Guest blogged by David Edwards
New Orleans ex-mayor, Sydney Barethemly, pleads with President Bush to allocate the resources to save New Orleans and make it a safe place once again. He says that the president must focus and make saving the city and the 80,000 trapped people a priority. He believes that if we do this on the President's schedule then it may be too late.
BARETHEMLY: ...We really need the President of the United States to make this a priority. We have to stop the breeches in the levy. We have to or we're going to lose New Orleans and lose thousands of people there. I believe that there are about 80,000 people trapped in the city right now and if we don't solve this problem, we will lose those people.
SOLEDAT: But the Army Corp. of Engineers, they're working on it. We spoke to them this morning. It seems that they are doing everything that they can do. What more should they be doing? What else can the President do?
BARETHEMLY: He can send the Army to help and resolve this. 3000 new troops are coming in. That's not enough. We did everything possible to help the people who were suffering from the tsunami. We have to make this a priority. We have to send the Army to stop this or we will lose New Orleans and we will lose 80,000 people, I believe.
SOLEDAT: [New Orleans] ...It sounds like a lot of elected officials are frustrated at and a lot of lack of coordination. There are no cell phones. It, also, seems like on that front there was no plan either. Who is in charge?
BARETHEMLY: Soledat, I think it's just overwhelming. I have to believe that the official are doing now all that they can do. They are using as many resources as they have. That's not enough. The President of the United States is the only person who has the resources to coordinate to bring in the troops to make this city a safe place, to solve the breeches in the levy. They're losing hope. Everything they're doing, the problem is not getting better; it's getting worse.
SOLEDAT: The President would say, listen, "We declared a disaster area before the storm even hit. I'm coming on Friday to take a look at the devastation in the region. What else do you want?"
BARETHEMLY: Friday may be too late, Soledat, we don't have that time to wait. We need him now. To send the troops now. If we can spend the monies we are spending to help the people in Iraq then we can do the same thing for New Orleans. This is a great country, we have tremendous resources. We have to make this a resolve because if New Orleans goes, it's going to have a devastation impact, not just on the people that live there, but on the rest of this nation.
SOLEDAT: Can we take a few minutes and talk about the Superdome. We've got about 20,000 angry, hot, tired, underfed people in disgusting conditions, I think it's fair to say. What should be done with them? The governor says we need to get them out now but the plan seems to be busses. I don't know how the busses will get out of the city. What do you do with them?
BARETHEMLY: Again, Soledat, that you have to send the resources in. The governor wants to do the right thing. She wants to evacuate. The mayor wants to evacuate. They do not have the resources. I don't know how you say that to the federal government: "This is a national disaster. We must save those people and save that city. That means sending the military in right now! We can't wait. We got to send the military in now who have the resources to save this city and save those people down there who are trapped!"
Video from CNN American Morning (Windows Media)
To find more information about the organizations that are coordinating efforts for New Orleans, Democratic Underground has provided an excellent list of Hurricane Disaster Relief Resources.