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

A GIANT GHOST TOWN

Posted Friday, September 23 at 02:04 pm CT by Bob Sullivan.

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A man walks a dog on a deserted downtown Houston street at what would normally be rush hour. (Andrew Locke / MSNBC.com)

HOUSTON -- Everyone, it seems, is gone. America's fourth-largest city appears to be the world's largest ghost town. We walk near City Hall and find almost no one.

At noon, the wind is already whistling through empty streets, an eerie noise, often the only noise that breaks the silence. It's a strong enough breeze to make you hold your hat, and gets stronger minute by minute, like a train approaching from a distance. How loud will it get?

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ESCAPING THE ESCAPE

Posted Friday, September 23 at 12:44 am CT by Bob Sullivan.

HOUSTON – It looks a bit like a poorly maintained roadside picnic area, or a lightly-attended football tailgate party. There are even people sitting with their dogs on pickup tailgates, drinking beer.

But the drivers who lined up Thursday afternoon, just off an exit on Texas Route 59, haven’t parked there looking for a party. They were escaping the escape. That's where we meet Vickey and Donnie Ward, and their three dogs.

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A shocking sight from on high

Posted Thursday, September 22 at 07:03 pm CT by Bob Sullivan.

HOUSTON -- There were audible gasps as our Continental flight skimmed over Houston just before landing.  The traffic jams covering every route out of the city were staggering, cars lined up all the way to the horizon, like spokes of a bicycle wheel that's not spinning.

The great escape from Houston was on, and we -- Andrew, myself and an airliner full of people wondering why they were dropping into the city everyone else seemed to be leaving.

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For many, a double-whammy

Posted Thursday, September 22 at 04:08 pm CT by msnbc.com.

LACOMBE, La. -- The blog baton is about to be handed off to our colleagues in Houston, but we wanted to leave readers with a sense of the frustration and heartache caused first by Katrina and now by Rita.

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A hitch in the Miss Kitty saga

Posted Thursday, September 22 at 03:38 pm CT by Mike Brunker.

Many readers of Katrinablog have posted in the last two weeks wondering what has become of Bill Harris and Miss Kitty, the “miracle cat” that he credits with helping to save his life. Unfortunately, the answer is that a long-term reunion between owner and pet appears to be at least several months off.

Harris was transferred on Wednesday from the hospital in Hattiesburg, Miss., where he had been recovering from the trauma of Hurricane Katrina, to the Trinity Neurologic Rehabilitation Center in his hometown of Slidell, La.

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Another night at the 'Hill Hotel'

Posted Thursday, September 22 at 02:51 pm CT by Miguel Llanos.

SORRENTO, La. -- We had to pull back from New Orleans yesterday, and once again we had Rita to thank. Two MSNBC.com colleagues are en route to Houston and we need to send them our two satellite phones.

Overnight shipping out of New Orleans didn’t seem like an option so we headed back to Baton Rouge.

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A silver lining in the muck

Posted Thursday, September 22 at 10:59 am CT by Miguel Llanos.

NEW ORLEANS -- One of our last stops before wrapping up is one of the pumping stations that have been sending New Orleans sewage and sediment into Lake Pontchartrain, a huge body of water whose ecosystem was nearly wiped out until a group of citizens organized to clean it up in the 1990s.

To get there we had to drive through neighborhoods deserted except for powerline crews and rescue workers still searching for any survivors on streets only recently emptied of floodwaters.

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The good, the bad and the gators

Posted Wednesday, September 21 at 09:16 pm CT by Miguel Llanos.

A young American alligator approaches the photographer’s camera during a tour of Hurricane Katrina damage in Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. Click “Play” above to hear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist James Harris describe how wildlife and land were impacted by the storm.

BAYOU SAUVAGE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, La. -- It’s not where I would have expected to find young alligators hanging out. But the spot between a rail line knocked out by Katrina and an abandoned spur was where they’d been since the storm blew through.

For James Harris, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who found them, it was a pretty darn good sign that the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge would come back to life.

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Restless over Rita at air base

Posted Wednesday, September 21 at 12:15 pm CT by Miguel Llanos.

BELLE CHASSE, La. --  We just woke up from a night’s sleep on cots at the Naval Air Station in this city south of New Orleans. All local hotels are booked or closed so we’re happy to have cots for the night.

We’ve got to be at a wildlife refuge by 8 a.m. but we have a first priority: Find out if Hurricane Rita is going to cause us problems. Rita’s been the talk of the hangar we sleep in as well as the communications center shared by media and guardsmen.

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Breathing foul air

Posted Wednesday, September 21 at 09:44 am CT by Miguel Llanos.

Dr. Thea James cares for a patient at a mobile triage center set up outside West Jefferson Medical Center in Jefferson Parish. James is part of a medical disaster response team from Boston. Click “Play” to hear James describe how she and her patients are dealing with living and working in a disaster area.

MARRERO, La. -- Our entry about the refinery spill in Meraux touched on health concerns from contaminated areas like that one. We decided to follow up by visiting a medical triage center that has treated several thousand people.

Retracing our steps back towards New Orleans, we end up at the West Jefferson Medical Center in Jefferson Parish, where tan, MASH-style tents have gone up on a patch of grass near the emergency room.

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