Katrina & Beyond

Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish Desperate for Help

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As Hurricane Katrina laid waste to much of the Gulf Coast region, the death toll continues to rise. Those left behind are desperately trying survive and be ushered to safe grounds. Just east of New Orelans is rural St. Bernard Parish. It was almost totally flooded. In Chalmette, more than 1,000 refugees are huddled on a pier waiting to get to safety.


Just east of New Orleans is rural St. Bernard Parish. It was almost totally flooded. In the little town of Chalmette, hundreds and hundreds of refugees are huddled on a pier waiting to get to safety, as NPR's Greg Allen reports.

GREG ALLEN reporting:

Much of Representative Charlie Melancon's 3rd Congressional District now lies underwater. Many of his constituents live in small towns that were flooded Monday when some of New Orleans' levees gave way. Melancon says some of his constituents are waiting for rescue at the Chalmette Slip, a boat dock and one of the few dry areas left since Hurricane Katrina. He went out there Thursday after hearing of deteriorating conditions there. He said a ferry is supposed to take the evacuees to safety, and it sits idle because there's no captain. And meanwhile, stocks of food and drinking water are running low.

Representative CHARLIE MELANCON (3rd Congressional District): The only thing those people on that dock have is hope. They're there with dead bodies, not the ones they dragged out of the street--dead bodies of people that have died since they've been there, waiting to be evacuated. One man had a bag in his hand, and I heard somebody say, `Is that your lunch?' And he says, `No, that's all I own.'

ALLEN: There are stories like this throughout New Orleans of people who are stranded, wondering when someone will come. But on Chalmette Slip, 1,500 people have been waiting for three days now. And Melancon says while they've been waiting, more than 100 have succumbed to the difficult conditions.

Rep. MELANCON: Dehydration, exhaustion; some of them may have had heart attacks. You know, we don't have any coroner's reports; they're just dead.

ALLEN: Yesterday Melancon says a barge showed up and ferried some 300 people a few miles across the river to Algiers Landing(ph), depositing them on a levee where buses were supposed to pick them up and take them to safety. But many, he says, are still waiting.

Rep. MELANCON: Some of them have been sitting on that levee for a while. There were, like, 150 people, I'm told, that were on the levee that had been there, I think, overnight. Whether they're still waiting at Algiers Landing, I don't know.

ALLEN: Charlie Melancon says St. Bernard Parish officials gave him a list of things the people on the slip need while they wait for their turn for rescue. He's a soft-spoken man who showed up at the command center in Baton Rouge yesterday to talk with those in charge of relief efforts. He says he's not leaving today until he gets the people waiting in Chalmette everything that's on that list. Greg Allen, NPR News, Baton Rouge.

MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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