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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Storm Refugees Huddle at Stadium

NEW ORLEANS -- Desperate for fresh air, dozens of refugees from Hurricane Katrina slept on the walkway surrounding the Louisiana Superdome, as conditions inside worsened and frustrations grew. National Guardsmen let some of the 10,000 people sheltering inside the arena take their bedding out onto the concourse, where it was cooler, and the breeze was welcome.

"When you think what we could've gone through, it's not too bad in there," said Robin Smith, 33. "But it's certainly not as wonderful as this."

For the refugees -- many of them poor and frail -- the Superdome was a welcome shelter from Katrina, but it has been getting steadily more miserable. The bathrooms are filthy and barrels overflow with trash. With the air conditioning off since power went out Monday, the bricks are slick with humidity.

"I don't care how bad my house is. It's got to be better than this," said Ruby Jackson, 56, of New Orleans.

A groan rose from a group listing to a newscast when the devastation was detailed and officials in suburban Jefferson Parish said residents would not be allowed to return until Monday.

"I know people want to leave, but they can't leave," General Ralph Lupin, commander of the National Guard troops at the stadium, said Tuesday. "There's 3 feet [1 meter] of water around the Superdome."

Those in wheelchairs were lined up in rows five-deep along a wall. Officials were considering moving the patients to more accommodating areas.

"This is just too hot, too primitive, too uncomfortable for the patients and too hard to work in for the medical people," said Dr. Kevin Stephens, head of the medical shelter in the Superdome.

Two people have died, said Doug Thornton, a regional vice president for the company that manages the Superdome. He provided no other details.

The refugees spent Monday sitting in the seats of the 77,000-seat stadium or sprawled out on blankets and towels on the floor. Refugees were given two military-style meals in a pouch per day.

Katrina ripped two holes in the curved roof when the storm barreled through the city, letting in rain. Superdome and government officials stressed that they did not expect the roof to fail.

Dr. Thuong Vo was on his honeymoon in New Orleans with his pregnant wife when they were taken to the Superdome. Vo has been treating people during the day and sleeping on the concrete floor at night. "It's certainly been an eventful honeymoon," he said.