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Lejeune Marines Liken Flood-Ravaged New Orleans To Iraq

Posted September 18, 2005

— When most of us think of Marines, we think of tough guys who have seen it all.

But Camp Lejeune Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit say nothing compares to what they are seeing in and around New Orleans.

"It's a really good example of being in a war zone in the United States," says Marine Officer Brian Chavez.

Some of these Marines have been deployed to the Middle East. They say the devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is similar to being in Iraq.

"The scenery is pretty much the same -- trash, debris laying all over," Chavez says. "A lot of people in need."

There are 263 Marines stationed near New Orleans doing whatever they can to help clean up the area. It's an overwhelming task.

The 9th Ward of Orleans Parish was completely underwater. Mud, sewage, debris and abandoned cars now line the streets. Many people died there.

There's still no power or water and it's unclear when and if those who survived can ever return.

"There's a feeling of sadness for the people who used to live here," says Marine Lt. Kevin Delp. "We're moving a house and a church out of the street and when they come back it's not going to be here."

"You wake up in the morning and wonder where you're going to start," says Marine Sgt. Ben Lacour. "You just got to jump into it."

What is clear is that people appreciate what these Marines are doing.

"Where we're staying at, people are bringing food by, things like that -- trying to take care of us when we're down here trying to take care of them," Delp says. "Just to show their appreciation for the Marines and everybody that's down here helping out."

Helping out one load of debris at a time.

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