<\body> Stories in America: New Orleans Residents in Utah, Part IV: Reaction to the Government's Response

Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Orleans Residents in Utah, Part IV: Reaction to the Government's Response

When I interviewed people at Camp Williams on Wednesday, I didn't push the political issue because everyone I met was more interested in sharing their personal stories. They also haven't had access to news or the Internet for the past week and had no idea how the Bush administration and FEMA responded to the devastation. When I returned yesterday, I found people who are still dealing with the initial shock anyone would experience after losing their homes and community. I also found a few people who were eager to share their opinions on the government's response.

John Seal, 54

What did you think of the Bush administration's response?

If we were in Florida, Bush would have been there the same day, but Bush waited three days and a dollar late. Then he come there like he's some kind of hero. Bush ain't worth a doggone penny. I think it was mighty lowdown of him. He's been to New Orleans before. For you to leave us under water all that time, then you're gonna make like the hero, the lone ranger? Hell no. He ain't nothing in my mind. They call him Mr. President or Mr. Bush. The only thing he Mister of is his house and his wife might be wearing the pants in there. I think it was mighty lowdown of him to do the things he did.

I seen the helicopter drop a woman from the air and she fell and hit the bridge and she burst right there. For him to sit there and think he's doing us a favor; it's too late to do us a favor. He can go wherever he wants and help out. But Florida? That's his number one state besides Texas. He'll be there on the spot, but since it was Louisiana and then New Orleans is a Democrat place, he didn't give a damn cause he knows he's not running no more. He knows he can't run for nothing as long as he lives. Everybody wonders how he could drop the ball like he did. The whole United States seen this. All the foreign countries are seeing this. You could help everybody else, but you couldn't help your own people in your own backyard? You got a serious problem. How can you look at yourself in the morning and at night and call yourself the president? No way.

Tell me about your experience.

I sat there and looked at my car go underwater. Then I seen water start to come inside. We went and tore the ceiling out and took the closet doors off and put them on the ceiling so we could have something to sit on. Sitting there on the porch after the water receded and watching stuff floating around us and the water stinking was nothin' nice. And they had chaos all around us. Everybody was looting, shooting their guns like it was the Fourth of July or New Year's. It was ridiculous.

I had enough canned goods and water to keep me going, but when I started smelling the bacteria and odor, and seeing people in the water, it was time to go. A guy came and took us to the bridge and I'm looking at all the blood on the bridge from that lady. I said, Lord, if it's my time to die, God forgive me for every sin I did, but it so happens, he brought me through. Now I'm here in hog heaven. I'm on top of the world. I thought we had hospitality. We have never been treated like this before. Utah is a wonderful state. Anybody tell me different and I'll slap the taste out of their mouth. That's the way I feel about it and I'm quite sure the majority of us here feel the same way. There's been nothing but sweet love. Ain't nobody say nothin' negative. They always have a helping hand. Always trying to do something for us. Utah, y'all number one, other than New Orleans. (laughs)

What are your plans from here on out?

I don't know. I'm just taking it day by day. Ain't no need to rush into anything cause you might rush into something that you might regret. I'll let God guide me in the direction I'm going. I got family in Texas. I got family in Mississippi and I'm way up here. I'm not trying to leave here and go somewhere else while I'm getting treated like a king and go somewhere I might be treated like dirt. From what I see in Houston, I ain't got time for that. We had enough chaos in New Orleans and for us to leave here and go somewhere else, it ain't worth it. Utah, thank you. Thank the governor. President, you know what you can do. You know. And I aint' afraid of you. You went over to Iraq for bin Laden, but you turned the table to Saddam and you turned the table on New Orelans, too, so that's a wrap.

Raymond Augustus, 51
Ellis Coleman, 53

Raymond Augustus

Ellis Coleman

What did you think of the government's response?

Raymond Augustus: I don't know what to say. I forgot about Bush. I don't know what he's doing.

Ellis Coleman: This was predicted 35 years ago. They could have done something about it. I heard Bush slashed funds for the levees. Now it's too late. A disaster happened.

Raymond Augustus: The only person I appreciate is my Mayor Nagin.

What'd you think of his response?

Raymond Augustus: I thought it was great, the way he went off on Bush.

Ellis Coleman: Bush was a day late and a dollar short.

What was your experience like?

Ellis Coleman: I was stuck in my house. The water was rising. I saw people walking around with water up to their necks. It would have been up to mine if the boats didn't come by and rescue me. I saw dead people floating around. Guys looting and shooting at people coming to rescue them. They were shooting at helicopters. That shit didn't make sense. People were supposed to be helping them.

What are your plans?

Ellis Coleman: I plan on staying right here. If I can take this winter, I'll probably be here. People seem friendly. The state seems like it's family oriented and I like that about it.

How's your family?

Ellis Coleman: My family is scattered. My kids are in Wisconsin. My mom is in Houston. My brother is in Atlanta and my sister is in San Antonio. Everybody is alright.


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