Rescuers: Boat operation suspended; Thousands still Stranded

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- As police and National Guard troops struggled to restore order Thursday in New Orleans, emergency teams suspended boat rescue operations because conditions in the flooded city were too dangerous, rescuers said.

The instructions to stand down came during a meeting with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

CNN's Rick Sanchez reported that authorities were concerned for the rescuers' safety because some people have become violent toward the rescuers.

He said officials were trying to figure out how to safely resume rescues.

Troops and police have been working to evacuate tens of thousands of people, who are growing weaker and more desperate each hour. (Watch report on the desperate conditions at the convention center -- 2:54 )

Thousands of people have been sleeping on streets, interstate access ramps, bridges or any dry spot they can find.

Outside the New Orleans Convention Center, a huge crowd waited on the sidewalks for aid that could be a long time coming. The building was used as a secondary shelter when the Louisiana Superdome was overwhelmed.

CNN's Chris Lawrence reported that conditions inside the building were appalling -- a number of bodies were visible, including a baby.

"We are out here like pure animals. We don't have any help," Rev. Issac Clark told the Associated Press.

That there were also bodies outside the building and that no one had come to collect them

As reports indicated a mounting death toll in New Orleans, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said that "we understand there are thousands of dead people" in Louisiana, according to media reports.

Evacuation points swamped with people
A Louisiana National Guard official told CNN Thursday morning that between 50,000 and 60,000 people had converged at evacuation points near the Louisiana Superdome hoping to get on one of the buses out of town.

"It's no longer just evacuees from the Superdome, as citizens who were holed up in high-rise office buildings and hotels saw buses moving into the dome, they realized this is an evacuation point," Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard said.

He said there were reports that several small trash fires were burning around the building and firefighters were having a hard time reaching the area. (Watch report on violence delaying evacuation -- 1:51)

Houston has offered to house about 25,000 people in the Astrodome. San Antonio, Texas, has agreed to take another 25,000 people, officials said Thursday. Schneider said that officials were looking for additional locations.

Widespread looting and random gunfire have been reported across the city. Police told CNN that groups of armed men roamed the streets overnight.

Officers told CNN they lacked manpower and steady communications to properly do their jobs -- and that they needed help to prevent the widespread looting and violence now prevalent in the city.

Police also told CNN that among the first items looted from stores in the area were guns -- and that officers followed behind with looting of their own, taking whatever ammunition was left to keep it off the streets.

A police officer working in downtown New Orleans said police were siphoning gas from abandoned vehicles in an effort to keep their squad cars running, CNN's Chris Lawrence reported.

The officer said police are "on their own" for food and water, scrounging up what they can from anybody who is generous enough to give them some -- and that they have no communication whatsoever. Police also told CNN they were removing ammunition from looted gunshops in an effort to get it off the streets.

Communication has been almost non-existent and officers have had to siphon gasoline out of abandoned vehicles, police officers said.

President Bush, in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," said that their should be "zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this."

He promised a rapid federal response to the disaster.

Pentagon officials said Wednesday the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi have ordered the mobilization of an additional 10,000 National Guard troops to provide security and help with hurricane relief. (See video on Pentagon response -- 2:14)

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday that she was "just furious" about the lawlessness.

"We'll do what it takes to bring law and order to our region," she said.

The head of Acadian Ambulance Service, Richard Zuschlag, said Wednesday that a generator was stolen from his command center and an ambulance was tipped over as his workers tried to evacuate hospitals. (Full story)

"Things are not good in New Orleans. It's very serious now," Zuschlag said
Its appalling that in just a few days, this is how bad civilization can crumble. I understand that many of the people remaining in the city are the impoverished.

Like I said in another thread: "Its kind of Ironic, America bankrupts its social systems to fight its was on terror, when Mother Nature can come along and do more damage in one day then a terrorist cell could wish to do in a life time."
This is a wake up call to everybody in the free world .People need to stop relying on goverment and start looking out for themselves .I got a few more things to get and my family wiil be ok to ride out a disaster like this one One thing every house should have in a emergency is a portible gravity fed water filter .You can live for a long time without food but you die quick without water
Jo Canadian

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