This is from a friend of mine, an ex London cop flying a helo in NO.
Quick update as to goings on here ...
Two weeks after the storm and still attached to the
Army Corps of Engineers and Boh Brothers. Major plan
in effect to repair the damaged levees and they are
doing a good job on the large breaches that get all
the TV coverage (17th St Canal, London Avenue canal,
Chinooks and Blackhawks picking up and dumping 6 to
8000lb bags of sand/limestone into the breach and
then the dozers push rock and dirt over the top
sufficient to drive vehicles across. I spend a lot of time
flying in these areas and constantly have to be aware of
these large helos as the downwash below and behind
can really affect my smaller machine.
Spent 2 days flying a medic around dispensing
vaccinations to various response personnel. I was
his first patient so I got my Hepatitis A and B, along
with Tetanus/Diptheria as well. Not that I had any
plans of wading through the water but you never
A large US Military transport rolled in to New
Orleans and offloaded eight OH58 Kiowa helicopters.
(You may have seen them in Iraq war tv footage -
they have a big 'ball' above the rotorbades). They use
these equipment-laden machines for spotting targets
in the battlefield but they have heat seeking/thermal
gear on board so it is believed they went into town
at night trying to pinpoint the bands of armed
thugs/looters roaming. Ranger units were inserted on
the ground with night vision goggles and I think
they had pretty specific orders .... We'll probably
never hear the full story of this.
Things have definitely calmed down here with respect
to people shooting at aircraft and personnel.
Soldiers and outside police agencies are here securing the
city. A third of the NOPD never came back to work so
that was a blow that disaster strategists probably
never accounted for. Two are definitely known to have committed suicide.
The water level has started to drop almost
Not by much in some places, maybe a foot or so 2
weeks after the storm, but it's a start. With the
temporary pumps now installed better progress will be made. Of
course, the sludge left behind will be another
nightmare to be dealt with as a major fuel spill
into the equation has left a mess.
Thankfully it appears that death toll here will not
be as catastrophic as once feared so that is something
to be grateful for. Unsupervised, and it seems,
abandoned elderly folks in hospitals and nursing homes have
become casualties that have attracted a lot of
attention from the authorities and I guess some
people are going to find themselves in some pretty hot
water over their actions or inaction.
I spent yesterday flying south down the Mississippi
river to inspect the levees and pump stations. The
river is held at bay by man-made levees but they
weren't high enough to withstand this Cat 4/5 storm.
There must have been one hell of a tidal surge that
came racing up the river because it just poured
right over the top and turned the small communities either
side into driftwood.
Towns like Homeplace, Buras,
Venice, Boothville, Triumph, Port Sulphur just got
wiped out. If it didn't smash the houses to pieces
it just picked them up off their foundations and
carried them away leaving behind total flooding and
destruction. Quite a sight.
President Bush was in town yesterday but I was able
to continue to fly despite the TFR (Temporary Flight
Restriction) imposed on the region. Although I had
permission from the controlling P3 Orion above, I
always had one eye open for the patrolling fast jets
'protecting the area' with orders to shoot down
aircraft busting the airspace!
There is a conspiracy theory doing the rounds on the
internet claiming that the Army Corps of Engineers
blew some of the levees a day after the storm in
to save the city/business district and sacrificed
the poor neighbourhoods - a reckless and unhelpful thing
to do especially since many will believe it and take
it as gospel truth.
So that's the latest from here. Not sure how much
longer I will be needed up here as access to areas
is improving. I may stay a while to assist power
companies doing their surveys but we will see.
Hope all is well with you all.
"Try not to think about dying, that might make you nervous."