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  • Tuesday, October 11, 2005


    We've Got a Story! (facts, not so much)

    Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have come and gone. What remains are the misreported facts. Although most of these corrections have gotten some play in the news, I just thought I'd recap a few of them. (mouse tip to Peek)

    From a Detroit Free Press story dated Sept. 27, 2005:
    Post-Katrina myths/facts

    1. Lots of dead bodies: Rumors and word-of-mouth reports said the New Orleans Superdome and Convention Center were sites of dead bodies galore.

    Fact: There were six dead bodies at the Superdome, four at the Convention Center. Only one of the dead may have been slain. One was a suicide; one was an overdose. The remainder died of natural causes.

    2. Killings on the streets: There were widespread reports of shootings and killings across New Orleans in the days after Katrina struck the city.

    Fact: Authorities have confirmed four murders in New Orleans in the days after the storm struck -- about average for the city. [Wordlackey comment: But that's in a city with a much reduced population.]

    3. Shooting at the Superdome: A Louisiana National Guard member was shot and wounded in an altercation with a thug inside the Superdome.

    Fact: He was shot. But he accidentally wounded himself in the commotion after an assailant hit him with a piece of metal.
    From The Buffalo News dated Oct. 3, 2005:
    NEW ORLEANS - Among the rumors that spread as quickly as floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina, reports that gunmen were taking potshots at rescue helicopters stood out for their senselessness.

    On Sept. 1, as patients sweltered in hospitals without power and thousands of people remained stranded on rooftops and in attics, crucial rescue efforts were delayed as word of such attacks spread.

    But more than a month later, representatives from the Air Force, Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security and Louisiana Air National Guard say they have yet to confirm a single incident of gunfire at helicopters.

    Likewise, members of several rescue crews who were told to halt operations say there is no evidence they were under fire.

    While I can't find a good refutation of the story that doctors deliberately gave morphine overdoses to critical patients while waiting for rescue, there are a few factual holes. One of the quoted sources, William 'Forest' McQueen, was apparently not in New Orleans at the time. There is a thread on this over on but I didn't see anything definitive in it.

    That's enough for now.

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