For some reason, I find the first-hand blog entries of the field reporters to be the most compelling reportage on Katrina – I think it’s because it feels very straight and unfiltered; these people don’t have time to write it up all pretty and agonize over every word, they’re just putting it out there. CNN’s Jeanne Meserve, whose emotional account on Monday night prompted an outpouring of hundreds of viewer emails, believes that “apart from 9/11 this is one of the most significant events that has ever hit this country. Anybody who tells you this disaster is going to be rectified in a matter of months hasn’t seen the situation.” On the exodus from New Orleans:
On the way out of New Orleans, it looked like the dust bowl. You’ve seen the pictures of the dust bowl, of people piled onto the backs of tracks and moving their lives. That’s what is happening here. It’s extraordinary to witness.
CNN’s Jim Spellman calls New Orleans “a refugee city”:
Thousands and thousands of people are seeking shelter on the highway overpasses looking for some sort of help, some sort of information. They are screaming out to us and anybody around for water and for help. They are looking for information and for a way to get out.
(Tonight CNN showed footage of people on rooftops with “Help Us” signs – but where did they get paper and markers from?)
Spellman describes the brazen looting: “We actually went right up to a Walgreens where people were trying on shoes to get the correct size,” and worries about the lack of water: “It’s about in the 90s. It’s extremely humid here. And people are just baking out on these highways. There is nowhere else for them to go.”
And Ted Rowlands in Biloxi:
The death toll continues to rise here. People have been trickling in against the advice of authorities to see if their homes withstood the hurricane. The odds of them finding their house in one piece are low. Coming back now does absolutely no good.
Katrina: CNN correspondents report back [CNN]
NBC Correspondent Kerry Sanders: “It only gets uglier” [NBC Daily Nightly]