BLOGGING THE HURRICANE, Day 5: Frequent Updates from the Scene

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By: Greg Mitchell

All week, E&P has been providing frequent updates from the hurricane and “war zone,” from local newspaper web sites and blogs. We continue today, items updated from the top.

3:40 PM ET. At the Times-Picayune:

“An NABJ forum appears to be the source of a rumor that The Times-Picayune is going to cease publication.

“‘We just resumed publication so thoughts on ceasing publication at some later date are ridiculous,’ said Ashton Phelps Jr., the paper’s publisher. ‘The Times-Picayune will continue to publish. Period.'”

1:45 PM ET. From Times-Picayune:

“U.S. Senator David Vitter said that the death toll from Hurricane Katrina could top 10,000 in Louisiana alone.
‘My guess is that it will start at 10,000, but that is only a guess,’ Vitter said, adding that he was not basing his remarks on any official death toll or body count.

“Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, also called for the immediate deployment of regular US combat troops in New Orleans, saying the build-up of National Guard troops was too slow to quickly restore order.”

11:55 PM ET. From the Sun Herald blog:

“Sun Herald marketing consultant Jimmie Brewer has just gotten back from Hancock County. He’s pretty shaken up by the devastation. We’re letting him collect himself and then we’re going to debrief him and get the information posted as soon as we can. ‘I’ve hugged more people that’s lost everything,’ said Brewer.

“The Sea Coast Echo, a Bay St. Louis paper, is gone as are its archives. We’ll be working with them and hope to put out a Sea Coast Echo page in our paper daily.”

11:05 AM ET. From the Times-Picayune.

“The mounting relief effort did not allay concerns from local officials that it remained too little and mighty late.

“State Police Cmdr. Henry Whitehorn said some troopers had resigned rather than accept an assignment to go into New Orleans. He was uncertain how many, ‘but I have heard that and I know that’s a fact,’ Whitehorn said, noting that the officers also were coping with the impact of the storm. ‘They lost everything and don’t feel it’s worth going back and taking fire from looters.'”


10:30 AM ET. From the Sun Herald in Biloxi:

“Help began arriving Thursday for the beleagured Mississippi Coast, but long lines awaited anyone trying to get it. The death toll continued to rise even as desperate rescue efforts continued, and officials feared a massive public health crisis from poor sanitary conditions — including tons of spoiling shrimp and chicken strewn through neighborhood streets.

“President Bush planned a visit to the area today and asked Congress for $10 billion in aid, but it was the Federal Emergency Management Agency trucks full of ice, bottled water and prepared meals that most victims of Hurricane Katrina wanted to see.

“At some distribution points, people clapped, cheered and yelled, ‘Thank you, God!’ when supply trucks showed up. At others, sheriff’s deputies and National Guardsmen had to hold off a rush of people desperate for food and water.”


9:55 AM ET. The Times-Picayune, besides producing a print issue for first time this week, has an 18-page online version today, with banner head: “HELP US, PLEASE.”


9:15 AM ET. More trouble in the Crescent City, from the Times-Picayune:

“Three explosions ignited a fire today at a chemical facility in the Bywater neighborhood around 4:35 a.m., WAFB, Channel 9 reported. A Coast Guard boat patrolling the Mississippi River passed near by as smoke billowed over the city. Further details were unavailable.

“At 9 a.m., WAFB reported a fire in a five-story building on Poydras Street across from the W Hotel.”

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