The number of officers called off the search-and-rescue mission amounts to virtually the entire police force in New Orleans.
Amid the turmoil Wednesday, thieves commandeered a forklift and used it to push up the storm shutters and break the glass of a pharmacy. The crowd stormed the store, carrying out so much ice, water and food that it dropped from their arms as they ran. The street was littered with packages of ramen noodles and other items.
Looters also chased down a state police truck full of food. The New Orleans police chief ran off looters while city officials themselves were commandeering equipment from a looted Office Depot. During a state of emergency, authorities have broad powers to take private supplies and buildings for their use.
Managers at a nursing home were prepared to cope with the power outages and had enough food for days, but then the looting began. The home’s bus driver was forced to surrender the vehicle to carjackers.
Bands of people drove by the nursing home, shouting to residents, “Get out!” Eighty residents, most of them in wheelchairs, were being evacuated to other nursing homes in the state.
“We had enough food for 10 days,” said Peggy Hoffman, the home’s executive director. “Now we’ll have to equip our department heads with guns and teach them how to shoot.”
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