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New Orleans Photo Essay
September 9, 2005 4:39 AM   Subscribe

Yes, it's another Katrina post - sorry, but... this is a great photo essay from with New Orleans before, during and after Katrina. Besides some really interesting photography, it goes some way to showing just why people didn't leave before, or immediately after the hurricane - the sense of normality is astounding, given what we know now...
posted by benzo8 (104 comments total)

 
thanks. I am reminded that a number of years ago I ran a series on the WWII Holocaust and was often asked why the Jews of Germany did not leave when it seemed clear that things were getting bad and would only worsen.
posted by Postroad at 4:48 AM on September 9, 2005


Now THAT was a post.

Thank you!
posted by konolia at 5:14 AM on September 9, 2005


I have seen a minimum of photos through this whole thing, so this was the first time I could really get a glance at what actually happened. Unbelievable that on sept 9th this whole thing is still a nightmare.
posted by Acey at 5:22 AM on September 9, 2005


Great post. Thanks.
posted by pardonyou? at 5:28 AM on September 9, 2005


Wow! Amazing stuff.
posted by notme at 5:34 AM on September 9, 2005


Hm. The site doesn't work me... I can't get past the first image in either FF or IE.

But I applaud the concept; this is something I've been thinking about; I have amazing photos of New Orleans (none in digital format, or I would have made a gallery) that can only scratch the surface of the all the great things about the city. It's painful to see so much insult added to misery and disaster in terms of how the city is being depicted now.
posted by taz at 5:38 AM on September 9, 2005


This is feeling more like MeFi again.
posted by NinjaPirate at 5:44 AM on September 9, 2005


This is a very good post. Thank you.
posted by reflecked at 5:50 AM on September 9, 2005


Viz taz, the site bogs down and stops working along around pic 25. But up through there, it's a nice photo essay. Worth futzing around with to see the whole thing, I'm speculating.
posted by lodurr at 5:50 AM on September 9, 2005


Worked all the way through for myself (firefox)

Definitely worth persevering if you've got the time, great set of photo's.
posted by lloyder at 5:54 AM on September 9, 2005


maybe it's my firewall... Nothing will show for me but the very first image, and the teeny thumbnails when you mouseover the squares. Clicking anywhere takes me nowhere.
posted by taz at 5:55 AM on September 9, 2005


I just used the >> button beside the Play button above the pictures when I first went through it with FireFox - does that work for you taz?
posted by benzo8 at 6:02 AM on September 9, 2005


The caption for this image reads, "People grabbed everything and anything they could. It was embarassing to see this."

Huh?
posted by Necker at 6:04 AM on September 9, 2005


Excellent post. Thank you!
posted by bluesky43 at 6:05 AM on September 9, 2005


Wow, so many familiar places.

I agree, excellent post.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:12 AM on September 9, 2005


No, benzo8, the arrow doesn't work for me... I just get a message in the status bar "transferring data from data.oremetrics.com..." but nothing ever happens (same thing when I try to use the little boxes). :(

When I first load the page, it says "Read images.kodakgallery.com", and if I click "play", I just get "javascript:void(0)". I even tried futzing with the url, but it always sticks with the one same boarded-window image. Woo-woo weird.
posted by taz at 6:15 AM on September 9, 2005


incredible. better than any news coverage i've seen so far.
posted by geeky at 6:21 AM on September 9, 2005


that was really gripping, excellent narrative
posted by poppo at 6:21 AM on September 9, 2005


Necker, I think he was referring to the bags of Footlocker gear. Though the front of the Footlocker store looked secure.
posted by tomplus2 at 6:23 AM on September 9, 2005


On Bourbon Street, there was on individual who kept yelling at the top of his lungs: "Hell is coming! All of you are going to get f*@#ed! Everyone is going to die!" I didn't like this guy...

Prophet Tiresias.
posted by Miko at 6:23 AM on September 9, 2005


Fantastic post.

