Katrina Web Log


This Web log on Hurricane Katrina's aftermath is designed to help readers stay up-to-date on the various strands of this developing story. NPR.org will update this page throughout the day.

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September 6, 2005

Magazine Cover Captures Dramatic Moment in Time

'Time' magazine cover.
Time's cover features a photo by Kathleen Flynn of the St. Petersburg Times (View enlargement.) · Credit: Time

After a big event it's interesting to see what winds up on the cover of the newsweeklies. What photograph could best portray the story? What caption captures drama, sorrow?

The cover of the Sept. 12 issue of Newsweek shows a mother holding her two children, in desperation, under the words "Pray for Us."

Time's art director, Arthur Hochstein, told me he looked at thousands of photographs last week, but was most interested in pictures that were exclusive to Time. The magazine moves quickly to make deals with newspapers and agencies. A picture may appear elsewhere but it circulates (digitally these days) with the notation "MAGS OUT, " meaning that no other magazine can use it.

This week's cover shot was taken by Kathleen Flynn of the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times. Hochstein felt the water was crucial to the composition and that the distress of the two women was "emblematic of so many things wrapped up in one image."

Time did not have even one staff photographer in New Orleans during the first week. The magazine was able to hire a freelancer who lived near Lake Pontchartrain and ventured forth by kayak.

--Noah Adams

7:47 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

From Helicopter, Scenes of Life and Death

Vernon Rich of Phoenix was among several volunteer aviators who conducted airborne search-and-rescue efforts in New Orleans. Rich, an aviation mechanic and Louisiana native, describes some of the missions he and two helicopter pilots flew over the flooded city as challenging but rewarding.

In one case, his team delivered about 1,900 pounds of dog and food and kitty litter to help dozens of pets stranded at a medical center. In another, they convinced a 98-year-old resident to leave her home.

But Rich tells NPR's Melissa Block that perhaps the most difficult part of the mission was seeing the bodies of victims who didn't make it out alive. "When something like that happens, it's already done," he said. "There's nothing you can do about it. You just have to look forward and say, 'I'm here to help who can be helped.'"

MORE: Man Takes Up His Own Helicopter Rescue Effort

6:45 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Dealing with Disaster From Afar

Hurricane Katrina drove Christine Francis and 21 members of her family (ages 2 to 90) from New Orleans' Ninth Ward. They're now in Austin, Texas -- the closest place they could find hotel rooms.

In all, the family lost nine homes in the flooding. Most of the family members had homeowners and flood insurance. But applying for federal disaster assistance will be difficult, Francis says. "The main problem we're having is there's no way to assess the damages because the homes are underwater," she tells NPR's Robert Siegel. Francis says she doubts they'll ever return to the city they called home.

MORE: A Family's Life in Limbo

6:30 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Locking Gas Caps a Hot Commodity

"Petroleum panic," is what The News & Observer calls the gasoline goings-on in the Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Durham, N.C., area. As price at the pump saor, there are reports of nighttime siphoning and brisk sales of five-gallon gas cans.

Mark Smith, an auto parts store manager in Smithfield, tells the newspaper that he ran out of locking gas caps and turned away 50 customers who wanted to buy one.

I wonder what an auto parts or hardware sales clerk thinks when someone comes in just to buy a short length of plastic tubing.

--Noah Adams

5:58 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Flooding Begins to Ease in New Orleans

Crews work to pump water and repair a breached floodwall in New Orleans.
Crews work to pump water and repair a breached floodwall in New Orleans, Sept. 6, 2005. · Credit: Reuters

With one floodwall patched and water beginning to flow out of New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin says the city may have turned the corner in beginning to recover from the disaster, NPR's Phillip Davis reports. After taking an aerial tour of the city, Nagin estimates that about 60 percent of New Orleans is underwater, down from 80 percent last week.

Throughout the inundated parts of the city, fish and wildlife officers, national guardsmen and volunteers took boats and military trucks to find stranded residents. The mayor said many of the survivors are in pretty bad shape.

