'Whole City Is Really Shut Down'

As if Hurricane Katrina didn't do enough damage in Louisiana, Hurricane Rita added insult to injury by creating even more headaches for the badly battered state.

Lake Charles, La., Mayor Randy Roach The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, "There are no services here. There is no water, there is no electricity, there is no gas, there is no food. You can't flush. You can't — we can't even supply our hospitals. The whole city is really shut down."

"We've got our public works crews out, the National Guard is here from Oregon," he says. "We've got two battalions out in different communities throughout the area, cleaning up the streets. So things are under way. The response has been tremendous. I really appreciate everything the federal government has done to help us."

Roach credits an early and widespread evacuation with saving lives.

"We started at 4 in the morning on Thursday," he says. "We got up with a bulletin from the weather service here that the storm had changed course. We got together at 5, (and) … officials made the decision to (have a) mandatory evacuation. We started that process at 10, and by 10 that night, we'd evacuated over 5,000 people in FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) buses, and then we continued throughout the night and by noon on Friday we had evacuated 500 critically ill patients out of the hospitals."

Roach says that Lake Charles will be without power "for quite some time. We were talking with the (power company) officials last night. They indicated we have two main transmission lines that feed the city. Both those lines are down. … Without power, no water. Without water, you know what goes on from there."

He says that residents should steer clear of Lake Charles until officials give the green light for them to return.
  • Brian Dakss

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