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Weekly BlogScan: Blogging Katrina (Special Edition)

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Hurricanes striking the eastern coast of Florida are a seasonal cliché. Floridians plan for them, stocking plywood and bottled water in preparation for each year’s big blow. 1992’s Hurricane Andrew notwithstanding (the “costliest disaster in U.S history” with 15 directly- and 25 indirectly-caused deaths and $30-billion in property damage, according to a St. Petersburg Times retrospective)&#8212that experience shows. Florida usually weathers these storms.

Katrina, however, jumped the fence, running into the Gulf of Mexico with Category 5 force, heading straight for New Orleans. And the blogosphere watched aghast, and commented, and worried, and sprang into action to offer relief.

Blog watchers at Bloggers Blog reported the virtual storm.”A Technorati search for Hurricane Katrina now [Monday] gives over 9,000 results. Nearly double the number we reported on Sunday… Humor writer Dave Barry even blogged about the event.” (Barry, who lives in South Florida, writes, “The good news is, I’m fine. There’s virtually no hurricane damage where I am. The bad news is, this is because I’m in California.”)

Weather-sat photo of Katrina advancing on New Orleans, Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Katrina hits LA, Navy-sat photo from RisingSlowly.com

At Rising Slowly, the “UK Weather Blog,” coverage of Katrina began on Saturday, when the storm, which had already killed 5 in its first assault on the Florida coast, turned around and headed back toward the penninsula.

The blog GulfSails is dedicated to the hurricane; its sub-head now reads: “Located in New Orleans – I will be riding out Hurricane Katrina with a generator, some beer and the ability to post via cell phone after we lose hardlines. I will attempt at least hourly posts. Pictures will be available until land lines are lost.” The blogger reminds us that “New Orleans is effectively an island and there are only three exits out of the city.” An earlier post worried about the people left unevacuated due to a class-action lawsuit.

New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin… has been asked several times why he has not issued a mandatory evacuation of Orleans Parish. (All other SE Louisiana parishes have as of Saturday evening.) His replies have constantly been that he can’t because of a legal matter that he has the City Attorney looking into… Apparantly, if he orders a mandatory evacuation, individuals who can not personally evacuate the city for whatever reason become the legal responsibility of the City Of New Orleans. The closest estimate is that there are 100,000 New Orleanians who have no personal transportation.

Poker-blogger adb_davoice, taunts Katrina on Random Musings of Mine with “Do Your Worst Biotch!” The blogger muses, “You know it’s not going to be a good day when you live 3 blocks (literally) from the beach where JIM CANTORE from the Weather Channel is doing his updates. This guy is like a freaking hurricane magnet!”

Professional-looking HurricaneNOW is carrying constantly-updated coverage of Katrina and hosts a chat room for constructive comments and feedback. “In the meantime,” co-founder Jeff Flock suggests, “consider a hurricane relief donation to assist the many victims of this devastating storm.” HurricaneNOW’s assessment?

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most powerful storms to ever strike the US. Our HurricaneNow.com crew would normally follow the storm inland. However, because of the widespread devastation and flooding, we were unable to travel outside of downtown New Orleans. We are making all efforts to webcast, but it is technically impossible at this time.

Other blogs quickly sprouted posts with links to charities: Connie of Sugar-Shock Blog included links to seven, then broadcast an appeal to others in the blogging community to step up.

Nancy Terry at My Kingdom takes a different view of hurricane relief from Andalusia, AL. “Now that we have this ‘Hurricane’ coming,” she wrote on Sunday, “the whole city is going to be in a state of shear panic. These people really need to find something more productive to do with their time than sit in front of the t.v all day watching the weather channel. Maybe they need to have more sex.”

New Orleans trailer-park wrecked, Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Residents survey damage, photo from smh.com

Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald online (smh.com) reminds us that it has been a long time since New Orleans faced such a storm.