"Most of them are delirious, they're dehydrated," Nagin said. "Lots of them are senior citizens that have not had their medications in a long time, and they are requiring immediate medical assistance."

MORE: Water Level Decreases

5:47 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Bush Seeks More Aid; Foreign Pledges Stream In

President Bush intends to seek as much as $40 billion from Congress to cover the next phase of relief and recovery operations from Hurricane Katrina, The Associated Press reports, citing congressional officials. That would be in addition to the $10.5 billion already approved by Congress.

At the same time, pledges of foreign aid are continuing to come in, the State Department says.

The most impressive entries including that reassuring word "cash." Australia will send $7.6 million. India and China pledge $5 million each. And South Korea offers $30 million cash and in-kind donations.

The United Arab Emirates and Qatar each pledge $100 million. Saudi Arabia pledges $255 million from its state-owned oil company Aramco. Kuwait is offering $100 million in cash plus $400 million in oil.

In many disasters other items can be more welcome than cash. Israel is sending tents, first-aid kits and baby formula. Mexico is contributing bedding, MREs, baby care items and personal hygiene kits.

Singapore is sending three helicopters; two helicopters are coming from Canada, which is also sending medical supplies and evacuation flights via Air Canada.

By the way, we recall hearing about Cuba's willingness to send, specifically, 1,586 doctors each carrying 27 pounds of medical supplies. A State Department spokesman told me there's been no direct communication from Cuba -- it's just something Fidel Castro said on CNN. But the U.S. stands ready to accept all offers of help, "in principle," the spokesman said.

4:59 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

What's Left of New Orleans

Day to Day correspondent Mike Pesca takes a survey of what New Orleans has got to work with: "A few bars are open, some mules pull carriages down the street and the occasional drag queen sweeps her doorway clean." All signs of a city trying to return to normalcy.

There's some flooding in the Garden District, but that storied neighborhood is not flooded like most of the city -- or flattened, like Biloxi. At the convention center, where thousands fled rising waters only to find squalor and no aid, every inch seemed covered in garbage.

At 1.1 million square feet, the convention center is the fourth largest in the United States. The damage is extensive, but it seems to be only on the surface. "If they can clean a crime scene, they can fix this," Pesca says.

Experts tell Pesca that any rebuilding will probably involve federal funds, like the Marshall Plan. And that might actually make it more orderly and sensible -- too much of the city was built below sea level, with vulnerable levees the only defense against the flood.

"New Orleans, as an idea going forward, seems possible -- even if it didn't make much sense in the first place," Pesca says.

MORE: What's Still Standing, The Other New Orleans

3:56 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Widespread Power Outages Continue

Katrina eight days on - lights still off.

Along the Gulf Coast almost a million customers are without electricity. This total comes from the Department of Energy. Louisiana has the most houses and businesses still dark, with about half as many in neighboring Mississippi. Alabama is mostly fixed up, with only about 1 percent waiting for power.

If you want to stay on top of this story, check in with the DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery, which is providing daily power updates including maps of regions with and without power. In addition, a useful blog called Aftermath is posting the latest energy news.

--Noah Adams

3:03 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

New Orleans Bluesman Missing

"Noah--Little Freddie King is still missing." This was the subject line of an e-mail from Katharine Walton who works with the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Katharine is a telephone friend; we talk from time to time about music and books.

She's been keeping a list of New Orleans musicians and their whereabouts. Irma Thomas is okay, as is the Neville family. Fats Domino got out last week. But no one can find Mr. King.

Little Freddy King was born in 1940 not far from Bo Diddley and came to New Orleans at 17. He never left, became famous for what he called "Gut Bucket Blues," and was always a hit at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. His home was in the 9th Ward, hard hit by the flooding from Hurricane Katrina.

I called Katharine to check on these details and she also told me about another well-known musician who, thankfully, was known to be safe. He's a street singer named Slewfoot, and one of his signature songs is "Raining in New Orleans."

