It wasn't exactly the cavalry that finally arrived. But for stranded French Quarter resident Joe Campiere, it was close enough.
After seven lawless days following hurricane Katrina's punch to the nation's Gulf Coast, a time when exclusive Rue Dauphin in the French Quarter turned into an outlaw camp, Mr. Campiere called 911 - and finally got through.
Soon after, three Texas lawmen rode by on horseback to inspect a reported break-in, a sight that couldn't have been more welcome to Campiere, and one that signified the sudden, and perhaps belated, return of order to the Big Easy.
"I tell you, I've been terrified," he says, packing a holstered gun. "I'm actually not a tough guy."
Days after officials said they had "turned the corner" in New Orleans, the Texas lawmen were the first Campiere had seen, even in this high-end corner of Louisiana's grande dame area. But they were not the last. Throughout the day, the city saw a second inundation: a steady stream of federal agents and troops from the 82nd Airborne rolled down Rue Dauphin, and soldiers and police from all over the country commenced block-by-block patrols.
As a crescent moon rose over the Crescent City Monday, New Orleans almost changed overnight from a lawless city to an occupied one, where police from New York City and Charleston, S.C., patrolled past broken-down and looted New Orleans police cruisers, and law officers outnumbered the remaining residents by 10 to 1.
It was clear that the rescue operation had taken precedence, but as more evacuees left their beloved city behind, the nature of the operation changed from the search for survivors to the first baby steps toward a return to normalcy for a darkened city.
"The greatness of our country is that we rebuild after tragedy, and we're here to make sure that can now start to happen," says Sgt. Leo Boeche, a member of a San Diego National Guard contingent that secured a section of Magazine Street on Monday.