Thursday, September 01, 2005

Live-blogging from downtown New Orleans

Just snatched this still-warm news from Wired: A small web hosting service, Zipa, is still online, allowing us to read what appears to be the only blog both written and hosted in downtown New Orleans:

With buildings reduced to soggy ruin just a few blocks away, Zipa's data center -- built by Enron in its expansionist heyday -- still operates, powered by a 750 kilowatt diesel generator and connected to the rest of the world by a fiber optic connection buried deep underneath New Orleans' flooded streets.

That makes the employees of Zipa and sister company Direct NIC, which is just upstairs, some of the only flood victims in New Orleans with the ability to communicate with the outside world.


Zipa has a webcam in their data center, on the tenth floor of a downtown office building, and they're streaming photos on the web.

"We are still up and running," says data center manager Michael Brunson, "We have people on site and they are doing well. Even if they need a bath."


Read more over at Wired, then check out the blog of Zipa's "crisis manager," Michael Barnett. Here's a sample, posted several hours ago:

In case anyone in national security is reading this, get the word to President Bush that we need the military in here NOW. The Active Duty Armed Forces. Mr. President, we are losing this city. I don't care what you're hearing on the news. The city is being lost. It is the law of the jungle down here. The command and control structure here is barely functioning. I'm not sure it's anyone's fault -- I'm not sure it could be any other way at this point. We need the kind of logistical support and infrastructure only the Active Duty military can provide. The hospitals are in dire straights. The police barely have any capabilities at this point. The National Guard is doing their best, but the situation is not being contained.


Can you believe this is happening in America? Deeply disturbing stuff. You'll be profoundly moved to pray.

The photo gallery is here.

24 comments:

Robin Bayne said...

Praying.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I can believe it's happening. But I've been stopping to pray, and the last time very specifically for wisdom and coordination and organization for the leaders, military, law and order and charities so people get helped FAST.

Opportunists and sociopaths and just plain lousy human beings will always take advantage. They did during Andrew (homeowners had to patrol with guns and rifles), with looters and gougers and scan repairmen loose on the victims like wolves.

Because this situation in SO is so enormous, and because people DID NOT HEED the evacuation notice--which would have saved them this horror now--the scale is simply overwhelming for the people trying to help. I hope we learn from this how to better handle what comes.

Pray for the leaders. This is a hard place for anyone who shoulders responsibility for chaos and human lives.
Mir

Julana said...

Unfortunately, too many of our National Guard are over in Iraq. This is what they should be doing, homeland security.

Anonymous said...

"Because this situation in SO is so enormous, and because people DID NOT HEED the evacuation notice--which would have saved them this horror now--the scale is simply overwhelming for the people trying to help. I hope we learn from this how to better handle what comes."

Because I'm poor and I live on a day to day basis, I don't even own a car, not enough money to pay for another place like a hotel or just plain stubborn.... the reasons are there. Or money should have been set aside for the upkeep of levees instead of being cut. Or the National Guards should have been on standby and prepared when a Cat 5 typoon was issued and everyone was talking about worst case scenario days before the typoon actually landed. But wait, they're mostly in Iraq, fighting the terrorist there so we don't have to worry over here. Maybe I should just grow wings [wistful thinking] and fly on a whim. Lovely Christian attitude. Compassionate Christian Conservatism at work, I suppose.

Brenda Coulter said...

Anonymous, nobody comes to my blog and sneers at Christians (or those who practice other religions). You're walking right on the edge of what I will tolerate before deleting a post, so I'm going to ask you to please be more careful what you say.

No hard feelings; I just want everyone to understand what this blog is and what it isn't. Polite disagreements are fine, but anyone who's looking for a fight should go read some other blog. We don't do that here.

Anonymous said...

So you deleted my response. That's the most you could do when shown actual examples? How sad.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, every Christian I know has or is donating to help in the stricken areas. Some are going themselves to help church aid groups. Of course, you maybe only care about your political agenda. If there had been a terrorism attack, you'd likely say, "Hey, why didn't they spend more to stop the terrorists?"

