Paul Harris, 9/7/05
Paul Harris, San Diego, 9/7/05
I would estimate that there were 10,000 people inside the Dome by the time the hurricane was supposed to hit Monday morning. Everything seemed orderly. Someone made an announcement Sunday evening about meals being served by section. In the crowd were many people who looked like they might have been homeless, and lots of families with children. Ethnically, the crowd was probably about 75 to 80 percent black, 15 to 20 percent Anglo and 5 percent “other.” People seemed to be getting along fine and integrating well. [...]
Food-line waits grew to two to three hours long. There was little control over them, and shoving matches broke out. There were some people who were the scum of the earth inside that Dome, sure—but the vast majority were good, law-abiding, caring individuals of all nationalities and races. Still, we all knew we had to get out of there soon—we were going stir crazy.
The toilets had all filled up with waste. I do not exaggerate when I say that all toilets on the first and second floors were overflowing with fecal matter. Urine permeated the floors and was tracked up and down the hallways by thousands of people. Elderly people and families with young children were forced to sleep for days on cardboard soaked with urine and feces on the tile floors. What began as a place of rescue was turning into a prison. We couldn’t leave. We couldn’t escape the horrific odor of human waste that spread throughout the building. People on respirators and with asthma had to endure others smoking in the bathrooms. More people poured in to the Dome, and still no good communication other than hearsay about—what else—"the buses were on the way."