Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina's Aftermath

As everyone knows it's been a horrible few days: Hurricane Katrina and her devastation will be felt for years to come. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families.

As you might guess, I'm an information junkie and as the storm approached I was virtually mainlining as it's weather news and commentary (led by Southern meteorological minded folk) provided ample info to feed my long-running weather news habit. There I found links to live new streams and could watch local New Orleans news as the storm progressed. The blog world became alive with posts about Katrina.

Then the storm hit my area and we lost power. No big deal compared to what others are going through. While at home, I had a small transistor radio. Listening to the coverage on AM radio by candle-light has made me feel closer to what happened...Closer to the victims. The kids aren't complaining because they know there are others who have it a lot worse than us. My 11 year old son asked if we could go down to help...I told him that we'd send in a donation to the Red Cross as they are much better trained at this type thing than we are.

I was struck by the communication pattern that has begun to evolve. Yesterday I caught a station out of Birmingham and refugees would call in to find out information on the types of damage to their home towns. The announcer would then google news reports for that area and relay them to the callers. At one point a woman called in to ask about Slidell where her elderly parents had evacuated...The disc jockey read back that "there was nothing left but slabs of concrete." The woman burst into tears while the man just kept on reading...Even repeating the worst parts.

The staff at WWL, New Orleans largest broadcasters, have been much, much more compassionate when, as is often the case, victims call in for information. I barely slept last night because I couldn't stop listening.

Now, online, there are real, heart-wrenching stories about the storm and it's aftermath: I found metroblogging.neworleans and lots of mainstream media news blogs. Today I find Katrina's Aftermath, an open blog for those who wish to post stories, pictures, and missing persons information.

I also see that at neworleans.craigslist people are offering to make calls or send emails for evacuees, some even posting their addresses and phone numbers, offering to house those in need. People really do care.

Back at work I feel more connected. I can check my Bloglines subscriptions, and get streaming news reports. But I can't get memory of the scratchy AM radio reception and that crying woman out of my mind. My hope for her, as is for all the victims of this disaster, is peace.