Hurricane Katrina

'I Need Reinforcements'

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin lashes out at the incompetence of the response to the hurricane and pleads for help.
[This is a partial transcript of an interview between WWL Radio's Garland Robinette and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Nagin gives the most candid, honest appraisal of the situation in New Orleans by any politician yet. At times pleading and often angry, Nagin's interview is a must-hear.]

Garland Robinette: What do you need, right now, to get control of this situation?

I need reinforcements, I need troops. I need 500 buses. One of the briefings we had they were talking about getting the public-school bus drivers to come down here to bus people out of here. You've got to be kidding me -- this is a national disaster, get every dog-gone Greyhound Bus Line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans!

They're thinking small, man, and this is a major, major, major deal! And I can't emphasize it enough man, this is crazy! I've got 15-20,000 people over at the convention center, it's bursting at the seams, the poor people in Plaquemines parrish, they're AirEvacing people over here in New Orleans. We don't have anything, and we're sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines parrish. It is awful down here, man!

Do you believe the President is seeing this, holding news conferences on it, but can't do anything until Kathleen Blanco requests him to do it, and do you know whether or not she has made that request?

I have no idea what they're doing, but I will tell you this: God is looking down on all this, and if they are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price, because every day that we delay, people are dying, and they are dying by the hundreds I'm willing to bet you.

We are getting reports and calls that are breaking my heart, from people saying, 'I've been in my attic, I can't take it anymore. The water is up to my neck, I don't think I can hold out.' And that's happening as we speak. You know what really upsets me, Garland? We told everybody the importance of the 17th Street Canal issue. We said, 'Please, please take care of this. We don't care what you do, figure it out.'

Who'd you say that to?

Everybody, the governor, Homeland Security, FEMA, you name it we said it. And they allowed that pumping station next to it, Pumping Station 6, to go under water. Our sewage and water board people stayed there and endangered their lives. And what happened what that pumping station went down the water started flowing again into the city, and it started getting to levels that probably killed more people. In addition to that, we had water flowing through the pipes in the city, that's a power station over there. So there's no water flowing anywhere on the east bank of Orleans Parrish. A critical water supply was destroyed because of lack of action.
[...]
In a state of emergency, you are creative, you figure out ways to get stuff done. They told me they went overnight and they built 17 concrete structures and they the pulleys on them and were going to drop them, I flew over that thing yesterday and it's in the same shape that it was after the storm hit. There is nothing happening, and they're feeding the public a line of bull, and they're spinning, and people are dying down here.
Garland Robinette is an anchor on WWL Radio 870 AM in New Orleans, Louisiana.