God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Sunday, September 4, 2005

In Valley of Despair, Troops Are Ray Of Hope

Lock & Load...

The soldiers, members of an elite Special Response Team from the Louisiana Army National Guard, were the first convoy out of what is rapidly becoming a massive military staging ground. Their mission, simply, is to turn New Orleans into a police state--to "regain the city," said 1st Sgt. John Jewell.

The truck lurched through the streets, past buildings burning unabated. When they stopped to gear up for their arrival at the New Orleans convention center, where more than 15,000 people have been living in squalor since Hurricane Katrina hit early last week, the order came at the intersection of Poydras and Carondelet Streets: "Lock and load!"


Frankie Estes, 80, said she was glad to see the troops. It was a glimmer of hope. Friday marked her fifth night sleeping on the sidewalk in front of the convention center.

"I haven't had food or water for three days," she said. "I didn't know if I was going to make it."

By Friday night, dinner had been served to an endless line of refugees. Helicopters had begun airlifting the most critically ill. The soldiers had found their mission. It just wasn't what they thought it was going to be.


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