[This is good]

Thanks for the pictures, Alvaro. Many of these are of National Geographic quality. This photo sequence is worth thousands of hours of noisy, blustering "professional" media.
posted by loquacious at 6:27 AM on September 9, 2005


Great pictures that I wish had no need to have ever been taken.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:29 AM on September 9, 2005


The arc of the story is almost as amazing as the photos. He goes from describing the almost festive feeling after it seemed that the worst had been averted, to surveying the damage almost as art, to judging the looters, to practically cheering the cops' beating of a looter, to gawking at the floodwaters, to showing pictures of "help coming in from everywhere" (in at least two phots), to being shocked at the masses at the convention center, to resorting to breaking into an attempting to hot-wire vehicles himself.

Incredible stuff.
posted by psmealey at 6:38 AM on September 9, 2005


I noticed two important things that tempered my anger about this whole fiasco. First, although the levees broke on Tuesday morning, these pictures show the water didn't reach the french quarter/downtown until Wednesday. Until then, for all this photographer could see, it looked as though the city had been spared. So I can understand then how the initial priorities may have been clean up and restore order, rather than rescue victims. Of course this is the impression from the (mostly above sea-level) downtown. Who knows what it looked like elsewhere at that point.

But the shots of the thousands waiting for phantom busses at the convention centre made me angry again.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:51 AM on September 9, 2005


Superb post - terrific storytelling from the photographer. He captured a real sense of the 2 separate events. Very very nice.
posted by Jazznoisehere at 6:53 AM on September 9, 2005


Great post. Thanks.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:56 AM on September 9, 2005


tomplus2 - Ahh, right. For some reason, the first time, I read that caption to mean, "People grabbed everything and anything they had. It was embarassing to see this." But now it makes more sense. The photographer is referring to looting I guess.
posted by Necker at 7:00 AM on September 9, 2005


I was one of those people asking "Why didn't they leave?" I get it now. Thanks - fantastic post.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:05 AM on September 9, 2005


Got it at last! (firewall thing, it was.)

It's an incredible photo essay; the early pictures were so familiar to me... Like everyday life when I used to live there, plus a little hurricane damage... And then the progression of flooding, looting, fire, and panic. Wow. It is really quite something to see it all from one viewpoint, one "eye" as opposed to scattered images from here and there.
posted by taz at 7:07 AM on September 9, 2005


Excellent post, great photo gallery. My favorite caption:

The copulation of the devastation of a local landmark and the remarkable sunset created a direct contrast of how things really were.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:12 AM on September 9, 2005


Wow.
posted by delmoi at 7:13 AM on September 9, 2005


Fantastic. I love how he goes from judging people stealing shoes to breaking into and trying to hotwire cars. And, as others have said, this really clears up a lot of questions I've had in the back of my mind about the how's and why's of the events.
posted by odinsdream at 7:26 AM on September 9, 2005


A+++
posted by pez_LPhiE at 7:28 AM on September 9, 2005


I noticed two important things that tempered my anger about this whole fiasco.... I can understand then how the initial priorities may have been clean up and restore order, rather than rescue victims.

This was all reported pretty accurately in the coverage. Things did not start to get hairy until the flooding began Tuesday. Wednesday it started hitting the fan, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday reached Biblical levels of suffering. Not until late Saturday and Sunday did substantial aid and systemic evacuation really get under way. There is a MeFi thread on Katrina timelines, some of which may be helpful.

It seems helpful (to me, anyway) to think of this as two separate disasters for NoLa: the hurricane, which was effectively handled using local resources, and then the resulting but delayed levee breaks/flooding, which required federal-level support -- and did not get it. I don't like hearing Chertoff saying "we saw headlines in the papers on Tuesday saying 'it's over!'" Maybe I'm naive, but people in positions like his should be getting their information more directly.
posted by Miko at 7:29 AM on September 9, 2005


Some guy paid for their gas (and five others) on his credit card. That guy would be on my Christmas list for several generations.

and: Gas station didn't take cash? Huh?
posted by hal9k at 7:47 AM on September 9, 2005


