New Orleans in anarchy with fights, rapes
"This is not a FEMA operation. I haven't seen a single FEMA guy," he said. He added: "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."
FEMA officials said some operations had to be suspended in areas where gunfire has broken out.
A day after Nagin took 1,500 police officers off search-and-rescue duty to try to restore order in the streets, there were continued reports of looting, shootings, gunfire and carjackings ¡ª and not all the crimes were driven by greed.
When some hospitals try to airlift patients, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesan said, "there are people just taking potshots at police and at helicopters, telling them, `You better come get my family.'"
Outside a looted Rite-Aid drugstore, some people were anxious to show they needed what they were taking. A gray-haired man who would not give his name pulled up his T-shirt to show a surgery scar and explained that he needs pads for incontinence.
"I'm a Christian. I feel bad going in there," he said.
Earl Baker carried toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant. "Look, I'm only getting necessities," he said. "All of this is personal hygiene. I ain't getting nothing to get drunk or high with."
While floodwaters in the city appeared to stabilize, efforts continued to plug three breaches that had opened up in the levee system that protects this below-sea-level city.
Helicopters dropped sandbags into the breach and pilings were being pounded into the mouth of the canal Thursday to close its connection to Lake Pontchartrain, state Transportation Secretary Johnny Bradberry said. He said contractors had completed building a rock road to let heavy equipment roll to the area by midnight.
The next step called for using about 250 concrete road barriers to seal the gap.
In Washington, the White House said Bush will tour the devastated Gulf Coast region on Friday and has asked his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Clinton to lead a private fund-raising campaign for victims.
The president urged a crackdown on the lawlessness.
"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this ¡ª whether it be looting, or price gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable giving or insurance fraud," Bush said. "And I've made that clear to our attorney general. The citizens ought to be working together."
Donald Dudley, a 55-year-old New Orleans seafood merchant, complained that when he and other hungry refugees broke into the kitchen of the convention center and tried to prepare food, the National Guard chased them away.
"They pulled guns and told us we had to leave that kitchen or they would blow our damn brains out," he said. "We don't want their help. Give us some vehicles and we'll get ourselves out of here!"