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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
City mayor blasts relief response
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin at a press conference on 27 August before Hurricane Katrina hit

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has blasted the federal authorities for failing to respond fast enough to the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina.

Clearly angry and emotional, he told a local radio station he had seen little of the resources he had been promised to deal with "a national disaster".

"Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here - they're not here," he said.

"So get off your asses and let's do something and let's fix the biggest... crisis in the history of this country."

Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city
Mayor Ray Nagin

In a lengthy interview with WWL-AM, he said he had heard of people trapped in their attics close to death and similar other stories "that are breaking my heart".

"God is looking down on all this and if [the federal authorities] are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price," he said.

"Because every day that we delay people are dying, and they're dying by the hundreds, I'm willing to bet you."

Bush tour

He dismissed suggestions that there may have been delays because requests for federal aid had to come from the state governor and authorities.

"We authorised $8bn to go to Iraq, lickety split. After 9/11 we gave the president unprecedented powers, lickety split, to take care of New York and other places," he said.

Flood victims walk the street in front of the Convention Center in New Orleans, 1 September
Tens of thousands of people have been stranded for days

"Now you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique... that you can't figure out a way to authorise the resources that we need?"

He went on: "I don't know whose problem it is, I don't know whether it's the governor's problem, I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their asses on the plane and sit down the two of them and figure this out, right now."

"This is ridiculous. I don't want to see anyone doing any more goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city and they come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops which we can't even count."

President George W Bush, under fire for being slow to react to the crisis, landed in Alabama on Friday for the first leg of a tour of the blighted areas.

Mayor Nagin said he had told the president that simply "flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice".


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