St Rita's Nursing Home didn't make it

N&P: Discuss governments, nations, politics and recent related news here.

Moderators: Alyrium Denryle, SCRawl, Thanas, Edi, K. A. Pital

Post Reply
User avatar
Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger
Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger
Posts: 28902
Joined: 2002-07-06 06:34pm

St Rita's Nursing Home didn't make it

Post by MKSheppard » 2005-09-10 08:28am

St. Rita's Nursing Home didn't evacuate
12:17 PM CDT on Thursday, September 8, 2005
By KAREN BROOKS / The Dallas Morning News

CHALMETTE, La. – When St. Bernard Parish officials realized last week that St. Rita's Nursing Home had not evacuated as Hurricane Katrina bore down on the parish, they called to ask why. Their offer to send buses to help was turned down, they said Wednesday.

No one knows for sure why officials of St. Rita's, a privately owned nursing home, chose not to evacuate. On Wednesday, officials were still unsure of the number of people who died there, but previous estimates put the toll at 30 or more.
Katrina's Aftermath

"This is the worst thing I've ever seen, and I drug bodies to the levee after Hurricane Betsy," said 60-year-old Raymond Couture, one of the rescuers searching St. Rita's this week.

This suburban parish a few miles from downtown New Orleans was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding. Officials have estimated that the parish's death toll may reach 500.

Details of what happened at the facility are still sketchy, but the descriptions of what's inside the single-story, football-field-size building horrify even hardened disaster veterans.

The body of one elderly woman, clothed in a thin housedress, was on the concrete floor of the front patio. The thin, bony body of an old man was draped over the back of a chair, where the receding waters left it. A blackened hand was sticking out from between a gurney and collapsed wall.

At least some of the bodies remained in the nursing home Wednesday because the water outside the facility had been too high for workers to bring in vehicles to remove them.

Tables had been nailed against windows and wheelchairs had been piled up in an apparent effort to keep the water out, rescue workers said.

The smell of rotting human flesh clung to clothing of searchers going through the building. The high water mark reached a foot shy of the ceiling. Six inches of sewage, mud and putrefied tissue coated the floor in a slippery, dark brown scum strewn with broken furniture, bodies and wheelchairs.

Behind each door along the darkened hallway was a nightmare scene. Bodies were found in some of the rooms. Searchers couldn't get in other rooms because doors were blocked by tangled heaps of furniture and bodies. The cursory body count was 15, with more believed there. The searchers were fearful of falling into the muck.

Outside, debris covered the roof of a Hummer sport utility vehicle, which local officials say belonged to a staffer.

Parish officials were still trying to piece together what happened.

St. Rita's had the required evacuation plan: Ambulances would be called to take bedridden patients away, and the others would be evacuated by school buses. At least 60 patients and six staffers may have been in the building when Katrina hit.

Parish coroner Dr. Bryan Bertucci said several of the parish's other nursing homes evacuated during the weekend, but St. Rita's staffers never put their plan into effect.

Sunday afternoon, Dr. Bertucci said, he checked with St. Rita's staff to see why. He said the owner, Mabel Mangano, told him she had five special-needs patients, and an ambulance hadn't come to pick them up. Officials said she also told them that she had spoken with the families of patients who said it was okay to stay behind.

"There was frustration over not having her patients out; a false sense of security because they'd never flooded before; they had generators and stuff, and it [an evacuation] tends to be traumatic for some of these special-needs patients," Dr. Bertucci said.

"She asked me if we were upset," Dr. Bertucci said. "I said I'm not on the council, I'm concerned about the patients."

Dr. Bertucci said he told Ms. Mangano, " 'We've got two buses and two drivers that'll take you anywhere you want to go. Do you want the buses?'

"She said no."

Ms. Mangano is believed to have stayed with the patients, since no one has heard from her since the storm. Attempts to reach members of her family or relatives of nursing home residents were unsuccessful.

When water started rising quickly – about eight feet in 15 minutes, according to one official – shortly after the hurricane passed though the area Monday, a handful of nearby residents went to the facility and tried to rescue patients. Lowery Ingargolio, director of emergency preparedness, said the residents knew that St. Rita's hadn't been evacuated.

Because parish officials were busy trying to shore up a shelter elsewhere, residents started rushing to St. Rita's to get the residents out. With staff members, the residents floated some of the patients – about 20 – out on mattresses to a nearby school, but "they stopped rescuing people when the water got up to the door frame," said Henry Rodriguez Jr., parish president. "They couldn't get anybody out after that."

One of those brought out of St. Rita's died on the way to the school, two died at the school and a fourth died later in the hospital, officials said.

Mr. Rodriguez said the district attorney's office should convene a grand jury to investigate what happened at St. Rita's.

When Dr. Bertucci, who has witnessed horror after horror during the last week of hurricane madness, heard what had happened at St. Rita's, he said, "That's probably the first time I cried."

User avatar
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6206
Joined: 2002-07-16 06:12am
Location: Western Australia

Post by Xon » 2005-09-10 08:45am

Holy fuck :shock:
"Okay, I'll have the truth with a side order of clarity." ~ Dr. Daniel Jackson.
"Reality has a well-known liberal bias." ~ Stephen Colbert
"One Drive, One Partition, the One True Path" ~ ars technica forums - warrens - on hhd partitioning schemes.

User avatar
Col. Crackpot
That Obnoxious Guy
Posts: 10063
Joined: 2002-10-28 05:04pm
Location: Rhode Island

Post by Col. Crackpot » 2005-09-10 08:46am

I had to stop reading for a minute, because I damn near threw up.
"A mad person thinks there's a gateway to hell in his basement. A mad genius builds one and turns it on." -CaptianChewbacca

User avatar
Chris OFarrell
Durandal's Bitch
Posts: 5724
Joined: 2002-08-02 07:57pm

Post by Chris OFarrell » 2005-09-10 08:57am

I couldn't get past the description of the hand reaching out from the pile of rubble. Its just.....

User avatar
Rabid Monkey
Posts: 12464
Joined: 2002-08-23 01:20am
Location: The glorious Sun-Barge! Isis, Isis, Ra,Ra,Ra!

Post by Coyote » 2005-09-10 12:50pm

That's why we need mandatory evacuations-- at force if need be. These people did not know what they were up against. They had weathered storms before and felt safe... ignorance and a false sense of security led them to their deaths.
Something about Libertarianism always bothered me. Then one day, I realized what it was:
Libertarian philosophy can be boiled down to the phrase, "Work Will Make You Free."

In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

If all you want to do is have some harmless, mindless fun, go H3RE INST3ADZ0RZ!!
Grrr! Fight my Brute, you pansy!

User avatar
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 26237
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest

Post by Broomstick » 2005-09-10 07:01pm

Complacency and denial:

"We've survived hurricanes before... how is this different?"

"We've never had flooding before"

The people responsible for keeping the invalids safe did not snap out of their state of denial/complacency until it was too late. I don't see it as malicious so much as human nature for some people to deny an emergency exists until it overwhelms them.

The ones I feel sorriest for are the patients who simply didn't have the physical ability required to take themselves to safety, who no doubt experienced terror and helplessness before they died.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

Post Reply