Hurricane Rita is starting to smack this city around. Black clouds have hovered all day, letting loose the occasional burst of rain and gust of wind. I'm the only reporter left, and thus had to write a "state of the city" story today. That involved driving around the city and stopping in at the bus terminal and the levees, and trolling for stubborn citizens who aren't moving out (like me). Bingo on all points, plus I caught a mayoral press conference on the radio.
I filed the story, then hit the bar at the Sheraton Hotel where lots of journos hang out. I overheard one of an NYTimes photographer talking about a levee breach in the Lower Ninth Ward, and I called Jessica the photographer and we went to check it out. We had to sweet-talk our way past one checkpoint, but got there right as the sun was setting -- sure enough, water was pooling behind a spot in the levee that had broken during Katrina and subsequently repaired. The hole was in the levee and likely to expand overnight as the tide rose, a councilman from a nearby parish told me.
I called in the update, Jessica got the shots, then we tried to back out along the road on which we came in. It was pitch black and I drove off the road into the toxic mud. The NYTimes guys, who were also there of course, helped push us out. We went back to the Sheraton and used their WiFi account to file Jessica's photos. What champs.
Friday, September 23
When the Levee Breaks
Star reporter Andy Sullivan, Reuters' last man in Nawlins, is filing dynamite stories and photos from the battered city: