About this blog

Andrew Locke and Bob Sullivan

From Sept. 22-27, the posts in this blog about Rita's evacuation and devastation were reported and photographed by Bob Sullivan and Andrew Locke. Sullivan, 37, is MSNBC.com's technology and consumer fraud reporter. Locke, 34, in charge of MSNBC.com's editorial strategy, was on his second hurricane blog tour.

David Friedman and Miguel Llanos

From Sept. 18-22, the posts in this blog, examining Katrina's impact on the environment, were reported and photographed by Miguel Llanos and David Friedman. Llanos, 45, is MSNBC.com's environmental reporter. Photojournalist Friedman, 35, is a multimedia producer at MSNBC.com.

Kari Huus and Jim Seida

From Sept. 10-16, the posts in this blog were reported and photographed by Kari Huus and Jim Seida. Huus, 43, has been a journalist for 20 years and a reporter with MSNBC.com since 1996. Seida, 39, has been a media editor with the Web site since 1996.

Mike Brunker and Andrew Locke mugshot

From Sept. 2-9, the posts in this blog were reported and photographed by Mike Brunker, left, and Andrew Locke. A journalist for 25 years, Brunker, 49, is MSNBC.com's West Coast news editor. Locke, 34, has been a journalist for 17 years and is currently in charge of MSNBC.com's editorial media strategy.

How you can help

How to help the victims of Hurricane Rita

How to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina

POST 100: BLOG'S END OF THE ROAD

Posted Thursday, September 29 at 12:53 pm CT by Mike Brunker.

After hundreds and hundreds of miles, dozens and dozens of interviews and 99 posts from the areas blasted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the hurricanes blog has reached the end of the road. 

A couple points before we sign off:

The blog has been a tremendous success, not just because our reporters have gone to places and conveyed stories that weren’t otherwise being told, but because it provided a direct connection with our readers and created a spirited discussion about the news that added depth to our coverage. Rest assured that we will continue to search for ways to keep the conversation going.

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RENEWED FAITH IN HUMANITY

Posted Wednesday, September 28 at 02:15 pm CT by Bob Sullivan.

Swamp boat driver Carlos Robicheaux didn't lose his home in Hurricane Rita. But 48 hours after landfall, he spent an entire day shuttling people out and back to Cameron, where Rita's wrath was worst.  050928_tug_from_bridge

There were some signs of normalcy in the midst of the chaos that engulfed southwest Louisiana. On Monday, just a stone’s throw from flooded out homes south of sweet lake, a tugboat – ironically enough the St. Andrew, based out of the Port of New Orleans – pushes barges down the Intercoastal Waterway. (Bob Sullivan / MSNBC.com)

He felt a need to see things for himself. It's a spirit I'd wish for anyone.  After Sept. 11, I felt a compulsive urge to visit Ground Zero as soon as possible, knowing TV cameras could never do justice to the scene. It was true; the destruction is so much more vast in person, so much more chilling, and well, so much more real.

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FOSTER CARE FOR MISS KITTY?

Posted Tuesday, September 27 at 07:53 pm CT by Mike Brunker.

UPDATE: Nov. 23, 2005, 10:15 a.m. PT -- Bill Harris died Monday in a Slidell, La., hospital. Click here to read Mr. Harris' obituary. Comments will be posted at the end of this blog entry.

Bill Harris, the Slidell, La., man who credits his survival during Hurricane Katrina to his beloved cat, Miss Kitty, is agonizing over long-term plans for her care amid indications that his stay at a no-animals nursing home will not be a short one.

Harris, who was moved to the Trinity Neurologic Rehabilitation Center in Slidell last week so that he could be near his mother, Jane, says his chronic kidney condition has worsened as a result of his ordeal over three days after the storm surge roared up a canal off Lake Pontchartrain and turned his condominium into kindling. That probably precludes a quick release from the nursing home, he admits.

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JOURNEY TO A RUINED HOME

Posted Tuesday, September 27 at 12:05 pm CT by msnbc.com.

CAMERON PARISH, La. -- When we finally cross the Gibbstown Bridge and drop into the valley beyond, we know right away we we’ll go no further in our rental truck unless it sprouts wings and a propeller. The road disappears into water, and there’s nothing but liquid marsh as far as the eye can see. A week ago, we would still be 10 miles from the coast. Today this is beach-front property.050927_blog_lead

Huey Mhire rides with his nephew Zeke Wainwright (not pictured) in a boat toward their homes in Grand Chanier, LA for the first time following hurricane Rita's landfall Monday. The two found both homes destroyed. (Andrew Locke / MSNBC.com)

VIDEO: Journey with Huey Mhire and his nephew Zeke Wainwright to their homes in Grand Chenier, La. to survey the damage from hurricane Rita first hand. (warning: this video contains adult language) (Andrew Locke / MSNBC.com)

As we pull up to the end of the road, we spot two men launching a flat-bottomed boat into the murky water. As they struggle to start the engine I yell out and ask to join them on what I imagined would be a short trip south. The older man yells, “Well, come on,” and Bob and I hurriedly agree to separate. I’ll take a boat ride, and he’ll stay behind to do a few more interviews and update the blog.