--Noah Adams

2:38 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Barbara Bush's Comments on Evacuees Cause a Stir

Former President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush visit evacuee children during a tour of Reliant Hall adjacent to the Astrodome.
Former President George H.W. Bush, second from left, and first lady Barbara Bush, right, visit young evacuees during a tour of Reliant Hall adjacent to the Astrodome in Houston, Sept. 5, 2005. · Credit: Reuters

In the "Well, it all depends on where you stand department" this quotation is spinning around cyberspace. Former first lady Barbara Bush said of those displaced from New Orleans to Houston's Astrodome: "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

Mrs. Bush was interviewed by Marketplace on American Public Media. She'd visited the Astrodome complex with her husband George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The two former presidents are heading up a Katrina Fund relief effort. Mrs. Bush also said, "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas."

The comments were picked up this morning on the Editor and Publisher Web site and quickly made it out to the Daily Kos and other blogs.

Texas has the most evacuees, close to 240,000 and today the federal government, hoping to speed up assistance, declared the state had a public health emergency. In New Orleans, a police superintendent said 10,000 people remain in the city.

--Noah Adams

1:41 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Mixed Emotions for New Students in Houston

Thousands of students from New Orleans begin registering for school in Houston on Wednesday. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports from the Astrodome that some parents and children aren't ready for a return to school, citing psychological trauma and a lack of supplies.

But Dishon Prada, 12, says he's excited to be starting 7th grade in a new city. He says that everyone in school will be "shocked and amazed" by his escape from New Orleans. Prada plans to make Houston his new home, but says that "I still got New Orleans in me."

MORE: Relocated Children Make Home in Houston, Helping Katrina's Youngest Victims

1:19 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Offers of Help for Stranded Pets

Lots of help for the Gulf Coast is available on craigslist.org, including offers from people who could provide foster care for pets. I thought of the popular Web classifieds site after hearing John Burnett's Morning Edition reference to hungry, near-feral dogs in flooded areas. John said they may soon have to be shot.

Among the many pet postings on craigslist.org today:

GOLDEN RETRIEVER ON STOOP Saw a sad faced Golden Retriever on CNN, sitting on a ledge/stoop next to the flooded street with no place to go… baking in the sun... I want to adopt this dog... I have Golden and Lab at home with a BIG fenced yard in the Maryland countryside.

WOMAN AND/OR DOG: I am a woman and can take in a woman with her dogs(s) or foster a dog. This is in or around Laramine WY.

FOSTER 2 DOGS WHILE YOU REBUILD: Any size, male or female, mixed breed or pure. All dogs are wonderful to us. Safe and loving home on 4 acres. Fenced in. Mountain country property 40 miles from Colorado Springs. We can arrange transportation by air and pay for everything. Crates may be a problem, but if airlines have them, we will pay for that too. Vet care goes without saying.

CAN FOSTER PARROTS/BIRDS: Will pay for transport to New York City. 12 years experience with birds. Even if situation is only temporary, I'd love to help in any way I can.

To see more find craigslist.org. The site opens at its home base in San Francisco and you'll find other cities on the right side of the page, with the Katrina-affected locations in red.

Also, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, many local branches of the Humane Society and others have set up rescue programs.

--Noah Adams

1:04 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Back Home, Temporarily

Mike Mire removes his children's bicycles from the garage of his house.
Mike Mire removes his children's bicycles from the garage of his house in Metairie, outside New Orleans, Sept. 5, 2005. He was among thousands of residents who were allowed to return home briefly to retrieve belongings. · Credit: Reuters

Jefferson Parish residents were allowed 12 hours on Monday to check on their homes and loved ones left behind in the western suburbs of New Orleans. NPR's Alix Spiegel traveled to the parish with 12 members of the Harris family. Much to their relief, they found a water-damaged house that looked much the same as they left it. The most dramatic change was a giant uprooted oak tree in the yard.

But the official window of opportunity to visit the area closed before one family member could check on his mother. She stayed behind in a different neighborhood during the hurricane and hasn't been heard from since.