Really great "post"... his "captions" really brought "it" all to "life".
posted by cusack at 7:48 AM on September 9, 2005


Thanks, excellent, worth all of the other K posts put together.
posted by grahamwell at 7:50 AM on September 9, 2005


hal9k; the gas station was probably not privately-owned, and the manager in another location was concerned about having cash on-site and losing it all. Credit cards, though, transmit their data near-real-time over phone lines or satellite, and the company is sure to get the money.
posted by odinsdream at 7:52 AM on September 9, 2005


Top post. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
posted by squealy at 7:54 AM on September 9, 2005


think of this as two separate disasters for NoLa: the hurricane, which was effectively handled using local resources, and then the resulting but delayed levee breaks/flooding, which required federal-level support -- and did not get it.

Exactly. That's pretty much how I'd been thinking of it from the time the news footage of people at the convention center first started to break to the national airwaves. It seemed clear then that the City and State were not equipped or able to plan for and deal with a crisis of that magnitude. But the picture is easily distorted when so much blame and conjecture (and misleading "fact") is thrown around after the fact. These pictures and the accompanying narrative pretty much bring all that back into perspective.
posted by psmealey at 7:56 AM on September 9, 2005


That was a great record of the progress of the whole thing. Really brings it home how there were distinct waves to this disaster.
posted by Decani at 8:01 AM on September 9, 2005


This was amazing. Thanks.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:16 AM on September 9, 2005


Amazing. Thanks for a most excellent post.
posted by LadyBonita at 8:17 AM on September 9, 2005


Glad he got those ten pair of shoes from Foot Locker and Foot Action. One needs to look stylish before the family is fed and evacuated.

Good post.
posted by dhoyt at 8:20 AM on September 9, 2005


I would think shoes would be near the top of one's priorities list during a crisis like this, what with having to trudge through all the waste water and storm debris. Or would you be happier if they looted within their means, like from Payless or something?
posted by gigawhat? at 8:35 AM on September 9, 2005


Look, I don't really want to defend looters to the point of idiocy. I'm not interested in standing up too much for the fraction of people that took a TV or jewelry. Admittedly, it's not easily morally defensible.

But I'm also not all that quick to judge the shoe and clothing takers and grocery store looters. Poor people have shitty shoes; I mean, you go to Payless and get the $7 sale shoes and wear them for months, as long as they'll hold together. After walking through water and debris with 'em, they're useless as shoes. Now you see people helping themselves to nice, comfortable, dry athletic shoes. You look down at your feet and see your smelly old raggedy waterlogged Payless kicks. Can I really say I wouldn't take some new Adidas, too? I'm not sure. I'm not sure anyone who is accustomed to having his or her needs met can ever say for certain that they wouldn't do this, given the same conditions and the opportunity.

Then, too, there's the possibility that you could sell or trade the surplus you've taken to other people that need or want them, for cash (which may help you escape), or for something you need more. My cousin, who is sheltering some evacuees, said they reported buying Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts from a looter. He had taken them from the store and then went to the I-10 bridge, where these people were stuck. He sold them for $10 each. People bought them because the shirts were clean and dry, unlike the clothing they'd been wearing for three days. Defensible? Geez, I dunno. The looters got some cash, the people got some shirts. Isn't this kind of thing the same behavior corporations advocate? Isn't this the 'market' solving a problem? Corral a resource, take initiative, bring it to where there's a felt need, sell it, profit!!!?

And finally, there's the simple Hobbesian human nature of it all. Resources are limited, things are getting bad. What do you do? Hoard. Take all you can carry. It's a human response you see time and time again. You see it at Toys R Us in December. Whenever people feel they might not get what they need -- and certainly, people had reason to feel that way -- they tend to just grab what they can even if they don't need it.

