I’ve stumbled on the most amazing blog direct from downtown New Orleans with a running journal from throughout the crisis. It reads like a real world version of the script from Omega Man.
Sigmund Solares is an internet entrepreneur (CEO and co-owner of DirectNIC) in New Orleans who runs a blog called The Interdictor. He and a group of friends, co-workers and customers have managed to keep their internet online and to provide ongoing coverage of the events in New Orleans using diesel generators and camping out in their offices. The site has first-hand reports of what’s going on in the city, lots and lots of photographs, an IRC chat and even a couple of web cams showing live footage around their building.
I don’t know much about these folks, and they’re doing everything they can to keep their blogging a-political. It’s hard to tell whether their survivalist mentality is something they had before the crisis or if it developed in response to the situation. Many of them seem to have military backgrounds, and they are remarkably well organized, with multiple teams seemingly formed around several related internet businesses which are performing basic services for each other and keeping the whole operation afloat. Yes, I have reason to believe they’re conservative/libertarian types, but this shouldn’t be about politics. It’s history live on the internet.
They’ve also been doing good work for others at the same time. The National Guard actually came to them to borrow diesel tanks and communications equipment, and they were called in by the city government to help reestablish internet access in their offices. They’ve also helped out local people where they could, and attracted a lot of media attention to specific problems in the city that they’ve observed.
You can access the blog directly at http://www.mgno.com. From there I recommend going back to the first page and reading the entire journal in sequence starting on the 27th.
You can reach them for IRC chat at http://crschmidt.net/irc/. You can also AIM with Sigmund Solares at IKilled007. No guarantee that he’ll be active on AIM at any given time, of course.
The photo archive is located at http://www.nola-intel.org/pictures/
I can only get a viable picture from one of their two webcames. It’s at http://meta.advection.net/event/adv/evt20050902/0250/. It offers a good view of a no-longer flooded downtown street with debris, wandering pedestrians, the occasional vehicle and an overall ghost-town like quality. I wish they had a webcam archive to go with the running commentary.
They are also looking for some help. They want to relocate their offices to somewhere outside New Orleans during the rebuilding process and they need room for 55 employees and their equipment in a facility where they can just hook up and be up and running immediately, like a hot site or turnkey office. I imagine they’re willing to pay a reasonable price, but if you know of a good location you can help them out with an email to email@example.com.
There’s also a very useful community website at http://wiki.nola-intel.org/ which has all sorts of relevant links and information.
If you’re interested in real, first-hand reports of what’s been going on in New Orleans without the media hype and political bullshit, you have to check out this site. It’s a hell of a lot better than reading competing arguments about whether the feds or the local government are the bigger morons.