Monday, August 29, 2005


It looks like New Orleans didn't get blown or washed away -- yet. Lots of damage but not twenty foot flooding with breached levies that would take weeks to drain.

I tried to watch the cable news channels last night and this morning, but found myself restless at their attempts to say the same few facts over and over in the face of no new immediate information. That's probably what they are good for, letting one check in and out. More than 30 minutes of watching over and over an animated, spinning circle suggesting the hurricane's path, or a reporter outside holding out a wind gauge, and I go stir-crazy.

On the drive in to work today, a BBC radio host asked her correspondent holed up in a New Orleans hotel room (broadcast relayed on a local non-profit radio station) whether it was a scary or invigorating experience. She said invigorating (or it may have exhilarating) with such energy that it made me think that we are all in awe of such feats of nature, destructive as they may be.

But even with round the clock wired coverage, the reporters must rely on electricity and the optimal condition for operating technology, something that the high winds and rain made very difficult. And so, unusual for this electrical, digital age, we had to wait, unknowing what would happen, or how much would happen, and exactly where it would happen.

How helpless I felt, and I assume others, too, as the tv anchors (and MSNBC pulled in Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson, in a somewhat uncomfortable role for them) chatted on and on, repeating information, and how human for all of us to not know all the answers, to find ourselves stopped from multi-tasking activity and coverage, outside of the work of those in the Gulf area who were doing preparation, evacuation, and hunkering down.

UPDATE: Shelley has been following the hurricane all weekend, and has an excellent suggestion here about how people can help.

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