Mel Gibson as ‘Mad Max’ in ‘The Road Warrior’ (Warner Bros.)

The devastation, chaos and mayhem embracing post-Katrina New Orleans has led one eyewitness reporter to describe it as a scene straight out of the apocalyptic movies that launched the career of one of Hollywood’s hottest stars.

“It’s almost like a ‘Mad Max’ scene,” Steve Harrigan of Fox News reported, referring to the violence-packed Mel Gibson action films in a post-nuclear disaster world.

Medical workers and patients ride in the back of a military vehicle as they are evacuated yesterday in New Orleans. (courtesy: New Orleans Times-Picayune)

For instance, Harrigan reported he saw people with automatic weapons driving around the flooded streets in pick-up trucks in broad daylight, just like something out of the “wild West.”

During his broadcast, shots could be heard in the background, a building was burning and people on the street were carrying knives and other weapons.

In “The Road Warrior,” the most violent of the Mad Max trilogy, the plot surrounded a shortage of gasoline, referred to as “the precious juice,” just as the U.S. is facing fuel shortages in some areas now.

Meanwhile, companies of National Guard troops continued to pour into the beleaguered city, as state and local officials continue to beg for help to control looting and other violence. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has asked the federal government for 40,000 troops, and she says they “know how to shoot to kill … and I expect they will.”

President Bush, himself upset with the pace of relief efforts, said the overall response by the government so far was “not acceptable.”

“It’s as if the entire Gulf Coast were obliterated by the worst kind of weapon you can imagine,” Bush told reporters.

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich also offered criticism of the administration.

“I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can’t respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we’re prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?” he said.

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