As flood waters slowly receded by the inch Tuesday, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin authorized law enforcement officers and the U.S. military to force the evacuation of all residents who refuse to heed orders to leave the dark, dangerous city.
Nagin’s emergency declaration released late Tuesday states that those who can be compelled to leave include people who are on private property or just don’t wish to flee, unless they have been designated by government officials as helping with the relief effort. The move comes after some citizens informed authorities who had come to deliver them out of New Orleans that they would not leave their homes and property.
While acknowledging that the declaration had been made, police Capt. Marlon Defillo said when contacted late Tuesday that any forced removal of citizens had not yet begun. He said that those who were visiting homes were still reminding people that police may not be able to rescue them if they stay.
“That would be a P.R. nightmare for us,” Defillo said of any forced evacuations. “That’s an absolute last resort.”
Repeated telephone calls to Nagin’s spokeswoman, Tami Frazier, were not returned for comment.
ME: A. You’re worried about P.R. nightmares? We’re talking lives in many if not most of these cases, right?
B. You’re way beyond P.R. nightmares.