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Society and Community:
Katrina: The Response
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Town Hall Participants

NOW on PBS will devote all if its programs in September to covering Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The coverage includes a special one-hour broadcast on September 16, entitled "Katrina: The Response." That program, taped at WLPB, the PBS station in Baton Rouge, gathered an audience of citizens, experts and officials to concentrate on the rapid response failure and the challenges ahead. See what is on the minds of the experts, government officials, and the people who lived through Katrina below.

State Senator Walter Boasso, St. Bernard Parish:
When it came, the food, water, and ice...I wanted to personally escort it there... Well, at six o'clock, no food, no water, no ice...I got food, ice and water on the side of the interstate here in Baton Rouge at four o'clock in the morning. And I had to personally bring it down here myself, because we wouldn't have had nothing to work with.

Jinika Brazile, evacuee. Ms. Brazile is the niece of Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign:

A lot of the people that I've talked to — some of the older people who have lost a lot, they don't want to come back. But, the younger people, Jeffrey and myself, we do want to come back.

Phil Capitano, Mayor of Kenner, Louisiana:

They had no logistics. They had no game plan. They had no concept. I will tell you that to this day I'm still waiting for help from my citizens...Now, how did Wal-Mart manage to get truckloads of water, truckloads of food to my community when others were still trying to decide where they were going, what they were gonna do and how they were gonna do it?

Runice Governale, evacuee. Ms. Carenali was separated from her children during the crisis. The family is now in a shelter:

A lot of people are gettin' restless staying there. They're waiting and waiting and trying to get help. And when you turn to people to ask for help, nobody knows anything. We going in circles, and we're not gettin' any answers from anyone.

Alexis Duvall, Head of the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce, Ms Duvall testified before the Senate about saving wetlands and shorelines last week:

We have suffered the most massive land loss in the whole United States. That marsh absorbs the water. That marsh, as it deteriorates, can absorb less and less. So, that storm surge will just grown and come inland more and more. So, if we don't address the coastal restoration issues, then communities like Orleans and St. Bernard and will just continue to be at risk.

Allan Eskew, New Orleans architect:

When we really start talking about re-inhabiting New Orleans, I think we have to re-inhabit it in a little different way. And, hopefully those of us who are professional planners and designers — all of us that come to the table to work will work with a sense of social justice because we have to bring our neighborhoods and our communities back. It's not bricks and mortar. It's neighborhoods. And, we have to bring 'em back neighborhood by neighborhood.

Marlin Gusman, New Orleans Civil Sheriff:

New Orleans had its share, and probably more than its share of poor people. People that were denied access into the-- real riches of our economy in America. But, that's part of our challenge, you know? Part of our challenge is not to put things back just the way they were. We want to make things a lot better.

Kip Holden, Mayor of Baton Rouge:

We had practiced what we needed to do in case there was a major emergency. So we were in touch with everyone, and we supplemented the state resources to try to make things happen. But no idea in the world did any of us have that we would see a hurricane of this magnitude.

Mitch Landrieu, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana:

But generosity is fleeting, and it will dissipate as the country moves on to other issues, like nominating a Chief Justice and affirming one for the Supreme Court or the next tragedy. We're all still gonna be here. And what we in this state need is for the American people to remember that we are part of America. We're an American city.

Dr. Fred Lopez, Associate Director of the Medical Center of Louisiana, Charity Hospital, New Orleans:

Can you imagine patient who's been with you for five days who's waiting for hemodialysis or other medical interventions [and] you are unable to provide despite having the knowledge and the capability to do it, being restricted by virtue of a lack of power or a lack of resources? And looking them in the face and telling them that you can't provide them something and you can't even tell them where they'll be headed once they leave the hospital?

Nick Miller, Head of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans:

I'd like to comment about the discussion on whether or not-- the city can be rebuilt. And, I think that's absolutely ridiculous. That's a question now only of will and money. And, hearkening back to World War II, this country rebuilt 130 some odd cities that we had destroyed all over Germany and Japan. And, we did it in six years...This is just a question of will and money.

Deacon John Moore, blues musician:

I'm concerned about the arts and entertainment industry because we are the backbone of the tourism industry. I'm concerned that the culture has been dispersed all over the country and we need a plan to get these people back...When are these people gonna come back? A lot of them, you know, they don't have the financial means to come back.

Steven Perry, President of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau:

We have right now an opportunity to be a living laboratory for urban revitalization. We could not have done that if it had been a larger city like a Chicago or a Dallas or-- Houston. But New Orleans is small enough to serve as a model for how do we reconstruct neighborhoods, drive neighborhood redevelopment with schools and healthcare clinics and day care as well as the business side.

Joseph Picciano, Federal Emergency Management Relief Administration (FEMA): Mr. Picciano has been with FEMA since 1979:

I've been in many disasters in the World Trade Center to hurricanes and different parts of the country. I have never seen anything like this and I notice the number of people talked about the scope of this event. I have never, never seen anything this size. I mean, it just pushed our resources to the end.

Dr. Raoult Ratard, Louisiana State Epidemiologist:

The main concern now is that you have thousands of people together. You have the right set-up for large epidemics to happen and so we try to watch and intervene immediately.

Bertha Rideau, evacuee from St. Bernard Parish. Ms Rideau left before the storm and evacuated to Shiloh Missionary Baptist church in Baton Rouge:

I think if the Corps of Engineers and the other people up in Washington knew about these levees...this should have been taken care of a long time ago. And, I don't see why we can't live where we've been living just about all our lives.

Isaac Scott, evacuee:

It was a horrific reckoning on a lot of people and I really don't think people are looking into the future of what are they gonna do. You've got estranged and alienated families all over the place. And you saw what occurred when people panicked. What is gonna happen when they begin to get restless again when the handouts stop?

Joe Smith, evacuee. Mr. Smith's brother is immobilized by sickle cell disease. The spent several days on the top floor of a school in New Orleans before being rescued from the roof:

I put him up on my shoulder, and I climbed up on the ladder while he held on. And this is how we got up to the roof. We stayed up there about three hours before they picked us up.

Dr. Duane Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of Charity Hospital:

One hundred percent or probably 98 to 99 percent of the medical records other than those that were in use at the time are under water and have been for over two weeks.

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