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The Chris Chandler Show

  • New Orleans

    Escape from New Orleans

    >Our Escape from New Orleans




    >They have shut off the tap water.  They want to

    >stem disease from drinking contaminated water,

    >but at least if they gave us contaminated water,

    >we could boil it.  I feel panic welling up- why

    >didn't I fill up more jugs when we had tap water?

    >  Since the water has been on a few days, we have

    >grown complacent.  We have been taking showers,

    >so the bathtub is empty.  I feel so stupid.


    >Also, we sense that the situation in the streets

    >has deteriorated.  Fewer and fewer of our

    >bohemian friends, and people in general, are

    >left.  Sinister young men walk down these mostly

    >deserted streets.  There is an ominous sense of



    >We decide we must get out, and try to contact

    >everyone we know who owns a car, by telephone and

    >walking.  No one with a car is left in the city.

    >We decide at least to relocate to Jimmy's

    >apartment, which is more secure.   We then see

    >our new friends/neighbors, Niko, Melissa, and

    >Rarig.  They propose bicycling out of the city to

    >Baton Rouge.  It seems a ludicrous idea at first,

    >but on second thought, sounds feasible.  The

    >distance is 80 miles, and if we bring a very

    >large amount of water, we could leave early in

    >the morning and arrive in Baton Rouge by

    >nightfall.  We plan to meet at Molly's at 7am the

    >next morning to depart, a bicycle tribe.


    >Back at Jimmy's, we tell him of our intentions,

    >and he says he has heard of buses departing from

    >major hotels.  Jose and Jimmy set off in search

    >of these chartered buses, and find that the Hotel

    >Monteleone has chartered a fleet of 10 buses with

    >state trooper escort to come in and evacuate

    >their guests to Houston.  There are 200 extra

    >seats that they are selling to residents at $45 a

    >seat (at cost).  Jose on his way to pick up his

    >forgotten green card and passport passes Niko,

    >Melissa, and Rarig.  He tells them about the

    >buses and to get down there.  Back at his

    >apartment, Jimmy packs up in 15 minutes, taking

    >mostly gold.  They get in line.  I'm completely

    >tense.  Then, victory! They have gotten tickets.

    >Everyone is happy.  I'm relieved, but still

    >tense.  I won't be able to relax until we are

    >physically on the bus. The buses are scheduled to

    >arrive at 6:30pm.  Teddy, Jimmy's neighbor who

    >decided to stay, will securely bar the front door

    >to their building from the inside at 8pm.  At

    >that point, we won't be able to get back in.


    >Waiting. 6:30pm comes and goes.  7:30pm  8:30pm

    >9:30pm  waiting for the fleet of 10 buses.  It's

    >getting dark, and scary.  We have police with

    >double barrel shotguns to guard us, and protect

    >against a rush on the buses, but there are only

    >four of them.  The French Quarter is ominous at

    >night; terrifying if away from the police escort

    >with their double barrel shotguns.  At this

    >point, a cheer goes up, but instead of a fleet of

    >ten chartered buses, a single Jefferson Parish

    >school bus shows up.  The driver gets out & talks

    >with the hotel organizer.  Jose hovers around

    >nearby, discreetly listening.  The buses have

    >been commandeered by the police- the Monteleone

    >paid for them, but they have been stolen by the

    >state.  (The state says they need them to

    >evacuate the sick and elderly, but why can't the

    >state get ahold of its own buses???  They should

    >have a fleet of 100 buses taking people out, and

    >should have had that fleet by Monday night, but

    >instead they do nothing until a private party

    >takes action to help itself, and then they steal

    >the buses.)  The hotel manager is livid & angrily

    >but quietly decides to try to "negotiate" with

    >the state.  He is not letting on to the guests

    >that the buses have been confiscated- no one

    >knows except those like Jose that are discreetly

    >but actively gathering information.    Allan

    >Toussaint and his wife coolly gather their bags

    >and get on the school bus.


