August 31st, 2008
11:46 PM ET

Getting the homeless out of New Orleans

Abbie Boudreau
CNN Special Investigations Reporter

Scott Zamost
CNN Special Investigations Producer

As Hurricane Gustav took direct aim at New Orleans, social workers and homeless advocates spent the last few hours before the evacuation deadline looking for the homeless.

Early Sunday morning, Mike Miller from the group Unity of Greater New Orleans was clambering into abandoned buildings, looking for signs people had been sheltering there.

“Watch out for the nails,” he warns as he steps inside.

Miller says that there are more than 71,000 abandoned and blighted buildings in New Orleans and many have become shelters for the city’s homeless. He says that since the homeless don’t have TV, radio or newspaper subscriptions, word of mouth is the only way to warn of the imminent storm.

“How do you find those people, how many of those people will be missed? Miller asks. “Is that the kind of thing you can only count after a body toll?”

In building after building, Miller shouts inside, but gets no answer.

Under a bridge, he finds one homeless man and warns him that the last bus will soon be leaving the city.

“I’ll be there,” the homeless man promises.

“Beautiful,” Miller responds.


Filed under: Hurricane Gustav
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Annie Kate

    I've wondered about the homeless too and how they would find out about the evacuation and how many would show up. Sounds like the majority of the "visible" homeless left which is a good thing. I am still stunned that NOLA is going to get hit again with a big storm – I hope the levees hold.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 1, 2008 at 8:03 am |