Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Day 2 - Reality sinks in

This post originally was sent as an email to friends and family from inside The Times-Picayune's headquarters in downtown New Orleans.

The water outside has risen about three feet overnight, and continues to go up. Our building is an island. Another couple of feet and the water will start flooding our bottom floor.

This is "the worst case" scenario.

Things have turned very ominous here now. Senior management here is starting to talk about evacuating us.

Local officials are pleading with people over t.v. and radio to get out of the city now. Aaron Broussard, president of Jeff. Parish, just said on the radio that he's told his wife not to come back for at least a month.

This is the reality. We're all homeless now because we are cityless. Kristina and Michele, would one of you call Constantine. I haven't been able to reach him by phone since early yesterday morning, and I don't know if he's getting email. Just check on him to make sure he's ok. And give him the latest from me.

Fortunately, I think we're in a better situation than many others. We still have enough food and drinking water for a few days. We have at least three boats here. And the building is located next to the elevated highway. We can get, by boat, to the highway but getting picked up by vehicles isn't an option because the central part of the city is totally cut off from highway exits.

It seems the only way for us to get out right now is by helicopter. That's certainly an option because a helicopter can land on the elevated highway. Our ability to report is becoming more limited.

With only a handful of boats, not many of us can get out to work. I suspect over the next couple of days, we'll start reporting on our website more and more about what's happening in our immediate viewing area and on our own personal experiences here at the building. But we still have limited power from our generator.

We're still able to communicate through some cell phones and computers over the Internet. We have supplies. We can't drink the water out of the faucet but we can use it for bathroom reasons.

The looting is pretty bad according to the reporters and photographers who went out into the city yesterday. Things will only get uglier as people start running out of resources and become more desperate.

I'm guessing that at some point, we might get evaculated out of the city to the north shore or to the river parishes to the west.

Its becoming hard to imagine the city proper recovering from this. With highway damage, companies and businesses are going to have to relocate out of the city. People who can't come back to work - because their businesses and jobs in the city won't exist anymore - at some point will have to consider taking jobs somewhere else and establishing some sembelence of a life somewhere else. How many of those people will come back? I'm afraid that the New Orleans we all knew is gone forever.

I know this sounds almost hysterical, but the devastation here is almost unimaginable.

I'm charging my cell phone again but I don't know how well it is working today. I couldn't make any calls in or out yesterday. But many others here are able to use their cell phones. I'll call out as much as I can. Same with email.

Pray for us.

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