This is disaster on an epic scale in an area that was alway in great peril (so much so, some engineers are saying NO sholdn't be rebuilt), and in an area with high crime, which makes the danger all the moreso for regular folks stuck in this horror. I'm personally sick with upset and have given TWICE and will probably give again and pray throughout the day. I've seen more compassion from my Christian friends than from YOUR post, frankly, which just is out to score political points.

Mir

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, every Christian I know has or is donating to help in the stricken areas. Some are going themselves to help church aid groups. Of course, you maybe only care about your political agenda. If there had been a terrorism attack, you'd likely say, "Hey, why didn't they spend more to stop the terrorists?"

This is disaster on an epic scale in an area that was alway in great peril (so much so, some engineers are saying NO sholdn't be rebuilt), and in an area with high crime, which makes the danger all the moreso for regular folks stuck in this horror. I'm personally sick with upset and have given TWICE and will probably give again and pray throughout the day. I've seen more compassion from my Christian friends than from YOUR post, frankly, which seems merely to seek to score political points. I'm not impressed.

Mir

Brenda Coulter said...

So you deleted my response. That's the most you could do when shown actual examples? How sad.

Anonymous, I haven't deleted anything. Yet. But I think you know that.

RebMel said...

Well, Anonymous, you've managed to totally derail this discussion from the victims of Katrina and focus it entirely on you. That, my friend, speaks volumes about your character.

At the risk of actually being on subject here: Brenda, thanks for the links, and the info. I visit your site for two reasons: 1) because I love your humorous, shrewd voice. 2) because you find things of interest and throw them out for our consumption on a consistent basis, no matter what is going on.

Thanks.

In Christ,
Rebecca

Brenda Coulter said...

...because you find things of interest and throw them out for our consumption...

Gee. That kinda makes my blog readers sound like a pack of hungry dogs. ;-) But thank you, Rebecca. If you've been informed and entertained, I'm very glad.

Danica said...

Brenda, thanks for sharing the info. I think it's very interesting.

As for the comments, well, I suppose people can sit around all day, pointing the blame finger, but at the end of the day, there will still be people who need food, water, and shelter. So maybe rather than attacking those who are just trying to help, people might consider actually doing something constructive.

Monica said...

True Christians are helping, giving until it hurts, opening their homes and working as voluteers until they drop in fatigue.

But true Christians need to open their eyes and ears too. Brenda's Christian principles and her blog should not be disrespected, but Christians who care are the ones who need to hear and see.

I'm seeing too many self-satisfied and quick to judge like the Pharisees (the popular, conservative religious leaders of Jesus's time). Jesus wasn't crazy about Pharisees and their counterparts. Just because something is popular and widely approved in a worldly way, we should keep in mind that doesn't necessarily mean it's truly right in the eyes of God.

It has hurt my heart to hear the talk of looting and snipers over concern for dying babies and suffering poor. It hurt to see the a few desperate criminals could stop aid being given to thousands of suffering and dying. In any disaster, there is always looting and opportunists. That usually doesn't stop people from going and and saving dying babies. It never stopped our brave troops before, but in this case it did. Was it because these people were poor and black that the outpouring of immediate aid that happened in other disasters didn't happen this time? To many it looks that way.

What would Jesus have done?

The pictures say it all, I don't have to repeat it. We are watching the rich, corporate, and worldly leaders being lifted up and celebrated and supported while the poor are vilified and left to die--only rescued because of television cameras and the outrage of TV reporters.

I hope true Christians can turn away from the political rhetoric, crack open their Bibles and read what Jesus said about caring for the poor, suffering and meek of the earth--and that rich men will find it harder to get into the kindom of heaven than a camel to get through the eye of a needle.

I hope they read what Jesus said about the religious leaders of his day who operated out of self-satisfaction and self-righteousness and supported worldy leaders and governments.

Then I hope they stop talking about looters and praying for leaders, rich men and George Bush.

