Mothers scrape out their babies' nappies so they may be used again.
A woman cries as she tries to assist the elderly lady she cares for
At the New Orleans' Superdome stadium, refugees describe piles of faeces, knee-high, after the toilets overflowed and people were forced to relieve themselves on staircases.
At least seven bodies are scattered outside the city's convention centre.
People sheltering at New Orleans' main refuges say they have been robbed of their humanity.
"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at a woman who lay dead in her wheelchair outside the convention centre.
"We pee on the floor. We are like animals," 25-year-old Taffany Smith told the Los Angeles Times, cradling her three-week-old son in the Superdome stadium.
Up to 20,000 refugees from the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina have been corralled into each building.
This is where they were told to come, but the authorities were woefully unprepared for the arrival of such numbers, who include the very young, the very old, and the very infirm.
For days they have been without adequate electricity, sanitation, or food supplies waiting to be taken from what many describe as a scene from hell.
All who have been inside the Superdome speak of the pervading stench of human waste.
Amid the deteriorating conditions at both refuges, horrific stories are emerging.
At the Superdome there were two reports of rape, one involving a child, while police at the convention centre said there had been similar reported incidents.
Others described what it was like to live among the dead.
"We got dead bodies sitting next to us for days. I feel like I am going to die. People are going to kill you for water," Thomas Jessie, a 31-year-old roofer, told the AFP news agency after spending the night in the convention centre.
Keep on coming
And the slow evacuation has only contributed to tensions. The head of the city's emergency operations, Terry Ebbert, warned it had become an "incredibly explosive situation".
"This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace," he said.
Heat and exhaustion proved too much for some in the queue
At the Superdome, fighting and gunshots broke out in the long desperate line of people waiting for the chance to board one of the school buses deployed to take them away.
Medical evacuations from the Superdome on Thursday were temporarily disrupted after a gun shot was fired at a rescue helicopter.
Meanwhile people continued to arrive, many wading through water to get there. Their homes destroyed, they have nowhere else to go.
By Thursday evening, 11 hours after the evacuation began, the stadium had 10,000 more people than it did at dawn.