Katrina, and it just keeps getting worse

I’ve been reading reports at CNN.com and at TVNewser, and it just keeps getting more and more unbelievable — how are things getting worse, not better? Hopefully now that so many more guardsmen have been deployed they can push back and try to restore order to New Orleans. Snipers firing at rescue helicopters? How does that happen? Anyhow, some more of the horrific and incredible coverage from today — I know this isn’t technically the FishbowlNY beat but then again, this news story is far bigger than any beat. Anyhow, some links:

  • Fox News’ Shep Smith on the road to the Superdome, with the body of a man lying in the street behind him. The man was trying to get to the Superdome. He was walking on dry land toward the place where he was supposed to be safe. It’s just so sad. [via TVNewser]
  • On the CNN blog, the heartbreak and horror continues. Sorry, I know that sounds awfully maudlin, but it’s so accurate. Ed Lavandera is in Kenner, Louisiana, where he talks to a mother who can’t find her newborn baby. Chris Lawrence in New Orleans reports that someone fired on people standing outside the Convention Center, and that it looks like the prisoners in the Orleans Parish jail have taken control of the prison – they apparently have weapons. Thank God they can’t get out. Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Baton Rouge reports a sniper firing on patients being evacuated from Charity hospital. Jim Spellman reports that, in the crowd of refugees spilling out everywhere around the New Orleans Convention Center, people are starting to die. “I don’t think I really have the vocabulary for this situation,” he says.
  • Chris Lawrence also points out: “I never want to compare anything to what’s happening in Iraq, but there is one similarity in that the ability to move about as reporters is slowly becoming compromised. To be as safe as possible, we have to sacrifice some of our ability to go out and confirm information and verify stories. And right now, with this safety situation in the city of New Orleans, that’s just not possible.”
  • Salon has an account of two reporters sneaking into the city and reporting on the surreal spectrum of conditions and behaviours they see, including a CNN crew trying to buy a truck off a random guy. And gas. And a canoe. [Salon]
  • Also at Salon: a letter pointing out the vast disparity between whites, blacks and Latinos in New Orleans: “You would have noticed during your visit to the former principal slave port, sprawling mansions on one side of the street and shacks on the other.” From the U.S. Census, it gives a pre-Katrina breakdown of the per-capita income NOLA: White (28 percent of population) — $31,971; Latino (3 percent of the population) — $16,151; Black (67 percent) — $11,332. [Salon]
  • TVNewser describes the footage recorded by NBC News photojournalist Tony Zumbado at the New Orleans Convention Center: people pleading with him to send help, bodies all around. TVNewser says “on MSNBC this afternoon, Zumbado said he saw babies die right in front of his eyes.” (I, like my friend Brian at TVNewser, am tearing up as I write this). Apparently the video appeared on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” tonight, and is available on MSNBC here.
  • Says Olbermann: “They are transcendant images and comments from Americans who followed the rules and saw the system break down around them.” The sense of betrayal is overwhelming.

A note: kudos to Brian at TVNewser for his relentless coverage — I realized that he’s become kind of the custodian of all these images and horrific realities for the TV news community, who check him compulsively especially in times like this. It’s a great weight of responsibility and he is meeting it, absolutely.