September 4, 2005

Louisiana official haunted by drowned woman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A New Orleans official was overcome
by emotion on national television on Sunday when describing how
a woman was abandoned and eventually drowned after repeated
promises she would be rescued.

"The guy who runs this building I'm in, the emergency
management, who's responsible for everything. His mother was
trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called
him and said are you coming, son, is somebody coming," Aaron
Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, said as he burst into
heavy sobbing on NBC's Meet the Press program.

"And he said 'yeah mama, somebody's coming to get ya,
somebody's coming to get ya on Tuesday, somebody's coming to
get ya on Wednesday, somebody's coming to get ya on Thursday,
somebody's coming to get you on Friday.'

"And she drowned Friday night, she drowned Friday night.
Nobody's coming to get us."

"Nobody's coming to get us, nobody's coming to get us,"
Broussard said through tears.

Broussard, president of the parish just south of New
Orleans, did not give the woman's name.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina "will go down as one of
the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in
U.S. history," he said.

Local and federal officials said they expected to find
thousands of corpses still floating in flood waters or locked
inside homes and buildings destroyed by the devastating storm
that struck the U.S. Gulf Coast last Monday.

Broussard said the government must acknowledge the part it
played in senseless deaths.

"It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New
Orleans," he said. "Bureaucracy has committed murder here in
the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand
trial before Congress now."

He demanded congressional hearings on what went wrong in
the chaotic aftermath of the hurricane.

"They've had press conferences. I'm sick of press
conferences. For God's sake, shut up and send us somebody."