Last refugees leave Superdome | VailDaily.com

Last refugees leave Superdome

Mary Foster

NEW ORLEANS – The last 300 refugees in the Superdome climbed aboard buses Saturday bound for new temporary shelter, leaving behind a darkened and stinking arena strewn with trash.The sight of the last person – an elderly man wearing a Houston Rockets cap – prompted cheers from members of the Texas National Guard who were guarding the facility.”I feel like I’ve been here 40 years,” said Louis Dalmas Sr., one of the last people out of the arena. “Any bus going anywhere – that’s all I want.”Inside and outside the Superdome – including the concourse around it and a 50-yard bridge that connects it to a shopping center – was a sea of garbage up to 5 feet deep.Among the food wrappers, abandoned shopping carts and upturned chairs were personal items, including wedding albums, clothing, toys, a PlayStation console, and a doll.Jessica Montgomery left behind a suitcase and a pillow case full of mementos. “I wanted it, but I just couldn’t carry it any farther,” she said.Capt. Joe Haines said the final day of evacuations went according to plan. The dome’s 10 acres was next to be searched to ensure there are no bodies beneath the trash, while cleanup crews are to rake away the piles to discourage rats.Tina Miller, 47, had no shoes and cried with relief and exhaustion as she left the Superdome and walked toward a bus. “I never thought I’d make it. Oh, God, I thought I’d die in there. I’ve never been through anything this awful.”In addition to five medical patients who had to be carried out, several of the final refugees smelled of alcohol after having apparently scavenged liquor bottles from the debris. One man was led away in handcuffs.The inside of the dome was pitch black as the last people left. Bathrooms had no lights, making people afraid to enter, and the stench from backed-up toilets inside killed any inclination toward bravery.Vail, Colorado