Tourist Hire Buses for Own Evacuation, Government Commandeers Them for Residents

Stranded tourists in New Orleans paid $25,000 for private buses so they could be evacuated from New Orleans.

After waiting hours, they learned government officials had commandeered their buses to evacuate others.

“We’re the forgotten about,” Dewey told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. “The Louisiana officials are trying to get their people out. They don’t care about us.”

Dewey, 23, of Washington, is one of countless tourists trapped in the city amid the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

Dewey said she has no idea when or how she’ll be able to leave, her best chance lost Wednesday night when she learned the buses would never come.

Hotel staff encouraged guests steal to survive…

The hurricane hit Monday. The flooding and looting began Tuesday. By Wednesday, Dewey was stealing to eat.

She said hotel staff encouraged guests to loot a nearby store for food, so that’s what Dewey and her boyfriend did.

“I had Power Bars, I had nuts because there were a couple (hotel) rooms open, and we raided their mini bars,” Dewey said.

That day, police went door-to-door to order local residents out of the hotel and to the New Orleans Convention Center, Dewey said.

The handful of managers left at the hotel told guests they had booked 10 buses for $25,000 to evacuate them and those from the Crowne Plaza Astor Downtown. Each passenger paid $45. The hotel staff began lining up elderly and ill people outside about 7:30 p.m.

“I couldn’t count how many wheelchairs you saw,” Dewey said.

The guests waited until 9:30 p.m. when a manager told them the buses were confiscated by the military.

Also planning to leave on one of the buses was Bill Hedrick, a Houston oilman, and his family, including his mother-in-law, who uses a walker.

“We kept hearing they were coming, they were coming,” he said. When the crowd learned the buses would never arrive, “everyone was totally stunned,” said Hedrick, who moved on to the convention center.

Dewey said she was ordered to head to the convention center.

Who’s going to help the tourists? What happens to the $25,000 they raised for their private buses? Just two more questions to add to the mix…

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About Pamela Leavey

Pamela Leavey is the Editor in Chief, Owner/Publisher of The Democratic Daily as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Pamela holds a certificate in Contemporary Communications from UMass Lowell, a Journalism Certificate from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Digital Age Communications from UMass Amherst UWW.
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20 Responses to Tourist Hire Buses for Own Evacuation, Government Commandeers Them for Residents

  1. If you haven’t seen it on MSNBC. Click on the video “Despair and Anger” on the right
    Olbermann and Matthews had a few clips from it on their shows. It shows the horrible situation of a large number of law abiding well behaved citizens, who followed the instructions to flee to the Convention Center. They have been abandoned by the government there since the hurricane struck and are in a desperate situation, older people and babies dieing. It is not easy to watch.

    Of course when I got home I flipped on Faux to check their coverage. What I saw for the breif period I could was either: Showing black people still in the flooded city streets while talking about looters etc. Pictures of groups of people already evacuated showing nice food being cooked for them and happy children. Of course one “reporter” also asked another “reporter” something like “Some people saying the Bush admin is not doing enough”. Then the other reporter could repeat McClellan press BS from earlier today “This is no time for partisan politics etc we need to all pull together again. Later we can look back and determine how things can be handled ever better in the future” Translation, yeah of course the Bush admin failed again and is making excuses for their polices and incompetence. After this is over, we can as usual give Bush a pass and then blame Clinton, and of course Democrats and liberals in general.

  2. kj says:

    Dave, if I hear the word “unity” ….. >:-|

    There was so-called (although not from me) “unity” after 9/11… then again for the 2002 elections. This is NOT the time for unity, or pulling together as Americans, or any of that claptrap.

    This predicted catastrophe can not be re-framed or re-dressed or re-rhetoriced or re-spun in ANYway to even slightly re-whitewash the misAdministration of GWB.

    Any Democratic who doesn’t stand up right now and call this for what it is… is a coward, plain and simple.

    And I’m not usually this black and white. Today, yes. Black and white. This is a catastrophe that was preventable. As was 9/11 and the War in Iraq. There is no third pass.

  3. Ron Chusid says:

    Bush screwed up badly after 9/11 but was given a free ride by the media. I don’t think he can do this again. With this catastrophe we see the consequences of the Bush policy of dismantling much of the government to pay for tax cuts for the ultra wealthy and for his invasion of Iraq. I always knew that sooner or later we would pay for Bush’s follies.

  4. kj says:

    Ron, in GWB’s speech today (while he was supported on one side by two former presidents), he mentioned twice that I remember about government “doing its part” and the private sector doing their part. I’m sure he didn’t have anything like a 50-50 split in mind.

    Also, just saw that the Astrodome, filled now with approximately 5,000 people, is turning away folks who have just traveled 12 hours in a bus (one at least with no airconditioning) because they’ve just now discovered that they can’t hold the 20,000-25,000 people after all. Whoops. Slight miscalculation.

    I’m half asleep, more like 3/4 asleep, so hope I got that information correct.

  5. I’m so disgusted with this President, his admin, the GOP, any idiot and/or a-hole who actually voted for Bush in 2004(for the love of God how can anyone be that stupid or hate this county that much!) and the MSM who have done everything they could do for 5 years to help elect Bush in 2000 & 2004 and covered up, spun, smeared for and lied for him.

    I’m too to disgusted to even rant, other than that one long run on sentence. And I will just end by saying I will never forgive the people above for what they have done to my country and its people. I hate them, HATE them!

  6. KJ

    Tell me this isn’t true about the Astrodome…

  7. Dave

    I’ve been uttering the same words all day… I hate them, I hate them. I don’t even like to use that word hate, I use the F word more than the hate word, but I do hate them!

