Saturday, September 03, 2005

Day 6 - Finally some good news

This is the first good day I've had in a week.

An editor just came running into the journalism school with a text message from Walt Philban, one of our crime reporters who was sent to Biloxi to look for Leslie Williams, a missing city desk reporter.

Leslie went to his hometown of Biloxi to cover the storm on Saturday and was last heard from Sunday.

After not hearing from him for days, we all feared he was dead.

Walt went to look for him on Thursday.

The text message from Walt said basically, HAVE LW.

Everyone here burst into cheers and cries.

Don't know any more details yet but there must be an amazing story behind Leslie's time in Miss. and Walt's search for him.

More good news - I got a rental car! They're almost impossible to find in Baton Rouge, but a colleague found two.

Having a car makes me feel much more normal. I feel like I can really work again.

I covered the governor's press conference today and was in the background of some TV camera shots doing an interview with a public utility commission member. Within five minutes I got four text messages from friends dispersed around the state, saying they saw me on TV and were glad to know I'm okay and still working.

Besides the good news about Leslie, the highlight of the day came around 3 p.m. when a post-traumatic stress psychiatrist from Tulane visited the J-School and talked to the staff.
He has spent the last few days helping people at shelters.

He talked to us about symptoms that we should watch for and answered questions.

But he brought himself and the rest of us to tears when he told us that he cried when he saw our first post-storm printed edition yesterday. He said we are a beacon of hope for the New Orleans diaspora, a sign that the city is still alive. He he reminded us that our readership has become the world.

We're all terribly tired, stressed, emotionally spent, but his words reminded us of the ultimate purpose of the work we're doing.

He gave us an important lift as start to emerge from the bottom of this deep dark pit.
Tomorrow is my first day off in a week, though it feels like I've been working non-stop for a month.

I'm planning to go to church, have a really great meal at a restaurant with my friend John who lives here in Baton Rouge, and do a little shopping for clothes and other supplies.
Your messages and calls continue to lift me.

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