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

'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.

At a few places, we see drivers choosing "alternate routes," skipping the exits, and jumping the medians to get into their towns.

Many just want to know if they have a house or not. 

Some folks are being told they won't have power for three to four weeks, it and might be that long before they are allowed to re-enter the area. 

This is not a place that dodged a bullet. 

Television has incredible power, and influence. We were talking this morning about the overall reaction to Hurricane Rita, this sense of relief that everyone was talking about during the weekend. 
But only last night the first pictures were coming out of Cameron Parish, La., revealing that near the eye of Hurricane Rita, entire communities were swept off the map.  Only now we're getting a sense that things might be even worse than we imagine when we get there -- if we can get there.
But by Monday, it seems much of the nation's attention has moved on, in part because the initial reaction to the storm was that it spared Galveston and Houston, where most of the reporters had holed up. 

The sad truth is, Andrew and I discuss, if there aren't pictures, it didn't happen.  And if there aren't pictures right away, people tend to assume everything is fine, and move on.

That was part of the problem with Katrina, too -- immediately after the storm, because it was downgraded to a Category 4 just before landfall, there were reports that "it could have been worse." It took a good 24 hours to get out pictures showing the truth, and those turned out to be a critical 24 hours. By then, some of the nation's attention had turned and the focus of government officials had been un-focused.

On a smaller scale, the same is true here. So before we leave, we're going to to try to get as close as we can to Cameron, and some towns along the way, to make sure there are pictures of these people and these places.

MAIN PAGE NEXT POST Cattle wrangling on the bayou

Email this EMAIL THIS

TRACKBACKS

Trackbacks are links to weblogs that reference this post. Like comments, trackbacks do no appear until approved by us. The trackback URL for this post is: http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b0aa69e200d834625bc453ef