Superdome Evacuation Resumes

Hurricane Katrina victims wait for transportation outside the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Friday, Sept. 2, 2005. (AP Photo/The Baltimore Sun, Karl Merton Ferron) AP

Evacuations from the Superdome have resumed.

Officials had turned their attention to the New Orleans Convention Center overnight, stopping the buses running from the Superdome.

The Texas Air Force National Guard estimates between 2,000 and 5,000 people still remained at the Superdome at mid-morning.

The crowd was orderly early this morning after being told that evacuations were temporarily stalled. Those remaining at the Superdome sat down to wait.

The scene also was calm today as the remaining evacuees patiently waited in five lines for their place on a bus.

Earlier, guard members said they were told only that the buses had stopped coming and to shut down the area where the vehicles were being loaded.

"We were rolling," Capt. Jean Clark said. "If the buses had kept coming, we would have this whole place cleaned out already or pretty close to it."

Guard members reported that the massive evacuation operation for the most part had gone smoothly Friday, coming after days of uncertainty, violence and despair.

Capt. John Pollard of the Texas Air Force National Guard said 20,000 people were in the dome when evacuation efforts began. That number swelled as people poured into the Superdome because they believed it was the best place to get a ride out of town.

He estimated Saturday morning that between 2,000 and 5,000 people were left at the Superdome. But it remained a mystery why the buses stopped coming to pick up refugees and shuttle them away.

Tina Miller, 47, had no shoes and cried with relief and exhaustion as she left the Superdome and walked toward a bus. "I never thought I'd make it. Oh, God, I thought I'd die in there. I've never been through anything this awful."

The arena's second-story concourse looked like a dump, with more than a foot of trash except in the occasional area where people were working to keep things as tidy as possible.

Bathrooms had no lights, making people afraid to enter, and the stench from backed-up toilets inside killed any inclination toward bravery.

"When we have to go to the bathroom we just get a box. That's all you can do now," said Sandra Jones of eastern New Orleans.

Her newborn baby was running a fever, and all the small children in her area had rashes, she said.

"This was the worst night of my life. We were really scared. We're getting no help. I know the military police are trying. But they're outnumbered," Jones said.
  • Sean Alfano

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