Like I said, I'm not so much defending this behavior as making an effort to examine and understand it. It would seem more helpful to try and understand it, to learn from it, than it is to flatly condemn it. Simple condemnation does nothing to prevent it happening in the next disaster.
posted by Miko at 8:39 AM on September 9, 2005


Understood, Miko. Grabbing food—if and only if it seems like you are stuck and do not have any food of your own to feed your family—hell, even the NoLa cops looked the other way. Hotwiring a car? Pretty shitty, really, since you're stealing outright from an individual, but the idea is still survival-based.

But c'mon. You're telling me the dude with three bags of Foot Locker shoes was taking them while he mused on the efficacy of certain shoes vs. their resistance to stormwater? Or while remembering the Trail of Tears? Or considering concepts of urban gentrification? Or überlibertarian attachments to real estate?

I think people act irresponsibly during chaos because they know it's often a consequence-free evironment.

During the Rodney King riots, people were making off with TVs & shoes and you know damn well it had nothing to do with survival, or getting out of town, or using them for barter. It was a misguided sense of entitlement + greed, and I've never heard a convincing arguement in support of those things, even from any post-Rodney King black community leaders. In fact, the rationalizations usually come from white folks contorting themselves a little too hard to explain it away.

I've got nothing but sympathy for those too poor to escape, and especially for those who had to take food from stores because their government was too slow to evacuate them to places with food. But it's dishonest to give the shoe guy a free pass, I think.
posted by dhoyt at 8:56 AM on September 9, 2005


Well put, Miko. I hadn't really ever thought about a perspective like that about why people would loot so many clothes and shoes and such. And how useful and even required to live survive they'd be to many people. And how sharing those ill-gotten resources could ease the misery of many.

Food, water, medicine and even beer I can understand easily.
posted by loquacious at 8:57 AM on September 9, 2005


No sense debating morality with someone who feels that property is more important than black lives. People full of hate are best ignored in forums like this.

Fantastic post -- like others have said, this answers many questions. Not to spoil anything, but the the eye of the hurricane interlude was amazing.
posted by sudama at 8:58 AM on September 9, 2005


But it's dishonest to give the shoe guy a free pass, I think.

(Not that you specifically were giving him one, Miko)
posted by dhoyt at 8:58 AM on September 9, 2005


No sense debating morality with someone who feels that property is more important than black lives.

I could argue there's no point in debating with someone who thinks new Foot Locker shoes (mere "property") are more important than food.
posted by dhoyt at 9:00 AM on September 9, 2005


(You're more than welcome to sit out this debate if it makes you uncomfortable, sudama)
posted by dhoyt at 9:00 AM on September 9, 2005


I could argue there's no point in debating with someone who thinks new Foot Locker shoes (mere "property") are more important than food.

You could if you ignored the greatly increased survival value, and yes, economic value that those shoes represent in that situation.

I think people act irresponsibly during chaos because they know it's often a consequence-free evironment.

Maybe that's just what YOU would do, in that place. My supposition of your motives in this instance is at least as warranted as yours of theirs.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:04 AM on September 9, 2005


During the Rodney King riots, people were making off with TVs & shoes and you know damn well it had nothing to do with survival, or getting out of town, or using them for barter.

So... if there is a tragedy in a mostly white city, and we see people looting on TV, are you going to compare it to the Rodney King riots?
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:06 AM on September 9, 2005


You're telling me the dude with three bags of Foot Locker shoes was taking them while he mused on the efficacy of certain shoes vs. their resistance to stormwater? Or while remembering the Trail of Tears? Or considering concepts of urban gentrification? Or überlibertarian attachments to real estate?

I wouldn't say I'd be thinking on this level. But I might be thinking "Ooh-- better shoes, better than the ruined ones I'm wearing. Oooh--take a few extra, I bet I can sell or trade them or give them to my friends or family. Ooh- if I don't grab some now, these other people are going to take it all and I won't get any."

As well as "..and there's very little chance I'm going to be punished for this." - as you point out.

Again, just saying that the behavior has motive, purpose, and rationale. And many of those who cry out how terrible this is would do the same, were they in the same situation.
posted by Miko at 9:09 AM on September 9, 2005


So... if there is a tragedy in a mostly white city, and we see people looting on TV, are you going to compare it to the Rodney King riots?

