Sandra, Ged and Ronan Scott of Liverpool, England, recount horror in New Orleans after Katrina (courtesy Liverpool Daily Post)
Female survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans were urged by government rescuers to flash their breasts in order to receive help in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
That according to English tourists who are now just returning to the United Kingdom, relating their horror stories to British media.
Ged Scott, 36, of Liverpool, was on his annual vacation at New Orleans’ Ramada Hotel with his wife Sandra, 37, and their 7-year-old son, Ronan.
“I could not describe how bad the authorities were, taking photographs of us as we are standing on the roof waving for help, for their own personal photo albums, little snapshot photographs,” Scott told BBC News.
Scott said there was a group of girls standing on the lobby’s roof, calling out to passing rescuers for help.
“[The authorities] said to them, ‘Well, show us what you’ve got’ – doing signs for them to lift their T-shirts up. The girls said no, and [the rescuers] said ‘well fine,’ and motored off down the road in their motorboat. That’s the sort of help we had from the authorities,” he said.
New Orleans is noted for women flashing their breasts in public, especially during the annual Mardi Gras festival.
Scott called the relief operation “horrendous,” noting police officers had taken “souvenir” photographs of stranded people begging for help.
“The only information we got from anybody in authority was if a policeman came past and we shouted to them out of the windows. The only information we ever got off them was negative, ‘Do not go here. Do not go there’. There was no, ‘Are you OK? Are you safe? Have you got water?’ Most of the time they would ignore us.”
Scott recounted that at night, police completely vanished, leaving stranded hotel guests and staff to defend themselves.
“You would hear shots ringing out during the night and that was one of the most worrying things, because we had no security,” Scott said. “We patrolled the halls and checked the doors throughout the night in the hotel – but if someone had wanted to come in, there was not much we could have done about it.”
Scott waded through waist-deep water to barricade the hotel’s doors.
“It was like wading through an open sewer,” he said. “It reeked to high heaven and made you want to vomit. Outside I could see bodies floating in the water.”
He says looters actually tried to sell the Ramada’s guests stolen cell phones, radios and clothing.
The guests were finally rescued by Louisiana game wardens, who entered the hotel with rifles and fixed bayonets.
The family is back safe in England, but Scott says he worries about the psychological impact on his young son.
“He was fantastic – but he has been exposed to things no 7-year-old should ever see, and it is bound to come out in the future.”