New Orleans, Biloxi Papers Get Ready for Hurricane Disaster

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By: E&P Staff

The banner headline screams GROUND ZERO in the special early “hurricane” edition of the ‘Times-Picayune’ of New Orleans on Monday. Below, the paper declares that the city’s Superdome remains the “last refuge” for tens of thousands of residents unable to escape the oncoming possible catastrophe.

One can only hope this is not the last edition of the paper for awhile.

On its Web site, meanwhile, the newspaper offers evacuation maps, Web cams, audio, reader photos, disaster scenarios, reports from the hurricane “bunker,” and up-to-the-minute warnings as one of the most powerful hurricanes in decades heads for New Orleans.

Readers were being asked to send along accounts of evacuation, photos from the road and advice for those fleeing the area. Since the city rests below sea level, a direct hit from a massive category 4 or category 5 hurricane could cause unprecedented damage.

The site is constantly being updated with reader contributions, flooding predictions and official warnings.

To the east, the Mobile Register banner head Monday morning read: “Cat 5 Katrina Coming.” The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. has been updating its site frequently, including blog-like entries, and published Monday’s paper on Sunday afternoon. Shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, executive editor Stan Tiner posted the following on the site:

***

The Sun Herald produced Monday’s edition on Sunday afternoon and then sent the staff off to deal with their personal situations. Most, like the rest of our neighbors in South Mississippi took off for various points away from the coast, though a great many are riding out Katrina at their homes. The Tiners are in the latter category staying in Orange Grove on relatively high ground about ten miles from the coast.

A group of reporters are staying in the newspaper riding out the storm at our newsroom on DeBuys road.

A team of editors was dispatched to our sister paper, the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Inquirer where they will be prepared to put together Tuesday’s Sun Herald. The road warriors are Blake Kaplan, Paul Hampton, Jared Head and Rudy Nowak. They will put together our first draft of the history of Katrina’s most unwelcome visit in Georgia and it will be delivered on Tuesday afternoon at shelters and other locations across coast as a free newspaper.

Meanwhile our staff is prepared to go to work as soon as humanly possible to bring you the images and stories of this incredible event in the life and times of South Mississippi. It may very well be a news event on an order equal to that other defining storm here, Camille.

A number of our colleagues from other Knight Ridder newspapers are being pre-positioned to join our team in that important post-storm reporting. These include editors, reporters and photographers from papers as distant as the San Jose Mercury News, Charlotte Observer, Miami Herald, Macon (Ga.) Telegraph and those friends at the Ledger-Inquirer who are hosting our storm team.

Our thoughts are with all of you as we await the challenge of the next couple of days. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you and we very much appreciate all of the similar expressions of solidarity you have sent to us.

Stan Tiner
Executive Editor
Sun Herald

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