Sure, especially if people in City X are being randomly assaulted, and non-survival-critical items are being grabbed out of store windows, and if people are giving in to their own negative impulses instead of helping those around them, or helping their own family, or helping the volunteers, or helping quell the insanity.
posted by dhoyt at 9:11 AM on September 9, 2005


[this is good, but not in a good way]
posted by Hands of Manos at 9:15 AM on September 9, 2005


Great journalism, really brings into focus how crap the popular media is. Great post.
posted by Idiot Mittens at 9:21 AM on September 9, 2005


Excellent post - thank you.
posted by rawfishy at 9:25 AM on September 9, 2005


Thanks.
posted by safetyfork at 9:33 AM on September 9, 2005


Excellent post.
posted by Prospero at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2005


great post!

even from any post-Rodney King black community leaders

huh?
posted by mr.marx at 9:46 AM on September 9, 2005


... someone who thinks new Foot Locker shoes (mere "property") are more important than food.

Also, dhoyt, you don't know whether that choice was an option.

People are gathering animals. Given an appropriately bad situation, our basic instincts to gather will kick in. You've got to "gather" something; shoes may not be a rational thing to take (though sonofsiam does have a point), but by that time, in a scene of increasing chaos and decreasing human rationality, you can't expect people to make rational decisions all the time. Seeing competition for the shoes is liable to make some people (based on what I know about personality theory, I'd guess over 80% of people) feel a strong urge to get some while they can, before there's none to get -- regardless of whether they have utility.

And I could extend sonofsiam's rationalistic argument, too; some subset of people are going to be thinking about barter value. They're going to be thinking that they've got to look out for their own. (That's how most people get raised in America these days, after all -- it's part of the capitalist ethos, love it or hate it. "Greed is good," as many a capitalist proudly dittoed c. 1987.)

You're a student of economics (casually, at least); you must know that things have the value that people give them. Hell, parts of Italy used chewing gum as currency for several years in the '70s, due to a shortage of paper and coin currency.

Looting is wrong, yada. But I don't find it particularly surprising or even disheartening. Violence, on the other hand -- that I think we can have a much more interesting discussion about...
posted by lodurr at 9:54 AM on September 9, 2005


The idea of condemning looters of shoe stores, while our country is being looted of billions of dollars by government contractors makes my head explode.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2005


Great photos and captions.

On the looting - the only thing I don't understand about taking things like tv's and computers and rafts loaded with stuff is where are you going to store it all - or maybe those who took that kind of stuff at the time still didn't think they would have to leave their homes...

Anyway, correct me if I'm wrong, but I guess the shop owners are going to have to get their stock replaced and insurance compensation anyway, because of the flooding. They wouldn't be able to collect or much less sell that stuff even if it had all remained in place. I know it's not a pretty or sophisticated thing to do to take even things that are not strictly necessary, but if it's not going to change the situation for the stores, then what's the big deal in the end?
posted by funambulist at 10:10 AM on September 9, 2005


the photos are really compelling and the eye of the hurricane gave me chills. i could have done without some of the judgmental commentary, however.
posted by centrs at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2005


Wow, I mean, WOW. What a great post. Thanks for it, I wish I could thank him personally. That was amazing. It's weird how slowly it all happened.
posted by aacheson at 10:39 AM on September 9, 2005


Looting is wrong, yada. But I don't find it particularly surprising or even disheartening. Violence, on the other hand -- that I think we can have a much more interesting discussion about...

No, I agree. Looting inanimate objects pales compared to the idea of an all out war in the streets. And as bad as it is, at least enough have kept cool enough heads not to kill each other in great numbers. That aspect could've been much much worse had the military not descended on the scene at long last.

And again, a great post. What other photoblog/essays really compare? I haven't seen any others out there with the same quality.
posted by dhoyt at 10:54 AM on September 9, 2005


I would condemn someone, ereshkigal45, but I can only condemn one person at a time. Don't make things difficult.

