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9/2/2005
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Live -- And Death -- In The CBD

If you're still relying on the TV networks to get news about New Orleans, do yourself a favor -- turn off the TV and spend the next half hour reading The Interdictor. And if you possess anything -- products, technology, or expertise -- the people running this blog might need to stay safe, supplied, and above all online, score some serious karma points and let them know it's available.

If you're still relying on the TV networks to get news about New Orleans, do yourself a favor -- turn off the TV and spend the next half hour reading The Interdictor. And if you possess anything -- products, technology, or expertise -- the people running this blog might need to stay safe, supplied, and above all online, score some serious karma points and let them know it's available.I'm plugging The Interdictor again for a simple reason: This blog may, by the sheer immediacy, accuracy, and moral weight of its coverage, have played a crucial part in pulling New Orleans out of its death spiral. As you can read in their accounts on this blog (they're located on top of an OC-3 and a network operations center in a 27-story office building smack in the middle of downtown), large numbers of troops, heavily armed and bearing significant quantities of basic supplies, have finally entered the Central Business District this morning. One way or another, the looting and violence will stop.

This is not a case of people fighting over ruins, either. In spite of what you almost certainly heard at some point this week, probably from a source you thought you could trust, the entire CBD, along with the French Quarter and New Orleans' other main historic districts, never flooded and remained largely intact. What nature couldn't destroy, however, human stupidity, incompetence, and apathy spent the past 72 hours pounding to the very brink of extinction.

I can't and won't get into the blame game here. Suffice it to say that if you're not mad as hell over the most egregious act of official incompetence in U.S. history -- bar none -- get that resume into shape. You have a promising career ahead of you as a FEMA bureaucrat.

But my real point here is this: Big Media -- specifically the broadcast networks and cable news channels -- disgraced themselves this week. At the same time, however, millions of people discovered and came to rely on an alternate source of news from New Orleans. These were the bloggers -- or, if you like, "citizen journalists," many of whom still don't know how many of their family and friends are dead, no longer own a home or anything else, and witnessed atrocities that a week ago no sane person could have believed possible on American soil, in an American city.

Without blogs like The Interdictor, New Orleans would be a black hole right now, and the real destruction would just be starting. With them, there's still a chance to bring this city back into the 20th century and to save thousands of lives that otherwise would have been forfeit.

Also because of these bloggers, when the time comes, we will know whom to hold accountable for betraying the public trust and for allowing death, destruction, and misery that simply did not have to happen.

Satellite Imagery Update

I've got an updated link to satellite imagery -- this time of a much larger area of Orleans Parish and areas to the east in St. Bernard Parish. Many thanks to the folks at AP for getting this posted; these resources are more helpful to the people who need them than any news report ever could be:

http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_national/neworleanssatellite/index.html

This is, I assume, the same image I linked yesterday; it was taken, as the caption on he image states, mid-morning on August 31-- the height of the flooding in the city. NOTE: These are very large images, and the resolution is outstanding: If you need to find an individual house or even an automobile, you can do it using this image. But it will crash older, slower PCs and will not load over dialup connections

I won't do the guided tour again -- but if anyone who reads this needs help interpreting the image, to find a particular address or for any other reason -- email me at mattcmp@sonic.net. I'll be available all day (I'm in San Francisco) and I'll check my email occasionally this evening, too. I know the city, and I'll help you if I can.

Finally, one more image that anyone who eats, drives a car, or simply exists in this dimension will find interesting. It shows the oil refineries in Chalmette, about ten miles downriver from New Orleans, in St. Bernard Parish:

http://www.globexplorer.com/disasterimages/images/new_orleans_chalmette_aug31_2005_dg.jpg

As you can see, the refineries are mostly dry and intact, although the rest of Chalmette is a swimming pool. (My parents lived out of the shot to the top left -- northwest, towards Orleans Parish -- when Hurricane Betsy nearly drowned them in their beds the year before I was born.) This is good news (however subdued) for two reasons: Had those refineries flooded, we'd be facing the biggest environmental disaster in human history -- (IMHO, naturally); and there's also the prospect that people up the parish will still have jobs, and Northerners will still have halfway affordable heating oil, in a few months' time.

Enjoy your weekends and take away at least one other bright note: Somewhere in the Quarter, the regulars are already clambering back onto their barstools and lighting cigarettes, secure in the knowledge that for once, they deserve a drink and a smoke. Life goes on.

Update: How Do You Hurt A Blog?

Answer: You give out the URL on CNN. I'm sure some of the folks at CNN would be heartbroken if The Interdictor's servers went down under the load.

Update: TechWeb Articles On Katrina

I'll have these three items posted in the news section shortly. Gregg Keizer's piece on the post-Katrina satellite imagery, which has been expanding dramatically during the day as more imagery comes in from the last round of flyovers, is outstanding:

Internet Shows Katrina Damage From On High

Web Sites Launched To Help Find Hurricane Victims

Hunkered Down Internet Firm Weathers Hurricane (An article on the folks behind The Interdictor blog; there's a link in the story, although Gregg doesn't mention the name in the article, unless I'm staring right at it.

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