With few supplies coming into the seriously flooded city of New Orleans, which is now 80 percent under water after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the Gulf Coast yesterday, looters are taking matters into their own hands, hauling off food and other items from local stores.
At a Walgreen’s drug store in the French Quarter, people were running out with grocery baskets and coolers full of soft drinks, chips and diapers, the Associated Press reported. Others were floating garbage bags full of stolen merchandise in full view of National Guard personnel.
“It’s downtown Baghdad,” said Denise Bollinger, a tourist from Philadelphia who stood outside and snapped pictures. “It’s insane. I’ve wanted to come here for 10 years. I thought this was a sophisticated city. I guess not.”
According to the report, when police finally showed up, a young boy stood in the door screaming, “86! 86!” – the radio code for police – and the crowd scattered.
Fox News reported a local McDonald’s restaurant also was looted with residents stealing burger patties and buns.
Around the corner on Canal Street, the main thoroughfare in the central business district, looters waded through hip-deep water as they ripped open the steel gates on the front of several clothing and jewelry stores.
One man, who had about 10 pairs of jeans draped over his left arm, was asked if he was salvaging things from his store.
“No,” the man shouted, “that’s EVERYBODY’S store.”
He wasn’t the only one to justify the looting.
Mike Franklin stood on the trolley tracks and watched the daylight crimes go down. “To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it’s an opportunity to get back at society,” he told AP.
Said one male looter who claimed to have eight grandchildren to feed: “It’s about survival right now.”
New Orleans wasn’t the only place looters were active.
An AP reporter along the beach in Biloxi, Miss., says it “looks like a free-for-all,” as looters come running out of souvenir shops, loaded down with merchandise.