I hope they start praying for the dying children and suffering poor and reading and understanding in their hearts what their Bibles say.

Brenda Coulter said...

Monica, since you appear to believe I'm focusing only on the criminal element in New Orleans and care nothing about the hurting people trapped there, I'm guesing you haven't read my September 1 post.

I don't know where you got the idea that conservative Christians don't care about the poor. If we seem to you to be talking overmuch about the lawlessness in the city, let me assure you that it's because we're shocked and deeply concerned that nobody has been there to protect the innocent and law-abiding people. Women have been raped. People have been murdered. And people have been dying because criminals have been shooting at helicopters, hampering the relief efforts. And you don't think we should be talking about this, informing others, and encouraging each other to pray and to find ways to alleviate the situation? Honestly, I don't understand you.

My conservative Christian friends are praying, giving money, and offering other practical help. It saddens me that you seem to believe they don't care about the poor, black, innocent people trapped in that horrible place.

Monica said...

Please reread my opening statement. I also never said that you were uncaring.

What if this happened after 9-11? Some took advantage of the chaos back then. Bad people exist and they always will. What if all we did was talk about those bad people and used them as an excuse to delay mobilizing to rescue and help the 9-11 survivors?

What worries me is the extent of concern about the looting, which frankly happens in any disaster, vs. the extent of concern over babies dying and suffering.

People raping, shooting at rescuers and holding people up need to be shot. That's a given.

But did you see the pictures of all the thousands at the convention center who had waited for five days (and are still waiting)? They're not being lawless or looting. They are merely waiting. Thousands ( I heard 20,000+ at the convention center alone) of people went where they were told or rumored they would be rescued (the convention center and the superdome) and were left to suffer and die. American have never responded to any disaster in this sort of uncaring and overly patient way before. Laurie Gold has an excellent post on her blog about why she thinks this happened.

Did you see the bodies on the street? Five days!! Can you imagine having your family, including babies and ailing elderly on a sewage filled street for five days without food or water, while watching battalions of reporters able get in, but being told that help can't?

Those at the Superdome waited days in unspeakable conditions to get on buses, but they didn't riot or carry on lawlessness when 700 (white) people from the Hyatt Regency were escorted in front of them and allowed to board those buses immediately.

If you were there with your young suffering children, waiting for five days to get on a bus and leave, could you watch this in silence?

So yes, when all some can talk about are the relatively few criminals going bonkers, instead of the five days of death and suffering yes, it makes me want to cry and wonder.

I think true Christians are doing all they can. But the ones who can only dwell indignantly on the stereotypical few looting and sniping, rather than the thousands upon thousands waiting, suffering and dying. . . maybe Jesus will have them wait days in sewage filled water, wearing the shoes of poor, black people.

Kate R said...

http://katerothwell.blogspot.com/2005/09/hey-he-said-get-story-outwell-okay.html

Anonymous said...

Uncaring? Everyone I know was donating to the Red Cross et al organizations PDQ. Friends of mine were organizing fundraising and getting on lists to house families. I don't know anyone first-hand who didn't give a damn or shrugged. And no one in my group said, "Oh, they're blacks, we dont' care."

If they said that, I'd "disown" them, dang sure.

I did read of a Blue-Stater who was conflicted about giving to a Red State. And I have no doubts some bigots out there saw blacks on tv and said, "Screw em", cause that's reality. And the freaks claiming God did this on purpose--well, I'd like a visit from the angel that told them that, cause it sounds like a mighty loony thing to say. The cranks will always be with us.

Some people won't give cause of color or nationality or whatever. We know that. We know there are divisions. Always will be of one sort or another. But I think the vast majority saw need, just plain need, and that's what they're praying, giving and joining in for, to meet need.

The talk about leaders and politicians has hardly been praising and lauding. I don't know who's been praising the rich. Me, I've been waiting to hear from the rich and famous and hoping to see big checks from movers and shakers.

The little folks are with the needy in heart--and wallets. At least in my acquaintance.