    This is utterly the most inexecusable mess and they are the poorest, filthiest, rottenest excuses for leaders… I hope to God(dess) that AMERICA WAKES UP!!!!

  8. Teresa says:

    I’m in despair. That this game can be allowed. I feel like I’m in a fantasy horror movie. Absolutely no one in the government is taking responsibility for this country and the people and media continue in this charade.
    Don’t they understand that they can all be the ones left to die by these people? Where are there heads?

  9. Teresa

    I hear you. I’ve been ranting and crying for 2 days now. I saw this coming on Monday. I knew it would be bad, worse than bad… and everyone went about their business the idiot in chief acted like fool on the hill.

    I am deeply saddened. It’s time to hold this administration accountable. Millions homeless, perhaps thousands dead (no doubt), diseases will run rampant in the young and old exposed for days, the environment in the areas affected will ever be the same — oil, chemicals, human waste…

    They have no heads, they have no cares, they have no compassion, they have no souls.

  10. Teresa says:

    What ever in the world can we do, Pamela? I don’t want to live in a country like this. The image of that man strumming his little guitar while his country was being attacked and flooded, is burned in my mind. Why aren’t people reacting more against him? It seems like self preservation would motivate them. I’m absolutely horrified and it takes a lot since I am fully aware of how bad human behavior can get. Everyone seems to be wandering around like zombies.
    What can we do?

  11. Teresa

    I don’t know… I really don’t. I posted a piece above about the refugees and their future. Dateline says 3/4 of million people are on the move tonight, displaced from Katrina. It’s mindboggling and heartbreaking.

    People do seem to be reacting. Some are speaking out, as the days go by we will hear more I believe. Right now I think we all need to pray for miracles.

  12. Teresa says:

    I’m on my knees, Pamela.

  13. kj says:

    I’m listening to Miles O’Brian on CNN this morning, and yes, they’re reporting that the fire marshal is saying the Astrodome is no longer open. It is filled to capacity with 12,000 people.

    Read that the WH is pulling out the “don’t play politics card.” Hey, we’ve already been branded “anti-American” and every other label Rove could dream up. I didn’t care what they called me then and I don’t care now.

    Dems better a sense of the pulse of America. We lay this in Bush’s lap.

  14. kj says:

    I mean, seriously, I think this is the revolution. And it IS being televised.

  15. Teresa says:

    You might be right, kj. The WH is deliberately doing this. I think they are trying to incite race riots that will continue so they can institute martial law throughout the country. Their lack of movement is so eerie. I don’t know what planet I’m on right now.

    Or they could just be totally self destructing. It’s definitely a psychotic moment.

  16. kj says:

    Teresa, just in for a quick lunch. I saw on CNN’s home page that Bush called the federal response “not acceptable.” By saying that, he took the high ground.

    I’m sick to my stomach that my man did not heed the words that were sent his way yesterday… to take the opportunity last night and denounce the failure of moral leadership that allowed this catastrophe to happen. Now, it’s too late. Bush has stepped up to the plate because Karl Rove saw the handwriting on the wall and acted before any Democrats did. Good lord, when will we learn to move and move fast? Where is our pivot? Have we lost that ability?

    This ISN’T about politics. It’s about incompetance. And that’s what needed to be said, last night, by at least one Democrat. It wasn’t said. I’m really not happy about that.

    #%$#@ Bush White-Wash #1400 is in full operating mode.

  17. You said it KJ! And Teresa and Pamela!

  18. Teresa says:

    Kj, don’t despair. There is a reason we are abandoned now. We have to learn and we have to be entirely on our own for the moment. We, the people are taking care of our own and when this is over we will get to work on the government. There will be a lot of speaking up in the near future. It’s too soon and shocking right now and there is rescue to attend to.

  19. kj says:

    Teresa, I think you’re right. We are going to have to take care of not only the people of New Orleans, but everyone affected along the Gulf Coast. And I mean everyone and everything. If ever there was a time for Americans to step up and take care of their own, this is it. And it will take years. The soul of New Orleans will be absorbed into the rest of the country as we do this work and then when New Orleans is re-built, it will belong to all of us as well. The blues were born in this country. It’s time we all claim, and identify, with that birthright.

  20. Donnie From Houma, LA says:

    I think I can shed some light on the situation with the tourist, the buses, the convention center, and the fact that they were overlooked. Please take time to let this sink in, and remember that I live in southeast Louisiana. Before I tell this tale, just remember who Michael Brown is! Michael Brown just came out and said that they had just learned about the plight of the people at the convention center. It has been reported that FEMA comandeered the buses from Crowne Plaza Astor Downtown, and told the people to go to the convention center. Look back and see when the buses were taken. Now see when Michael Brown said he just found out about those people that day!! These people had to walk and try to find shelter, and when trying to cross a bridge to get to the westbank, police fired warning shots because another group was causing a threat to the cops. The Tourist were then forced to band together and fend for themselves and be faced with sleeping in the streets. The people ened up at the convention center were they were told to go, yet days later, Michael Brown has the audacity to say he just found out about these people. How can FEMA comandeer private buses that were purchased for $25,000 by the hotel and the individuals, tell them to go to the convention center, and yet not know they were there? Michael Brown and FEMA that he heads, dropped the ball, and let this happen. Don’t think for one minute, that the real story won’t be told to the world. It just happens to be, that one of the people forgotten about at the convention center, was a Spanish Diplomat, who was the first to be taken out under the protection of Guard units that went directly to the diplomat and escorted them out under the watching eyes of a camera and the people there.