Angela Jenkins screams ‘help us, please’ as Katrina survivors crowd the New Orleans Convention Center Aug. 31 (courtesy: New Orleans Times-Picayune)
The Louisiana Department of Homeland Security blocked a vanguard of Red Cross trucks filled with water, food, blankets and hygiene items from bringing relief to the thousands of hungry and thirsty evacuees stranded in the New Orleans Superdome after Hurricane Katrina struck, according to a Fox News Channel report.
The state agency responsible for Louisiana’s security “told the Red Cross explicitly, you cannot come,” said Fox News reporter Major Garrett in a radio interview.
Garrett told nationally syndicated talk host Hugh Hewitt that according to the Red Cross, the delivery was blocked immediately after the storm passed Monday.
The Louisiana governor’s office of Homeland Security explained to the Red Cross that they didn’t want the relief supplies, because they wanted the evacuees to leave, according to Garrett.
“At the very moment that Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans, was screaming where’s the food, where’s the water, it was over the overpass [nearby], and state officials were saying you can’t come in,” Garrett said.
Garrett acknowledged that floodwaters made access to the Superdome and nearby convention center difficult, but he pointed out that supplies could have been delivered before the levee broke. After that, the National Guard or military could have assisted.
In addition to its determination to remove the evacuees from the Superdome, the state also told the Red Cross the toxic floodwaters were not safe and they did not have the security situation under control.
Garrett said the decision was made and communicated to the Red Cross by the state department of Homeland Security and the state National Guard, both of which report to Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
The Red Cross has posted a “Disaster FAQ” on its website which explains, “Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.”
The private charity says, “The state Homeland Security Department had requested — and continues to request — that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.”