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'There's nothing left'

Posted Tuesday, September 27 at 08:09 am CT by Bob Sullivan.

CAMERON PARISH, La. -- Swamp boat driver Carlos Robicheaux didn't want to be here. But then, he did.

"I don't like what I see. But it's good I am seeing this as it is,” he said. “My friends will all be talking about this for years. But I saw it for myself."

Early on Monday, Robicheaux made his way out toward Cameron Parish with his swamp boat. Then he spent the day shuttling people around -- politicians, homeowners, reporters -- to inspect the destruction. The experience had him a bit shaken.

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Cattle wrangling on the bayou

Posted Monday, September 26 at 09:35 pm CT by Bob Sullivan.

SOUTH OF SWEET LAKE, La. -- Broadway plays keeps their energy by methodically adding characters to the stage; married couple, interrupted by a neighbor, who's interrupted by the garbage collector seeking financial advice, and so on.

050926_blog_cowboys_1 Cowboys try to raise a collapsed cow from the road after they had been herded north over the Gibbstown Bridge (background) just south of Sweet Water, La. Monday. (Andrew Locke / MSNBC.com)

The scene at Gibbstown Bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway, about 10 miles north of the Gulf Coast, had that kind of comic absurdity -- albeit with a tragic bent.

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'DODGED A BULLET'? NOT HERE

Posted Monday, September 26 at 12:03 pm CT by Bob Sullivan.

050926_tree_blogjpg Vehicles stream east on I-10 through damaged areas near the Louisiana border Monday. (Andrew Locke / MSNBC.com)

EAST OF BEAUMONT, Texas -- The closer we get to Louisiana, the more water and broken trees we see. So we decide to just follow the path nature lays out before us, to follow the destruction. We're pushing past Beaumont, across into Louisiana, and then down closer to the coastline.
 
In this part of the world, there are flashing police cars blocking nearly every exit from the highway. At almost every one, we see a line of cars, and at each, people are pleading to get in to see their neighborhoods. Many are turned away.

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BROKEN ART, BUT BUOYANT HEART

Posted Monday, September 26 at 12:49 am CT by Bob Sullivan.

BEAUMONT, Texas -- A life's work.  A day's destruction. They all come together in David Cargill’s back yard.

"I guess you could say you've never seen a garden like this," says David Cargill as he welcomes us into his Beaumont, Texas garden. Instead of roses and tulips, Cargill's yard is blooming with bronze statues. Wandering through his front gate, this feels like a magical place, and we are instantly surrounded by mammoth creatues that somehow still seem gentle.

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MOTHER NATURE IN A HURRY

Posted Sunday, September 25 at 04:57 pm CT by Bob Sullivan.

Accompany Dave Sankey as he returns to his Beaumont, Tx. home for the first time since hurricane Rita blew in. (Andrew Locke / MSNBC.com)

BEAUMONT, Texas -- We left Houston wondering if there were hidden damage and victims from Hurricane Rita that were really getting the world's attention. It didn't take long to find.

As we approach Beaumont, an hour north and east of Houston, we see our first signs of destruction.  Trees snapped at the roots. A 30-foot Jack-in-the-Box sign toppled over; when it did, it fell through the roof of an SUV, cutting it in half. And when we hit the city, the roads are closed. Residents can't get in, and for good reason. 

Video: Bob Sullivan talks about Beaumont destruction on MSNBC-TV.

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HEADING TO THE EYE

Posted Sunday, September 25 at 02:50 pm CT by Bob Sullivan.

HOUSTON -- It's a boiling hot morning in Houston, and the bright sun could easily make you forget there was a hurricane blowing through here 24 hours ago.   By mid-morning, there are some reports that Houston's return traffic jam is materializing, but downtown there's no evidence that last week's mess will be repeated. People smile big and laugh loud, perhaps from that sense of relief from having dodged a bullet.

Still, we're reminded by blog readers that while this storm missed the big city, it slammed into small towns. So we're leaving Houston on Sunday to see what things are really like in these little towns, to see if there are forgotten victims of Rita. 

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