And the generosity and hospitality of the Houstonites and others, well, that's the better angel of America.

Those who are using this to make political lather, they need to get a grip.

Mir

Robin Bayne said...

Have to echo what Mir just said--I'm on a variety of discussion boards that are busy giving their money and time to help the Katrina cause. Some are Christians, others are romance writers and still others are breast cancer survivors. The only place race has ever been mentioned was here and on Laurie Gold's blog. It's sickening to see how the disaster has been politicized by some.

I couldn't believe anyone would think that race had anything to do with the problems. Was it poor/lack of planning? Yes. But regardless of the color of the victims problems would have arose, because we weren't ready for it. Still aren't.

Like Mir, I have heard a few who think this storm was God's wrath--but they are not the majority of Christians. The majority understand this is a fallen world and we have to deal with it, helping others as we can.

Candy said...

"... because people DID NOT HEED the evacuation notice..."

You're kidding me.

Please, PLEASE tell me you're aware that many of the people wanted to get away by simply couldn't afford to?

That many wanted to get away, but unlike people like Trent Lott (whose new porch George Bush is looking forward to enjoying) had almost nothing to begin with, and couldn't afford to abandon what little they had, and now have absolutely NO resources to rebuild anything, much less a house with a porch?

That it takes an estimated 72 hours to evacuate the area, but the call for evacuation didn't arrive until, what, 24 hours before the hurricane hit?

This kind of attitude beggars belief.

"Pray for the leaders."

Since the leaders were the ones who slashed funding for levee repair, flood management measures and FEMA, and since they're the ones who sent a huge chunk of the National Guard overseas, for the first time in a long, long time I'm praying all right. None of the things I'm praying for on behalf of these leaders can be said on this blog, though.

But most of my prayers right now are reserved for the poor, the trapped and the suffering.

Monica said...

Robin, I do believe you'e well-meaning and caring, but please hear this:

You said: I couldn't believe anyone would think that race had anything to do with the problems.

ONLY white people say things like this. It is your blessing and luxury to believe there is little racism and any complaints about it are using a race card. But it isn't true.

You haven't visited ANY black sites if you haven't read race mentioned. Blacks KNOW race is a factor because we live it.

On a private list of black romance writers, including many fundamental Christian inspirational authors, race has been talked about, not a theory or a debate, it's a fact--pretty much like the hurricane occurred or New Orleans flooded. You need to respect that.

Or I (and any black person)--we feel insulted. A white person saying they know that race doesn't matter is like a man saying he knows childbirth doesn't hurt that much.

Thank you in advance for your caring and consideration.

Laura Mills-Alcott said...

This has been an interesting thread, and I feel compelled to lend my voice to a few issues.

Before going to work today, I spent the day working on our disaster relief projects.

We have 2:

1 to raise money to get aid to those who need help now (we've raised over $700.00 so far, and have almost enough authors signed up for the 2nd part of our fundraiser to add another $1000.00 to that - keep your fingers crossed)

The second project is a caravan of readers and authors (and anyone else willing to be in the caravan) who are going to take supplies (food, water, clothing, diapers, forumla, other necessities) to the refugees in 3 states next week (in most cases, quite directly to the refugees, no middle men, no organizations with red tape).

The first project, the money is going to authors and readers in the books community who are victims and need help (there are lots of them), without regard to race.

The second project, the donated supplies are going to as many victims/refugees as possible (even if they've never read or written a book), again without regard to race.

On the second project, we can't go into New Orleans or the other cities hit hard by the hurricane, because that would only hinder the bigger relief efforts, so we're working with churches from Mobile to Baton Rouge, who are sheltering refugees and providing for them, and who have agreed to help us get supplies further in to those who need it, in the event we are fortunate enough to have enough drivers join the caravan to be able to take that many supplies down (there's no problem getting the supplies - it's having enough drivers to haul them!).

