A pastiche made entirely of phrases from The Wenatchee World newspaper, August 30, 2005 through September 16, 2005 [Permission for reprint was granted by newspaper staff.]
Day One (Tuesday)
- Hurricane Katrina, 145-mph winds
- a break on a levee
- pumps not working
- problem could be solved within hours
- Canal street a canal
- clumps of red ants floated in gasoline-fouled waters
- “Water pushed all the doors open and we swam out.”
- “Cars floating around us. We had to push them away when we were trying to swim.”
- Bush will cut his vacation two days earlier than planned.
- people stranded on rooftops and attics
- too late to leave
- An elderly woman trapped in a nursing home called and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday.”
Day Two (Wednesday)
- looters ransacked stores for food, clothing
- agency having trouble getting sandbags to the site
- Pentagon began sending four Navy ships with drinking water and other supplies
- “We have dead bodies in the water.”
- refugees will travel in a bus convoy to Houston starting today
- Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide 475 buses
- electricity could be out for weeks
- Bush flew over disaster area
- An elderly woman trapped in a nursing home called and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday.”
Day Three (Thursday)
- 90% of homes under water
- “We are out here like pure animals. We don’t have help.”
- corpses lay in the open
- evacuees were dropped off and given nothing
- drinking water gone
- sidewalks packed with people without food, water or medical care
- thousands outside for days, waiting for buses that did not come
- pumps, canals are 19th-century technology
- pumps aren’t working and canals have leaks
- Katrina tore his clothes off
- 485,000 ordered out of town
- electrical power gone
- to pump the flooded city dry is a question of having electric power
- official could not say when two generators would arrive
- sewage service gone
- “We’re doing it as fast as we can.”
- U.S. 90 bridge over the Bay of St. Louis destroyed
- Bush will tour the region on Friday
- An elderly woman trapped in a nursing home called and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday.”
Day Four (Friday)
- National Guard arrived today with food, water and weapons
- “Time has run out. Can we survive another night? Who can we depend on?”
- chemical explosion at a warehouse
- second large fire erupted
- Hand ventilation for oxygen patients was necessary. “We’re bagging them by hand; we have been doing that for two and a half days.”
- Sewage backed up in all the sinks; the basement morgue underwater; power failed; water took out the generators, then the emergency backup; new patients turned away.
- Woman came from nursing home. Hospital could not help her. Her body remained in a body bag in the emergency room days later.
- “Get off your asses and let’s do something.”
- police officers turned in their badges
- old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in grassy median
- old woman lay dead in her wheelchair
- another body lay beside her wrapped in sheets
- people at hotel arrange the hiring of 10 buses to evacuate 500 guests, $25,000
- FEMA commandeered the buses
- no meals distributed
- water, food held up miles from the Coast, as trucker squeeze through few open roads
- “Help us!”
- survivors picked through piles of rotting garbage for food
- 11,000 evacuees, the Astrodome full
- An elderly woman trapped in a nursing home called and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you on Friday.”
Day Five/Six (Saturday and Sunday)
- Where was the National Guard? Congress will investigate.
- Bush had the legal authority to order the National Guard himself
- 50,000 people trapped for days at two filthy, sweltering buildings
- dead man lay on sidewalk with a stream of blood running down the pavement
- National Guard arrives in force
- people look for food and water, turned back by a soldier who pulled a gun
- first truck caravans of water and food arrived Friday
- 50 nations pledged money or other assistance
- 100,000 evacuees fled to Houston
- “Houston shelters are full. Go to Dallas or San Antonio.”
- 15,000, Astrodome full.
- Postal Service established Astrodome address: Gen Delivery, Houston, Texas, 77230
- New Mexico governor offered help. Paperwork didn’t come from Washington until Thursday.
- Wisconsin governor took unusual step of declaring a disaster outside his state to activate his Guard.
- Officials had an action plan if a major hurricane hit. They didn’t execute it.
- “If I leave this [his tuba] I might as well jump in the water myself.”
- “This was home. The only things I have now are my dog and my pigeon.”
- An elderly woman trapped in a nursing home called and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” She drowned Friday night.
Day Seven (Monday)
- half-million people dispossessed
- dusk-to-dawn curfew
- makeshift tomb: “Here lies Vera. God help us.”
- no flood insurance
- two in 10 households had no car
- 25% below the poverty line
- 60% of the 700,000 people were minority
- 12% were single-mother households
- police shot and killed at least five people
- two officers took their lives, including the department spokesman
Day Eight (Tuesday)
- congress returns from its August recess today
- one million people forced from their homes
- major levee finally plugged
- 60% of the city was under water
- When a helicopter arrived to pick them up they were told to send the children first and that the helicopter would be back. The helicopter didn’t come back.
- 220 children missing
- “We’re eliminating as much red tape as humanly possible.”
- “This doesn’t happen in your own back yard.”
- “It’s like Baghdad on a bad day.”
- Guardsman, “If we’re out on the streets, we’ll fight back and shoot until we kill them. That’s too bad, but that’s what has got to happen.”
Day Nine (Wednesday)
- Ordered all 10,000 residents still in this ruined city evacuated–by force if necessary.
- “There are dead babies tied to poles.”
- corpses decaying in the 90-degree heat
- water full of debris, there are screens on the pumps
Day Ten (Thursday)
- raw sewage flowed into city neighborhoods
- black water streaked with oil
- cars lay on roofs and in treetops
- A dead man face down on the top of a car floating in water. Body bloated in the sun.
- disasters good for business
- one million people homeless and out of work
- people struggling to get food, water and medicine
Day Eleven (Friday)
- A Mexican military convoy of 47 vehicles, doctors and dentists arrived.
- The first time Mexican soldiers have operated north of the Rio Grande since 1846.
- 200 Mexican soldiers were unarmed
- corpse-strewn floodwaters
- holdouts did not want to leave their pets
- Bush declared that the United States would get past these difficult days.
- 400,000 homes without power
Day Twelve/Thirteen (Saturday/Sunday)
- corpses lie submerged beneath a toxic gumbo
- Brown’s résumé discrepancies, not incompetence, led to recall
- Emergency planners pored over charts of a hurricane simulation [Hurricane Pam]. Yearlong project to prepare officials for a Category 3 hurricane striking New Orleans. Hurricane Pam report did not predict that levees would break.
Day Fourteen (Monday)
- death toll 197
- an insurance agent was able to rescue two National Guard soldiers who had driven their 5-ton military truck in four feet of water.
- toxic gumbo: grease and gas from up to 350,000 vehicles; raw sewage; bleach and cleansers from the pantries of 160,000 flood-damaged homes
- 50% remains flooded
- brew that covers New Orleans is brightened by rainbow petroleum slicks
- 20 million tons of debris left behind
- four of his seven cats floating dead in the kitchen
Day Fifteen (Tuesday)
- death toll 280
- died while waiting
- Bush, “I take responsibility.”
- Katrina forced 372,000 school children to flee
Day Sixteen (Wednesday)
- death toll 659
- A human foot was visible through the front window of a locked home.
- FEMA ordered searchers NOT to break into homes. They are supposed to look in through a window and knock. If no one cries out, they move on.
- He broke the rules and ordered his men to bash open the door. An unconscious and emaciated man, 74, was rescued, was breathing.
Day Seventeen (Thursday)
- death toll 710
- Senate rejected a proposal to examine what went wrong
- Brown, criticizing Louisiana, “I never received specific requests for specific things that needed doing.”
Day Eighteen…Day Eighteen Hundred…
Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons/NASA Goddard Space Flight