    >Jose speaks to the bus driver.  For $50 cash

    >each, he will take us to Baton Rouge.  I have

    >$61, Jose has $14, Kip (Jimmy's neighbor, a

    >transplant patient who needs regular dialysis and

    >is already overdue) has $20, and Jimmy has $50.

    >I ask desperately and ridiculously if they take

    >credit cards or checks.  Of course they don't,

    >and in fact they say that no one in the state is

    >taking credit cards, because of all the

    >possibility of theft.  Jose turns to me and says

    >"baby, if you want to take this bus good luck to

    >you" and I turn back "I won't leave without you."

    >  It's as simple as that.  Then, I beg.  I plead

    >with the bus driver to take us- that our friend

    >needs dialysis and that this is all the cash we

    >have.  I explain that we've already given $45 for

    >the Monteleone ticket.   He agrees to take what

    >we have and we scramble on board.  I love the

    >feel of sitting on the hard metal floor of the

    >stripped out bus.  But I'm not relaxed yet.  This

    >bus, too, could be confiscated.  (The police have

    >tried twice to confiscate his bus, but he managed

    >to escape.)   I hold my knees close, and pray

    >that we make it to Baton Rouge.  The bus creeps

    >along, silently taking back-streets out of New

    >Orleans, over the Crescent City Connection

    >(slight release of tension- we're officially out

    >of the city) and out, through back roads, looping

    >towards Donaldsville then over the Sunshine

    >Bridge and then finally onto the I-10 just before

    >Baton Rouge.   At the city, I can hardly believe

    >the familiar yet strange sight of lighted signs

    >and streetlights.  It has been pitch black in New

    >Orleans since Sunday night.  You can see the

    >stars in the sky.


    >We are dropped off at the airport.  I ask the bus

    >driver for his address, so I can send him the

    >difference.  He declines (of course; this is

    >obviously a pirated bus), and I thank him

    >profusely.  He will return to New Orleans

    >throughout the night to rescue people wanting to



    >Finally believing that we have really escaped, I

    >can sigh in exhausted relief.  The airport, full

    >of refugees sleeping on the floor, is a wonderful

    >place.  We plug in our cell phones, and call

    >Andre & Laura.  They are there in minutes with

    >their car to pick us up.   Their house is

    >luxurious, and Andre even cooks up some eggs and

    >toast, with sliced tomatoes, for us.  It is like

    >heaven to be here, truly heavenly.


    >As the stories come spilling out of us, my

    >happiness is marred only by a terrible sense of

    >sadness for the others left behind, in the terror

    >of a city steadily evacuated by bohemians and

    >working class people and taken over by criminals

    >and soldiers.  The worst are the people still on

    >their roofs, sitting there without food or water

    >for days on end, or drowning.  Also, the animals.

    >  Our neighbors, in a move of supremely cruel

    >irresponsibility, left their dog in their

    >apartment, locked in there.  They told us nothing

    >when they evacuated, did not give us a key, and

    >we had no way of getting in.  We heard the dog

    >desperately scratching against the wall on

    >Tuesday night, but were afraid to go outside to

    >do anything about it.  Wednesday, we heard no

    >more sound from him.  I feel incredibly guilty

    >for not breaking a barred window to at least give

    >him a chance to get out, in case he was still

    >alive.  I only hope that perhaps they left a long

    >term supply of food and water, and that he is

    >alive and only quiet, and will survive until they

    >get back.  I wish that I could go back, in an

    >official vehicle loaded with water and supplies,

    >to just drop off supplies and pick up people,

    >taking them back and forth to Baton Rouge.   But

    >they are letting no one in to help.  People

    >outside the city want desperately to come in and

    >rescue their friends and family members, and I'm

    >sure many are willing to drive in supplies.   If

    >the government were competent to take care of the

    >situation, then they could indeed take over.  But

    >they are NOT.  (It is just one example that they

    >can't get their shit together to get their own

    >buses, just confiscating the buses of those who

    >are more competent than they.)  They NEED to LET

    >PEOPLE BACK IN so they can help the residents

    >trapped in the city.