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…