Like something out of Bosch:
The sick and the disabled were the first to be led out. But late Wednesday afternoon, as the slow evacuation of the Superdome began, it was not always easy to distinguish them from the rest of the 20,000 or more storm refugees who had steeped for days in the arena’s sickening heat and stench, unbathed, exhausted and hungry.
* * *
They had flocked to the arena seeking sanctuary from the winds and waters of Hurricane Katrina. But understaffed, undersupplied and without air-conditioning or even much lighting, the domed stadium quickly became a sweltering and surreal vault, a place of overflowing toilets and no showers. Food and water, blankets and sheets, were in short supply. And the dome’s reluctant residents exchanged horror stories, including reports, which could not be confirmed by the authorities, of a suicide and of rapes.
* * *
By Wednesday the stink was staggering. Heaps of rotting garbage in bulging white plastic bags baked under a blazing Louisiana sun on the main entry plaza, choking new arrivals as they made their way into the stadium after being plucked off rooftops and balconies.
The odor billowing from toilets was even fouler. Trash spilled across corridors and aisles, slippery with smelly mud and scraps of food.
* * *
It got worse. Ms. Rousell recalled hearing a loud bang Tuesday afternoon as the body of a man slapped the concrete at the edge of the football field in a fatal suicidal plunge, after he apparently learned that his home had been destroyed. Others told of fights that broke out in food lines, and of a husband and wife who slugged each other in a wild argument.
Several residents said they had heard of children being raped, though it was not clear whether anyone reported such incidents to the authorities, and no officials could be found who could confirm the accounts.
Darcel Monroe, 21, a bakery cashier, stammered hysterically as she recounted seeing two young girls being raped in one of the women’s bathrooms. “A lot of people saw it but they were afraid to do anything,” she said. “He ran out past all of us.”
And what CNN is reporting (via Atrios) is even worse:
We’ve just gotten word that there are many, many dead bodies, and while they were there they even saw a baby die.
I’m just glad that Jonah Goldberg was able to get a chuckle out of the whole thing back on Sunday:
ATTN: SUPERDOME RESIDENTS [Jonah Goldberg]
I think it’s time to face facts. That place is going to be a Mad Max/thunderdome Waterworld/Lord of the Flies horror show within the next few hours. My advice is to prepare yourself now. Hoard weapons, grow gills and learn to communicate with serpents. While you’re working on that, find the biggest guy you can and when he’s not expecting it beat him senseless. Gather young fighters around you and tell the womenfolk you will feed and protect any female who agrees to participate without question in your plans to repopulate the earth with a race of gilled-supermen. It’s never too soon to be prepared.