A young Briton trapped with his fiancée in the stadium telephoned his father
yesterday and pleaded to be rescued, saying that they were in "dreadful
Mark Graydon, 26, had described to his father John Graydon how the stadium,
a makeshift home to about 30,000 evacuees from the hurricane, including a
group of about 30 Britons, was being run by local mafia. He said that his
American fiancée, Gretchen Heiserman, had been threatened with rape.
"He told me he was very concerned about his life and his girlfriend's"
said John Graydon from Stanford-le-Hope in Essex, "He said: 'Dad, you
have to get us out of here'. He is desperate. They are being seriously
Mr Graydon's father added: "He and Gretchen are surrounded by bullies,
the local mafia huge threatening men who seem to have taken over the
running of the place. There are rumors a couple of women have been raped
and he is scared for Gretchen. It's like a scene from Mad Max in there. One
man has been beaten up brutally. There are also reports of bodies inside."
Marisa Haigh, 23, a student from Guildford in Surrey, had managed to contact
her parents to tell them that she had been told by the US authorities she
would soon be evacuated. She described how conditions were "appalling"
But last night the New Orleans Superdome was all but emptied of people as
the thousands who had been forced to spend the past week huddled in
festering conditions were put on to buses and driven out of the city.
They left behind a scene unimaginable to anyone who had previously visited
the Dome, or indeed any other sports stadium. Noxious, flooded and littered
with endless piles of debris, it was obvious how unpleasant the past week
must have been.
Upon entering the doors, one was greeted with a toxic blast of air, but
inside it was far worse.
Others told of violence, fights, and sexual assaults even one man who
committed suicide. "There has been no medicine for anyone", said
Yesterday afternoon people were crowded under the blazing sun as members of
the National Guard escorted them on to coaches outside the building.
Meanwhile, in Baton Rouge, Teresa Cherrie, 42, from Renfrew in Scotland,
telephoned her daughter, Nicola Cherrie, 21, to tell her she was alive, but
stuck on a roof with 10 other refugees, and had had to resort to looting in
order to eat. Her daughter said: "She said they had a tin of ravioli
and a packet of biscuits for their dinner tonight. They've had to loot
supermarkets for food and scavenge what they can."
The Foreign Office said they had sent a team to Houston to help British
embassy staff to identify Britons who had been evacuated from New Orleans.
© 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.