There are other apologist arguments to be made, such as the likelihood that the broken windows were just more damage with the flood coming in, and the merch was going to be waterlogged and junked anyway. Part of the point I've tried to make here I've already said (and reposted):

I'm saying perhaps that the hurricane aftermath created in an instant a microcosm of the conditions of the ghetto. Economic disinvestment. Public protection absent. Collective efficacy smashed. I think this is a lesson from which we can learn a lot.

Even the white photographer ended up "finding" a truck to get his ass out of town. He had a photograph of a couple of white dudes with a distinct post-college air rolling a display case, which a later picture showed came from the looted Winn-Dixie. Lesson? Even white folks can loot when desperation grows high enough. I have no idea what survival value a display case might have, but I'm willing to entertain creative ideas. But we also see black folks in his photographs, looting from the beginning of the flooding and obvious decline in law-enforcement capability and response. Lesson? Black folks are probably closer to that desperation point, even before the disaster.

Then we have the arsonists, which is simply inexcusable. It might even have been tactical, to divert resources from other areas they wanted to loot. At some point, looting crosses the line from survival to criminal, and at this point, it's horribly immoral. The resources that are being taken away from life-or-death rescues to fight a fire and dampen disorder were stolen by the looters who crossed this line, and I don't have any compunctions about condemning them, white or black.

I don't think dhoyt was wrong to bring up the 1992 LA riots, because if you check my reference, so did I -- and I was crude enough about it to offend someone. I had a point, though, and I think dhoyt has a similar one. In any case, a valid one. As Pandagon put it, responding to David Brooks writing about social despair in New Orleans from his own perspective,

that's a liberal argument about economics disguised as conservative finger-wagging

It can come across either way, depending on context. I'm not so sure that both aren't at some level warranted, because I've never been entirely signed on to the progressive idea that people are products of their social circumstance. That's a Hegelian view, but Hobbes had another, and you can't say it's completely invalid. People make choices. Some of those choices are constrained by circumstance, but not all.

The Charmaine Neville interview is another example, perhaps closer to the bone. Her tiny group was harassed by criminals and feared for their own lives, but held things together as long as they could. She was shocked at herself when she had to commit a crime to get out alive. She was angry, shocked, and confused that there were young men in her group who became so angry and frustrated they took pot shots at passing rescue choppers. It's a descent from civility that nobody should have to go through.

Let me reiterate what I've said. Looters who went beyond grabbing food for survival took lives. Indirectly, but yes. I don't think I can say it any more plainly. If only they had taken that initiative and energy and devoted it to getting out of the city, like our photographer did, because the authorities sure as hell weren't doing shit about that problem.

Wait, I guess I didn't confine myself to condemning one person at a time. Crap. I'm sorry.
posted by dhartung at 11:20 AM on September 9, 2005


Very nice post. Also, that's an interesting and apt comment Postroad. Reading this bit that he wrote about being outside the convention centre, "And it was evident that Andy and I were merely two specs of salt in a sea of pepper. Not only would we have to wait forever, but more than anything, we would probably suffer dire conditions after it would be obvious that we wouldn't "fit in".", disturbs me on not a few levels.
One can make analogies to rich-vs-poor, white-vs-black, the pogrom of World War 2... Everyday on my way to work I get to pass through Vancouver's Skid Row and I see people hanging around, cut off from most others through apathy, money, social status, all left to die through their own devices. Not too much different from the impression I get looking at (specifically) pic # 193.
In my opinion, I really don't think that it matters whether it's their "fault" or not that they're in the situation that they're in, it's unjust that anyone suffer that way, which bothers me. Seeing spectres of the past and all that.
Did I mention nice find, benzo8? Made me think. Thanks.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:21 AM on September 9, 2005


The resources that are being taken away from life-or-death rescues to fight a fire and dampen disorder were stolen by the looters who crossed this line.

