Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bogalusa "Has Returned 'to the Stone Age'"

BusinessWeek details the plight of "Katrina's 'forgotten,'" the hundreds of thousands "in the counties and parishes of southern Mississippi and Louisiana," where "the damage and desperation are also heart-wrenching."

In these outlying areas, such as Washington Parish's Bogalusa and Angie:

Help here is still arriving in a trickle. A lone Army National Guardsman in full flack jacket stands watch with an M-16 at the Bogalusa Medical Center in Bogalusa, La., 70 miles north of New Orleans.
. . .
On the ground, it's clear why some hamlets not far from the rattling helicopters and mass evacuation of the Big Easy aren't yet on the rescue map. Angie, La., is nothing more than a crossroads, a poor town 80 miles north of New Orleans. Street signs nearby read: "Prison area. Do not pick up hitchhikers."

A lone barbecue restaurant is surrounded by fallen trees. The Angie Farm & Garden Supply store offers crickets and minnows for sale to local fisherman, but it's shuttered.

The people here are hurting. On Saturday, Sept. 3, the Washington Parish sheriff's department handed out its first batch of water and ice in a week. Cars, tractors, and four-wheelers flocked to the cow trailer parked at the Angie Fire Station.

Cindy Varnado, who's living in a double-wide trailer with 14 people from four families, has been scrambling for supplies all week. She drove to Baton Rouge for gas, to Covington, north of New Orleans, for bread, and now snatches a case of water and four ice bags in Angie. "It's ridiculous," she says. And it's not going to get any better soon. Varnado's husband, a land surveyor, got word on Friday, Sept. 2, from his boss that there won't be any work for weeks, if not months.

What's the feeling among the locals, alone and without supplies for the last week? Like "catching hell," says Darrin Dixon, who works at the local paper mill. He doesn't expect power for six to eight weeks -- and probably no work, either. Angie's water and ice supply was brief. It ran out in an hour.

There are a number of places in rural Mississippi covered as well, some nearly a hundred miles inland from the coast. Go read the whole thing.

Then ask yourself: Why hasn't FEMA cleared the way to get help to all these people? It's been eight days since Katrina cleared the area.


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