you can imagine," the nation's homeland security chief warned.

As authorities struggled to keep order, police shot and killed at least five people Sunday after gunmen opened fire on a group of contractors traveling across a bridge on their way to make repairs, Deputy Police Chief W.J. Riley said.

Fourteen contractors were traveling across the Danziger Bridge under police escort when they came under fire, said John Hall, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers. None of the contractors was killed, Hall said.

The bridge spans a canal connecting Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.

No other details, including whether any of the gunmen were killed, were immediately available.

Air and boat crews searched flooded neighborhoods for survivors, and federal officials urged those still left in New Orleans to leave for their own safety.

To expedite the rescues, the Coast Guard requested through the media that anyone stranded hang out brightly colored or white linens or something else to draw attention. But with the electricity out though much of the city, it was not known if the message was being received.

With large-scale evacuations completed at the Superdome and Convention Center, the death toll was not known. But bodies were everywhere: floating in canals, slumped in wheelchairs, abandoned on highways and medians and hidden in attics.

"I think it's evident it's in the thousands," Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said Sunday on CNN, echoing predictions by city and state officials last week. The U.S. Public Health Service said one morgue alone, at a St. Gabriel prison, expected 1,000 to 2,000 bodies.

In the first official count in the New Orleans area, Louisiana emergency medical director Louis Cataldie said authorities had verified 59 deaths — 10 of them at the Superdome.

"We need to prepare the country for what's coming," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on "Fox News Sunday." "We are going to uncover people who died, maybe hiding in houses, got caught by the flood. ... It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as I think you can imagine."

Chertoff said rescuers have encountered a number of people who said they did not want to evacuate.

"That is not a reasonable alternative," he said. "We are not going to be able to have people sitting in houses in the city of New Orleans for weeks and months while we de-water and clean this city. ... The flooded places, when they're de-watered, are not going to be sanitary."

In addition to civilian deaths, New Orleans' police department has had to deal with suicides in its ranks. Two officers took their lives, including the department spokesman, Paul Accardo, who died Saturday, according to Riley. Both shot themselves in the head, he said.

"I've got some firefighters and police officers that have been pretty much traumatized," Mayor Ray Nagin said. "And we've already had a couple of suicides, so I am cycling them out as we speak. ... They need physical and psychological evaluations."

In a showing of police power, foot patrols of National Guardsmen carrying M-16 rifles and backed by a convoy of several dozen Humvees set out on Jackson Avenue in Uptown New Orleans.

The strain was apparent in other ways. Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, dropped his head and cried on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. 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, `And yeah, Momma, 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 Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday' — and she drowned Friday night. She drowned on Friday night," Broussard said.

"Nobody's coming to get her, nobody's coming to get her. The secretary's promise, everybody's promise. They've had press conferences — I'm sick of the press conferences. For God's sakes, shut up and send us somebody."

Hundreds of thousands of people already have been evacuated, seeking safety in Texas, Tennessee and other states. The first group of refugees who will take shelter in Arizona arrived Sunday in Phoenix. With more than 230,000 already in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry ordered emergency officials to begin preparations to airlift some of them to other states that have offered help.

What will happen to the refugees in the long term was not known.

Back in New Orleans, walk-up stragglers at the Convention Center were checked by Navy medics before they were evacuated. Lt. Andy Steczo said he treated people for bullet wounds, knife wounds, infections, dehydration and chronic problems such as diabetes.

"We're cleaning them up the best we can and then shipping them out," Steczo said.

One person he treated was 56-year-old Pedro Martinez, who had a gash on his ankle and cuts on his knuckle and forearm. Martinez said he was injured while helping people onto rescue boats. "I don't have any medication and it hurts. I'm glad to get out of here," he said.

In a devastated section on the edge of the French Quarter, people went into a store, whose windows were already shattered, and took out bottles of soda and juice.

A corpse of an elderly man lay wrapped in a child's bedsheet decorated with the cartoon characters Batman, Robin and the Riddler. The body was in a wooden cart on Rampart Street, one shoe on, one shoe off.

Rene Gibson, 42, driving a truck while hunting for water and ice, said people are not going to leave willingly. "People been all their life. They don't know nothing else," he said.


Amid the tragedy, about two dozen people gathered in the French Quarter for the Decadence Parade, an annual Labor Day gay celebration. Matt Menold, 23, a street musician wearing a sombrero and a guitar slung over his back, said: "It's New Orleans, man. We're going to celebrate."

In New Orleans' Garden District, a woman's body lay at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Magazine Street — a business area with antique shops on the edge of blighted housing. The body had been there since at least Wednesday. As days passed, people covered the corpse with blankets or plastic.

By Sunday, a short wall of bricks had been built around the body, holding down a plastic tarpaulin. On it, someone had spray-painted a cross and the words, "Here lies Vera. God help us."







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