MORE: Parish Residents Get Short Window to Return Home

12:46 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Temporary Morgue Established in Louisiana

With the grim task of recovering the dead beginning in earnest, FEMA has set up a temporary morgue in the small Louisiana town of St. Gabriel, just below Baton Rouge on the Mississippi River. A large steel warehouse is now a temporary morgue. More than 100 temporary FEMA employees will work at the facility, able to process about 140 bodies a day. Bodies will be decontaminated first, then examined for cause of death and identity."

MORE: Louisiana Town Becomes Temporary Morgue

12:29 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Bush to Oversee Probe of Hurricane Response

Buffeted by criticism over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush said Tuesday he will oversee an investigation into what went wrong and why. Bush says wanted to be sure the country could withstand more storms or attack.

Bush also announced he is sending Vice President Dick Cheney to the Gulf Coast region on Thursday to help determine whether the government is doing all that it can.

"Bureaucracy is not going to stand in the way of getting the job done for the people," the president said after a meeting at the White House with his Cabinet on storm recovery efforts.

"What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong," Bush said. "We still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure we can respond properly if there is a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack or another major storm."

12:12 p.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Many Displaced Workers Paid, For Now

Many companies employing people in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina are still paying their employees, even though they don't have jobs to report to.

Shipbuilder Northrop Grumman will pay employees for at least two weeks. Harrah's Entertainment says it will pay its 7,500 workers in Louisiana and Mississippi for 90 days. McDonald's locations owned by the parent company will provide two weeks of pay.

Wal-Mart will only pay its employees for three days, along with offers of limited cash assistance. But the company says it is helping to find workers new jobs, and it's donating $15 million to relief efforts. The Walton Family Foundation is donating another $8 million.

MORE: Firms Work to Locate and Pay Displaced Workers

11:40 a.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Police Officer Sticks to His Beat

While as many as one-third of New Orleans' 1,600 police officers turned in their badges when the city fell into chaos, NPR's John Burnett traveled with one officer still committed to his job. Bryan French is working the flooded neighborhoods east of the French Quarter. He's searching for victims and urging stragglers to evacuate now.

"I've never seen anything like it," French says. "The first couple of days were a living hell. Everybody was dying. There were bodies lined up in the water, bodies lined up on the High Rise (a bridge). It was complete hell.

Having stuck through the worst of Katrina's aftermath, French won't be quitting his job any time in the near future. Burnett reports that French likes being a New Orleans Police officer. But the officer will be moving his family to higher ground in the suburbs.

MORE: Rescuers Urge Residents to Leave New Orleans

10:25 a.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Harrowing Hospital Evacuation

Now safely evacuated from New Orleans, Dr. Jeff Myers of Tulane University Hospital describes life at the flooded facility as something similar to a war zone. He tells NPR that the staff abandoned two buildings to looters after repeated attacks, ending up at the medical facility's parking garage. There, military helicopters safely evacuated all of Tulane's patients, staff and family by 10:30 a.m. on Friday.

But Myers, the head of pediatric heart surgery at Tulane, says that two patients brought over from nearby Charity Hospital died while waiting for evacuation. These elderly patients might have survived if the evacuation had been "better organized," he says.

MORE: Recalling Evacuation of Tulane Hospital

10:20 a.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Abandoned Dogs Roam Flood Zone

Dogs left to their own devices are a problem in flooded areas of New Orleans. NPR's John Burnett reports from the flooded streets east of the French Quarter that stranded and abandoned dogs watch passing rescue boats in the hopes of seeing a familiar face. Many dogs have banded together in packs, traveling the dry ground they can find in search of food. Burnett says that officials wonder how much longer it will be before they have to begin shooting stray and feral animals.

MORE: Rescuers Urge Residents to Leave New Orleans

10:18 a.m. EDT | Sept. 6, 2005 | permalink

Compiled from NPR News sources and The Associated Press

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Photos: After Katrina

Refugees at Houston's Astrodome.
Howard Berkes, NPR

See the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina, from New Orleans to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

An Aug. 31, 2005, satellite image shows the extent of flooding in New Orleans.
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An Aug. 31, 2005, satellite image shows the extent of flooding in New Orleans. The floodwaters are in green.


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