British families trapped in New Orleans last night claimed that US authorities had refused to evacuate them as Hurricane Katrina approached the city.
Although assistance was offered to US residents, British nationals were told they would have to fend for themselves. According to those who remain stranded in the stricken city, police had visited hotels and guest houses on the eve of the hurricane offering to evacuate Americans, but not Britons.
The order meant UK holidaymakers without cars were left helpless in the face of the hurricane. Some have been trapped in hotels and guest houses since the hurricane struck at 7am local time last Monday.
One family from Liverpool, trapped in a flooded section of the city, told relatives yesterday of their bewilderment when they realised US citizens would be offered preferential treatment.
Gerrard Scott, 35, spoke to his brother Peter from the Ramada Hotel in New Orleans where he has been stranded without assistance with wife, Sandra, 38, and seven-year-old son Ronan for the past six days. “Those that didn’t fit their criteria were told to help themselves. The police said they were evacuating Americans, and took away the majority.
“The British who were left all thought the police would come back, but nobody has. They have just been left,” said Peter Scott last night. Among the 30 or so people still inside the Ramada Hotel is a woman recovering from breast cancer who had been confined to a hotel room by herself because of fears over her immune system. […]
Other Britons are, apparently, stranded in the hotel. However, contact with the outside world remains haphazard.
There is a payphone in the hotel lobby, but US operators have been refusing to accept collect calls from stranded Britons.
“Some of them are just hanging up even after they have explained they are trapped in New Orleans. It’s like—what emergency?” said Scott.