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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 September 2005, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
The grim journey to find survivors
Gavin Hewitt pulls a boat carrying hurricane survivors, New Orleans

Rescue boats are patrolling New Orleans searching for pockets of survivors still waiting for help.

The BBC's Gavin Hewitt travelled on one boat around the flooded streets.

New Orleans is still a city of countless human dramas and tragedy.

We brought our own boat and headed into residential neighbourhoods.

It is a grim journey, where bodies float uncollected in the water.

We were asked to go to a house where there were children without their mother.

A young survivor
Five children have been left without their mother
We pull the boat to the door. Inside a daughter explains how her mother could not breathe.

"She needed oxygen to breathe - but she don't have any," she says.

In a back bedroom we find her mother dead.

There are five children - a neighbour insists they cannot stay in the house in the heavy heat. We agree to take them out in our boat.

They say little, not even to the neighbour, as we help them with their few possessions.

It seems quite incredible to me that we are the only boat in a neighbourhood like this. In almost every street that we have gone into, there are people like this family with so many needs.

We take them to a flyover where large numbers of people are still being evacuated.


For the children this is at least a place of safety, but bewildering and uncertain.

We couldn't leave her - that's our mother
Katrina survivor
We head back into submerged streets. In the tight roof space of a house, we find Bradley and Stanley De Penious.

Dangling in a makeshift sling just above the water line is the body of their mother.

They have been living like this for five days, unwilling to leave her.

"We couldn't leave her - that's our mother," one of the men says.

"She couldn't swim."

A rescue unit uses an axe to smash its way through the roof to save the two men.

Nearby is the Kelly family, marooned, still staying on, stubborn.

'Help me'

They are frightened to leave because they fear they will be held in a stadium in squalor.

One woman is six months pregnant and like so many they are angry and outraged.

Gun patrol
Doctors say there were more guns than medics on patrol

And nearly a week on, up unlit stairs, it is easy to find pockets of the vulnerable, like a 95-year-old woman we saw with a "help me" sign in her window and one bottle of water.

Sometimes more than 40 helicopters hover above the city still rescuing people.

They are highly visible but do not explain, for instance, why high wheeled vehicles have not been driven into these more accessible neighbourhoods.

When the authorities do come to these streets, it is more often in pickup trucks with guns.

"There are a lot more cops and guns than doctors," Greg Henderson, a doctor, said.

"For a long time, I'm sorry to say that I was the only doctor down here in central New Orleans."


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