Friday, September 02, 2005

Day 5 - Fire

The roller coaster continues. After feeling somewhat hopeful for the first time yesterday after seeing my house in tact from the air, today started with more reasons to despair.

Now fire has been added to the list of plagues visited upon the city. Many of you have probably seen news coverage of the chemical storage warehouse that exploded in flames early in the morning. That warehouse is 2.5 blocks from my house on my street, Clouet, at the river.

Shortly after I arrived at the journalism school, two shell shocked looking men arrive at the building. They had just left the city hours ago after spending three days rescuing people from the 9th Ward.

Turns out they live two blocks from Constantine and me on Clouet. They said they rode out the storm there. They left after the warehouse explosion. They said many people are out of drinking water and food, suffering terribly, and fearful of the lawlessness that seems everywhere.

I spent most of the day with Entergy utility crews who are restoring power in St. Charles Parish, just west of the city. A group of Kentucky workers were glad to be outside the city and said they fear going in until more troops are on the ground.

The arrival of our first printed edition since Sunday made national news today. Printing the paper again was a huge lift for all of us.

I'm working again tomorrow, but I finally get a day off on Sunday. We're starting to rotate one day off among us.

Yesterday, we sent one of our crime reporters to search for Leslie Williams, a city desk writer who was sent to Gulfport to cover the storm Sunday. He left a shelter Sunday night to find safer lodging, but we haven't heard from him. We sent a crime reporter to Miss. to search for him.

Leslie is a great writer and reporter and a wonderful friend. We're all terribly concerned about him. Keep him in your prayers.

Baton Rouge is filling with people and its infrastructure is straining mightily under the pressure. More on that later.

Time to grab some food and get some sleep.

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