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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 19:20 GMT 20:20 UK
Blogs tell human cost of Katrina
By Kevin Anderson
BBC News website

A man sits in a car with a boot full of looted beer
One blogger called on authorities to shoot looters on sight
Hundreds of survival stories are filtering out over the internet from New Orleans and the Gulf coast of Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Weblogs, pictures and even audio diaries are telling the stories behind the headlines.

There are stories of crushing loss, of anger at the looting and of relief as friends thought lost are found.

And bloggers rallied together for an international day of relief, pointing their readers to charities to help the region recover from the disaster.

Blogging from the Big Easy

Metroblogging New Orleans, part of a world network of city-based blogs, has been the source of many first person reports about the storm and recovery efforts.

Blogger Craig Giesecke waited out the storm in Tallahassee, Florida, and ran into others displaced by the storm.

"I also talked tonight with friends from Waveland (Mississippi), who stated simply that they had nothing to go back to, except maybe to sign some papers. Basically, their physical reminders of a 60-year marriage are gone," he wrote.

Minutes before, he said he had been feeling sorry for himself.

Despite all the terrible scenes and all the deaths and the tragedy, so many more folks are now focused on what's still there and what can be made workable in a surprisingly short amount of time
Craig Giesecke, Metroblogging New Orleans
Despite pictures of the deep flooding in New Orleans, parts of the city on higher ground were spared.

The bloggers have been working to confirm what is flooded and what is still on dry ground.

"It was confirmed that all the news sources that said yesterday that the quarter had 6 to 8 feet of flooding were purely false," wrote Mike Hoffman with some irritation.

"So much for responsible journalism. It's like telling me that my house just collapsed...and then saying 'Oh, sorry. Wrong neighbourhood.' Jerk," he added.

And there was a sense that the city had turned a corner today despite the stories of widespread looting and deepening desperation in some parts of the city.

"Despite all the terrible scenes and all the deaths and the tragedy, so many more folks are now focused on what's still there and what can be made workable in a surprisingly short amount of time," Mr Giesecke wrote.

"There are plenty of us who, if we can get a little gasoline and bring in generators, are all set to go back home to get rebuilding again by early next week," he said.

End of something 'precious'

Despite difficult conditions, the three bloggers behind Humid City managed to produce a series of podcasts in the wake of the hurricane as they became "refugees".

The blog chronicles their decision to leave New Orleans and their struggle to plan for a future after the hurricane.

An idyllic sunset before the storm
The bloggers at Humid City took this picture of their street before evacuating
As Hurricane Katrina bore down on the city, they decided to evacuate even though in the past they had waited out storms.

"People who don't normally freak out and leave are, well, freaking out and leaving," they wrote.

They linked to a post by Richard at Metroblogging New Orleans who wrote: "Dear Evacuation Monkeys: This one is different. You officially have my permission to freak out."

As the bloggers of Humid City prepared to leave, they posted pictures of an idyllic sunset on their street.

They wrote with grim prescience, "It's sobering to think that Monday could be the end of something precious here."

They made what they called their strategic retreat with "5 humans, 8 felines, and 1 snake", and the podcasts began.

They drove for 17 hours to West Memphis and turned on the television to watch as the storm hit.

"Everything I own, know, or love in that town teeters on the brink of being submerged. The Hundred Year Storm is putting a severe cramp in my style," they wrote.

They said that West Memphis had been transformed into a little New Orleans as "refugees" from across the city gathered to wait out the storm and its aftermath.

As they waited, they heard of the stories of flooding and looting. They used the blog to find friends and the podcasts to lay into the looters.

Now at least one of the bloggers at Humid City, who goes by the nom de blog Loki De Carabas, plans to head to New York with his fiancée to live and work.

But he promises to be back in time for Mardi Gras.

Survivors' stories

Jon Donley, the editor of New Orleans Times-Picayune website Nola.com, has been posting the stories of survivors on his blog.

Petrol station price board
Bloggers are expressing outrage at what they call petrol 'price gouging'
One story is of inner city teacher Diana Boylston who had been trying to help two students whose home life was so difficult that the week before the hurricane they had asked to come live with her.

They were staying with a neighbour who refused to evacuate to the Superdome stadium because of a bad experience during a previous tropical storm.

They spoke early Sunday morning, but she hasn't heard from them since.

"From a hotel room in Houston, I sit tortured in from of the TV hoping to see a shot of their building or a face," she said.

There were also reports in the blog of evacuees in hotels in Tallahassee being asked to leave because their rooms were reserved months in advance for the big college football game there this weekend.

Miami Herald reports say the same thing happened in 1995 after Hurricane Opal.

The Red Cross is setting up shelters across the region to accommodate the evacuees.


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