Over the last few days while we've been putting all this together, I've worked with both blacks and whites, and I've got to say that, in this case, race is *not* an issue. We're helping white and black authors and readers, and the supplies we're taking down will go to any refugee that needs them. Nobody has said anything about race. It's just been a matter of everyone wanting to help as many PEOPLE as they can help.

Yes, it's true that the majority of the refugees are black and poor (there are also a lot of poor whites who are refugees and who died in the wake of the hurricane). Therefore the victims are mainly black and poor. But I'd wager a whole lot of money that problems with the response have nothing at all to do with skin color, and has everything to do with *nobody* being prepared (not on a local level, state level or a federal level) for all that went wrong once the hurricane hit.

The sight of babies dying, of people suffering, of everything bad that's happened has broken the hearts of *every* decent American, of every race and religion. White and black alike.

Discrimination exists on all levels. I have been discriminated against because I'm a woman, because I'm a single mother, because I write romance, and even because I'm white. I've been discriminated against by men, by the rich, by whites and by blacks. It's an unfortunate part of life for a lot of people, regardless of your race, religion, gender or social standing.

And even though I am not racist, I know racism exists. I'm not saying it doesn't. I'm only saying what we are seeing in this case has *nothing* to do with skin color.

And if I say, "Race doesn't matter," I'm referring to *myself* - it doesn't matter to me. *I* don't care what your color is, because color is not what forms my perception of you as a person or whether or not I want to be your friend.

To me, *racism* matters, because it's wrong. To me, *race* does *not* matter, because it's a non-issue when it comes to if or how I deal with others.

In a time of crisis, this country (as a whole) pulls together and forgets about all of our differences and remembers the one thing we have in common. That we're Americans.

It happened on 9-11. And it's happening now.

I've read an awful lot about race in reference to the hurricane. I really wish *everyone* would drop the race comments and focus on what's important. There are PEOPLE who need help, black, white and everything in between, and they need that help now.

When all is said and done, that's all that really matters.

Because this is Brenda's blog, I'm not going to go into details about the projects, but anyone who wants more info on donating or being part of the caravan can email me.

Laura
LMALCOTT@aol.com

Brenda Coulter said...

Just wanted to pop in and say that I've been busy all weekend and haven't done much more than skim the comments here. I'm not wild about the political turn this discussion has taken, but as long as you folks aren't using profanity and ridiculing each other's religious beliefs, I'm not going to delete any of your comments. (The anonymous individual who accused me of deleting her comment was lying and wanted only to stir up trouble.)

Best wishes to everyone. Thanks for reading my blog.

Robin Bayne said...

"And even though I am not racist, I know racism exists. I'm not saying it doesn't. I'm only saying what we are seeing in this case has *nothing* to do with skin color."


I agree, Laura, and also feel discriminated against for many things outside of race. But I just packed up a ton of stuff to donate and would do so again for any race of victims. People are people. Americans are Americans. I would want them to do the same for me.

And Monica, I have visited some blogs of African American authors but usually don't stay or post because there are so many political posts I find insulting. You're right--I don't know how these authors feel on this exact issue.

Okay, I'm going back to packing boxes. And as Tiny Tim would say, "God bless us, everyone."

BOBROM@aol.com said...

My husband and I live in So. California (earthquake country) and we've always been told that in case of the Big One, we should be prepared to take care of ourselves for 3 - 5 days. Since we live in a suburb, it might take even longer.

I find it interesting that the Salvation Army and Operation Blessing had trucks rolling into Louisiana and Mississippi with supplies and yet no network ever covered that news. People in Mississippi and Louisiana salvaged what they could and shared with others in order to survive. Yet they focused on one area.
I also wondered how those reporters could go through New Orleans filming the horror, then go back to their hotel room to file their stories and order room service. If they could get in, why couldn't they bring in water, Pedialyte (for babies), crackers, beef jerky, diapers, something? How could you just film it and walk away without helping?
The local authorities (who knew about the levees) should have been better prepared for this emergency - it's their city. The government should help but the local government should have been there first.
Riccarla