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Tourists say they were an afterthought

NEW ORLEANS -- Managers at two French Quarter hotels teamed up to hire 10 buses to carry their 500 guests to safer ground, but federal officials commandeered the vehicles and told the guests to go to the convention center with other evacuees, one of the managers said.

''We kept hearing they were coming, they were coming," said guest Bill Hedrick, a Houston oilman who was with family, including his mother-in-law, who uses a walker.

He said he and the others had paid $45 a seat. When the crowd learned the buses would never arrive, ''everyone was totally stunned," Hedrick said.

Hedrick, who had moved to the New Orleans Convention Center along with Ambros and many of the other guests, had harsh words yesterday for city officials, who he said were focused on helping residents. ''The tourists here are an afterthought," he said.


Evacuees have to leave their pets behind

NEW ORLEANS -- At the front of the line, the weary evacuees waded through ankle-deep water, grabbed a bottle of water from state troopers and happily hopped on buses that would deliver them from the Superdome.

At the back end of the line, people jammed against police barricades in the rain. Some evacuees passed out and had to be lifted hand-over-hand overhead to medics. Pets were not allowed on the bus, and when a police officer confiscated a boy's dog, the child cried until he vomited. ''Snowball, Snowball," he cried.

Miranda Jones was carrying her father's ashes -- the only thing she and her mother were able to save from their house.


Cheering crowd greets group of retired veterans

WASHINGTON -- The cheering started as soon as the buses rumbled up the driveway of Washington's Armed Forces Retirement Home. Military officers and enlistees mixed with civilians in a two-sided receiving line, waving small American flags and clapping for the elderly veterans who had survived World War II, Korea and, now, Katrina.

''Welcome to D.C.! Welcome to your new home," said Rochelle Jones, a staff member for the US Army Community and Family Support Center in Alexandria, Va. Stepping forward, she enveloped Jim Holder in a hug.

''Oh, honey, I love you," said Holder, who wore a light shirt, khaki shorts, white socks, and black loafers, and clutched a plastic shopping bag stuffed with a few belongings.

Jones hugged harder. ''I love you, too," she said.

Holder was one of about 415 veterans evacuated from the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina flooded the ground floor of their quarters Monday, leaving them without electricity or running water.

More than 250 evacuees arrived just before noon yesterday at the leafy, landscaped campus of their sister home in Northwest Washington, exhausted from a trip that stretched across two days and several states.


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