But At Least Condi Bought Some Cool Kicks

While Condi Rice was shoe-shopping, here’s what was happening with our British guests–who as guests counted on our protection (this is from Saturday, Sept. 3):

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.

Last night Peter Scott described how the family survived by locking themselves inside a tiny windowless bathroom on the fifth floor of the Ramada. ‘They were lucky that it was a substantial hotel and that they were quite high up,’ said Scott.

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. He added that conditions in the lobby were described as atrocious, with sewage up to knee level last night.

Most of those inside have not dared to venture downstairs for fear looters will spot them and ransack the hotel.

Last night victims trapped inside the Ramada were making plans to escape after food and water supplies neared exhaustion. Scott explained how they earlier ransacked the hotel kitchens for food, while water was found in its storage tank.

Isn’t this the kind of the thing a Secretary of State is supposed to deal with? (A friend of mine adds, “Ferragamos? Brunos [Magli] are much nicer.”) And Mr. Blair, how’s that whole poodle thing working for you right now?

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