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New Orleans’ leaders finally wake up…

By Brian | September 8, 2005 | Share on Facebook

C. Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, has finally decided to make the evacuation of New Orleans mandatory:

Mayor C. Ray Nagin ordered law officers and the military late Tuesday to evacuate all holdouts – by force if necessary. He warned that the combination of fetid water, fires and natural gas leaks after Hurricane Katrina made it too dangerous to stay.

I, for one, view this as a positive step. Alas, there are still issues. The military personnel have said they have no plans to use force. The National Guard has said that they don’t take orders from the mayor, which seems like an almost unbelievably blatant challenge to the governor (should we or shouldn’t we?). Local police are also hesitant to use force, hoping that the threat of force would be enough in most cases.

The article says that Eddie Compass, the police chief, is “mindful of the bad publicity that could result from images of weary residents dragged out of their homes at gunpoint.” Seriously? He’s worried about bad publicity at this point? Maybe he’s afraid the focus will come off the White House & FEMA and people will start asking him what the cops were doing in the days before the storm?

More on Eddie Compass: it seems teams of workers trying to repair cell phone towers in the area have been fired upon “on almost a daily basis.” It took “100 officers and seven armored personnel carriers [to capture] a suspect in a housing project who had been firing on workers trying to restore cell phone towers.” The police chief’s reaction?

The police chief boasted that 7,000 more military, police and other law officers on the streets had made New Orleans “probably the safest city in America right now.”

Again, I say, seriously? There are thousands of dead bodies floating in the streets. The amount of sewage-related bacteria in the floodwaters is at least 10 times higher than acceptable safety levels. Workers trying to restore basic communications are being fired upon daily. This is the safest city in America?

On the political front, more encouraging news:

Given the extent of the misery, Louisiana’s two U.S. senators — Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican David Vitter — wrote a letter to Senate leaders Wednesday urging them to put aside partisan bickering in assigning blame over the federal response and focus on providing for victims.

“Please do not make the citizens of Louisiana a victim once again by allowing our immediate needs to be delayed by partisanship,” they wrote.

It seems some folks are realizing that when placing blame gets in the way of solving the problem, it might be worth putting off the placing of blame for a while.

Maybe when all this is over, one or both of them will place a call to Messrs. Nagin and Compass.

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