There was nothing anyone could do to stop it.
On a clear morning after the hurricane, water started filling up some of the only dry city streets — including the old French Quarter, this city's storied tourist mecca.
Later, in the downtown area, we also saw what can happen when people have nothing. Looting was everywhere and it was flagrant.
In a city with no basic human services, there is little police can do.
There were scenes here in New Orleans that look like they are from another land entirely. Civil behavior has been suspended.
Tuesday, we found the body of a dead man on the street corner.
For visitors, like Ricardo Mathieu, this was a special kind of horror with no way out of town.
"I'm stranded," he said. "I can't get to nowhere else. I don't have a boat to ride down."
Some tourist hotels had no choice but to ask their guests to leave. They couldn't take care of them. No one can.
"Since yesterday the water has just continued to rise and rise and rise and nobody's saying anything," explained James Hubbard. "So I'm just getting out now, before it's too late."
In New Orleans it was every man, woman and child for themselves.
"Mother Nature," said one New Orleans woman, "We just gonna deal with it. With all we have. By the grace of God."
But on Tuesday morning, when Bourbon Street met the water, few could afford not to care. For most it meant another reason to worry about daily survival, in a city left with nothing.