Days after Hurricane Katrina hit, New Orleans streets turned into a combat zone, with bullets narrowly missing police detective Fred Fath’s head, reports Newsday. His pistol and shotgun seemed to be no match for the lawless men armed with machine guns. “Two times I almost got killed, and I couldn’t talk to my wife,” he said. “I knew the general vicinity of where she was, but I couldn’t contact her.” Those moments caused Fath, 35, to put his head in his hands and weep.
Most of the department’s 1,750 sworn officers lost everything in the storm, police spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said. Now that the streets are mostly empty and the shoot-outs have lessened, Fath is worrying about bills that need to be paid, lost income from working security guard jobs at stores that are now closed, and sorting through the insurance mess from the damage to his northern New Orleans home. He considers himself lucky that his home is mostly intact, because 80 percent of his colleagues are now homeless. Officer Jamie Cohen’s rented home was destroyed. Indefinitely, her home is a Wal-Mart parking lot, where her police district set up a command post after floodwaters filled their station house. In a city where a police officer with five years’ experience makes under $30,000 a year, many have had fleeting thoughts about whether working in New Orleans is worth it.