More than 10,000 Louisiana residents poured into the Superdome overnight to take refuge from Hurricane Katrina. The city administration did an admirable job of providing basic security for some of the area’s neediest residents, even providing busing to take people to the Superdome.
The stories of the fleeing residents, however, paint the picture of an America where many people struggle. As Treasury Secretary John Snow noted recently, the fruits of economic growth are not being shared equally. In New Orleans, many such low wage earners have congregated at the Superdome. Their stories reveal the conditions faced by the poor in America:
Americans Living Paycheck to Paycheck
“If I hadn’t had to work last night, you wouldn’t be seeing me here,” said Arthur Simpson, 46, an Uptown resident who left his job as a printer in Harahan on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. and headed north.
Fending For Themselves
“The people arriving on this side of the building are expected to fend for themselves,” said Terry Ebbert, the city’s homeland security director.
Waiting In Line For Basic Services
They were the poor, homeless, frail or forgotten, those without the means or inclination to go anywhere else. They waited in blocks-long lines outside the massive indoor football stadium. Once inside, they were told, they couldn’t leave, possibly for days.
Families Dependent on Gov’t Assistance
“No funds,” a 41-year-old woman surrounded by four children, ages 2 to 14, said when asked what brought her to the shelter. The woman didn’t want to give her name as she waited with stacks of bedding and a few children’s toys resting on the sidewalk.
“I know they’re saying ‘Get out of town,’ but I don’t have any way to get out,” said Hattie Johns, 74. “If you don’t have no money, you can’t go.”