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Day 1101: Live From Birmingham, AL [Updated]

It’s VatulBlog temporary World Headquarters!  Armed with nothing but a map and our wits, we headed northeast out of New Orleans in search of the first major town with an available hotel room (reasonable rate and internet access).  The heroic D drove us all the way to Birmingham, Alabama in ten hours.  We avoided all major highways, especially after hearing about bad traffic on I-59 in Mississippi and into Alabama.

Before we left, I filed a report with the UK’s Independent newspaper. Here is the article – The eye of the storm: Leaving New Orleans is not an easy choice.  D and I also noticed this sign over the front door of Mojo Coffeehouse as we left town!  Get it?

Magazine & Race

Bec, Morwen, Karen, Pistolette, Michael Homan and GulfSails are still in New Orleans.  They’ve been posting when they can, so check out their blogs for personal experiences. New Orleans has lost power for the most part and the northwest section of the Industrial Canal is being overtopped (what some of you may be hearing on TV as “tidal sloshing”).  No breaches yet – cross your fingers.

1) Nothing of weather-related import ever happens in the French Quarter.  Anderson Cooper standing at the corner of Bourbon and Canal and showing footage of debris blowing around is useless to me. Ali Velshi in Port Fourchon wasn’t so bad, though.
2) After Katrina, they did not learn that a local person well-versed in New Orleans geography alongside the regular reporter is a useful thing.  It’s annoying when a cable news reporter stands at point A in New Orleans, refers to it as Point B and the anchor back in the studio asks the most irrelevant questions.  MSNBC hasn’t been too bad as they show footage from the local NBC affiliate, but they had to go and interview Brownie.
3) Dear Wolf Blitzer, shut the hell up. Unless you’re right there holding the damned thing up, don’t scare people that a floodwall in the Lower Ninth Ward has breached.
4) If you can read this, you are online. So, go to this online TV news aggregator and watch all four local news stations simultaneously. They are more accurate, comprehensive and relevant than stupid cable news.

More as we know it. If power comes back up soon, we’ll head back to New Orleans tomorrow. I’m worried about Tropical Depression 9, though. But that’s another crisis for another day. Since it is easier to update from the road than the blog, I’m posting regular updates to my Twitter, so keep it over there.

6 comments… add one
  • liprap September 1, 2008, 4:31 PM

    Mazel tov on the Independent article!

    I’m a doofus for believing CNN for even a moment. I second your admonishment not to watch CNN or FOX, and I would only add MSNBC to that list.

  • kalen September 1, 2008, 10:47 PM

    I suspect that your and D’s wits are a more formidable than most folks’ best-laid plans! May your return trip be swift and hassle-free…

  • robin rafferty September 2, 2008, 9:26 PM

    I did find many inaccuracies in the reporting of Gustav. Most of them were from desk reporters making their inapplicable comments (see later). Anderson Cooper usually knew what he was talking about; he knew where the upper 9th is; Sheppard Smith made corrections on other reporters. The ones who were here for weeks during Katrina understandably know the city and what they’re talking about. How would the others, when they haven’t spent any time there?

    We’re now in Nashville as the job was moved here unexpectedly after Katrina. We’ll take anything we can get about coverage of Gustav! Just glad to have 24 hour coverage by the major networks, as the more photos the better! I was able to see the lakefront where I grew up for a few brief moments.

    The worst comment I kept hearing: the gushing about the fact that New Orleans did evacuate this time, thus, escaping catastrophe, and that the levees worked this time. Neither one is accurate. I even heard it in a salon in Nashville today – there were actually 3 separate women there from New Orleans! First, yes, it’s great that people “got out”. But no one escapes the effects of 10 feet of water. We did not have that this time. Gustav didn’t have the storm surge – the critical difference. The levees that were tested during Katrina weren’t tested during Gustav. There was not a 25 foot storm surge, but at the most, 14 feet, a huge difference.

    I just hated those dumb reporters making these 2 inapplicable comments, and then, about 10:30 last night, Anderson said it, “But isn’t that comparing apples & oranges? There wasn’t anywhere near the storm surge!”

    He has a pretty good handle on it.

    I had to explain today why some people really weren’t all that stupid for staying in New Orleans for Katrina:
    (1) Up until Friday, the seasoned reporters who we’ve trusted for years said, “This will turn to the east. It always does. And if it does, we’ll be on the west side of the storm, the better side in terms of storm surge and unpredictability.”
    (2) New Orleans people don’t have the money to stay in hotels for many days at a time.
    (3) Many people have pets and/or property that they absolutely couldn’t handle leaving behind.

    The lady I was talking to finally got it. Why some of this stuff happened the way it did. But the national media tries to project New Orleanians as so stupid, that they wouldn’t leave the city, as though there couldn’t be any credible reason for staying behind.

    Fortunately, some of us have a little more means to leave, or are a little more scared, or don’t have more than one pet to care for.

    Thanks so much for the website with the 4 local networks – it is so great to hear the familiar voices talking about the hurricane! What happened to that younger meterologist guy on WWL – Richard or something – did he move on to another city’s station?

    Your website looks great!


  • Varg September 2, 2008, 11:27 PM


  • Boston Peng September 3, 2008, 2:37 PM

    Thanks for posting this! As a native New Orleanean (although not quite a Yat) who moved to Boston almost 20 years ago I always pay attention when storms are headed towards New Orleans. I’ve been watching WWL since the weekend but I love the multiple media feeds.

    I hope you get back to the city soon and find no damage and no visits from asshats who have gotten to the city before you (as I’m hearing on WDSU as I type this). Keep safe.

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