New Orleans’ worst hurricane disaster happened 40 years ago, when Hurricane Betsy blasted the Gulf Coast. Flood waters approached six metres in some areas, fishing villages were flattened, and the storm surge left almost half of New Orleans under water and 60,000 residents homeless. Seventy-four people died in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

Paul at Wizbang (who rode out the storm in the gale-damaged Superbowl) is one of many bloggers who ring the knell of destruction in the aftermath of the storm:

  • 80% of the city is underwater… New Orleans proper has a population of about 500,000
  • Both Airports are underwater
  • An oil tanker is aground and leaking oil – 3 more “big boats” are aground
  • MAJOR levee break on the 17th street canal flooding both [New Orleans] and Metairie
  • The Southern Yacht Club burned and is completely destroyed
  • The High-rise bridge got hit by a barge and they don’t know if it is safe
  • All of Slidell under water (population ~110,000)
  • Most of Metairie under water (population ~200,000)
  • About 50% of the “lower Northshore” (Mandeville, etc., population ~150,000) is under water
  • Gas leaks all over the city, many burning…
  • The Twin Span bridges are completely destroyed
  • …they don’t know about the safety of the Causeway

Meanwhile, political blogs took left- or right-eye views of the impending storm and its aftermath. While the Michelle Malkin blog concentrates on blogger reports of storm damage, John Aravosis of AmericaBlog writes “You fight disaster with the army you have left…,” arguing that the deployment of National Guard units to Iraq leaves the US bare of amphibious vehicles that could be used to rescue people trapped by floodwaters. Noting Aravosis’ comments, Steven Spruiell‘s Media Blog on National Review Online is not surprised:

Of course, left-wing blogs are using the disaster to take shots at President Bush, because, you know, if he wanted he could change the course of the hurricane with his secret neo-con weather machine. Don’t you get it? New Orleans voted for Kerry!

And many bloggers are concerned about the impact on gas prices from the loss of the port of New Orleans. Donald Sensing links many of these economic concerns at his Tennessee blog, One Hand Clapping.

New Orleans [and] other nearby ports are major petroleum transshipment points; one news report I heard this afternoon said that 25 percent of the country’s petroleum passes through the New Orleans area. Louisiana is itself one of the most important oil-producing states…

The knell continues to toll, folks. And bloggers around the world are listening and passing the word.

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About DrPat

  • Thanks Pat. Glad to see our thoughts get wider circulation. Just got out of New Orleans this morning in knee deep water before it got neck deep. It is a horrible situation and I have a lot of experience with disasters. We’ll post some new thoughts to the site http://www.hurricanenow.com in the next hour or so.

  • thai

    I was just looking at pictures on msn of the damage to new orleans.I was overcome with compassion for the people of this city, that was until i got to the second to the last picture. It was taken yesterday, before water level was above 3 feet, it showed a bunch of black youths and adults looting(thats just a nice way to say robbing) a sports shop, holding boxes oif shoes and tons of shirts. I am appalled at this. It shows that most sterotypes are indeed based on the actions of the race.

  • The ‘black youths’ (Afro-Americans) shown mostly looting (there was ‘white people’ that I saw too) was not a stero type thing, the area they were showing down south is populated much by the black community, they are the majority of the people near there…

  • kim frazier

    i just want to say that i give my heart to everyone that is in this mess down there.i wish that i lived closer so i could help.i mean i know how it is to live weekly one a pay check and i know how it is to be homeless.but it wasnt because of a storm.i i live in indiana .i wish i could help.but it will be better god is with them.

    thanks kim

  • My heart goes out to all the victims of the disaster. Please don’t think it’s over. The holidays are here and MANY MANY people still do not have homes to return to – Families have been separated, peopled have died… I have personal friends who’s elderly parents were so confused w/the move from New Orleans to Lake Charles that it threw them deeper into disorientation and fell in their ‘new home’… only to end up in the hospital and die. Yes, I would call this a hurricane realted death. Go back and read about the reality of this storm.

    READ the Special Edition of Hurricane Katrina that NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC published. I bought 50 copies for friends, family & others who want them. Contact me if you are interested in getting a copy for yourself or for a victim. All proceeds go to helping the victims.

    If you want to stay on top of what is still happening, look back at how it started and let those images stay you a reminder of the power of mother nature.