But city officials were seething with anger over what they called a slow federal response to a disaster that may have killed thousands.
“They don’t have a clue what’s going on down there,” Mayor Ray Nagin told WWL-AM Thursday night. “They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn – excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed.”
The chaos deepened despite the promise of 1,400 National Guardsmen a day to stop the looting.
New Orleans’ top emergency management official called the effort a “national disgrace” and questioned when reinforcements would actually reach the increasingly lawless city.
Col. Henry Whitehorn, chief of the Louisiana State Police, said he heard of numerous instances of New Orleans police officers – many of whom from flooded areas – turning in their badges.
“They indicated that they had lost everything and didn’t feel that it was worth them going back to take fire from looters and losing their lives,” Whitehorn said.
As he watched a line snaking for blocks through ankle-deep waters, New Orleans’ emergency operations chief Terry Ebbert blamed the inadequate response on the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“This is not a FEMA operation. I haven’t seen a single FEMA guy,” he said. He added: “We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can’t bail out the city of New Orleans.”