I disagree. The resources to maintain social order should have been in place from moment one, since these are predictable responses to disaster. They should not have been confused with or conflated with the resources dedicated to saving lives. One thing I have learned from witnessing this is that, to respond to a disaster of this magnitude, you need not only enough people, but they need to be usefully divided, and within each division people need to stay focused on their primary responsibility. Resources become spread too thin, to the point of breaking, when police officers are expected to save lives, feed people, arrest people, fight fires, prevent looting, collect the dead, evacuate people, patrol wealthy neighborhoods, and serve as communications central. Their role was not defined, they tried to do it all, and they simply could not. In the meantime, because the other personnel failed to materialize, they had to continue doing it all and could not maintain the order that is traditional police work.
posted by Miko at 12:25 PM on September 9, 2005


These photos brought the devastation of Katrina home as no amount of media coverage could.

Thank you, benzo8.
posted by deborah at 12:27 PM on September 9, 2005


Great photos and well laid out, but didn't like the commentary. Judgmental and it just rubbed me the wrong way.

Good to see personal photos though.
posted by unsweet at 12:35 PM on September 9, 2005


Amazing. I just spent 2 (very worthwhile) hours poring through the photos and reading the commentary.
posted by melixxa600 at 1:09 PM on September 9, 2005


So, um, is it too late to start believing?
posted by schroedinger at 4:04 PM on September 9, 2005


I considered making a new post with this, but read mathowie's stern warning and thought twice.

A hurrican chaser from the UK has some stunning photographs, video, and commentary up in a thread on the UK Weatherworld Forum.

Best photos I've seen yet. Video is on page 3, and pics are on page 3 through 6.
posted by pmbuko at 4:16 PM on September 9, 2005


This post almost made me late for work this morning because it was just so amazing. We haven't had this kind of media coverage, and it's a shame. Why can't the media do this kind of reporting?

After the news came that the hurricane had obliterated the Gulf Coast, I tuned in to see if I could catch a glimpse of my old neighborhood (Point Cadet in Biloxi). The media showed teasing little bits of flyover footage but nothing you could really "use." Why can't they just show you extended flyover footage? Is that so unreasonable? I'd rather thirty minutes of footage and commentary on what I'm seeing. Show me what happened. Instead they just blab on and on and on. Or else they get Oprah-style "interviews" of hysterical survivors.

I still have no idea whether my neighborhood is gone or not. I can only assume that it is since the media has told me that the place has been "obliterated." Google Maps hasn't documented the area yet.
posted by meh at 5:23 PM on September 9, 2005


alrighty then, forget the occasionally broken english from a non-native, that photo essay is the best journalism i've ever seen in my life. holy smokes. thank you for this.
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:49 PM on September 9, 2005


Miko, I'm sure we agree on having sufficient personnel. But even sufficient is finite.

These are not arguments in conflict. Government should provide more resources in situations like this, and people shouldn't loot. Of course when A doesn't happen B often does. But shrugging it off as "predictable behavior" is a kind of cynicism about human nature I want no part of.
posted by dhartung at 9:12 PM on September 9, 2005


This was amazing. Great find. Thanks for sharing.
posted by dejah420 at 9:45 PM on September 9, 2005


I'm not going to fully defend the main stream media, but there are good photos coming from them, too. Look at what the washington post has put online.

And as to the comment about compating this to the 1992 L.A. Riots -- I think the comparison is apt in terms of the size of the disrupted area, the types of civil disorder found and the response of the government (police, national guard, firemen), and the extended duration of the situation, though the New Orleans one isn't even yet settled.
posted by nep at 5:36 AM on September 10, 2005


Looting: One person opens Winn-Dixie or Walmart because they have to have food and water. Once it's open, others help themselves, and then looting becomes opportunistic and mob mentality kicks in. It's pretty hard to walk past a "free" tv, especially if you're poor, and you know the chance won't roll around again, especially when you see others with loot, and you think "If they get loot, I might as well". Maybe somebody really needed shoes, and opened up Foot Locker. But the looting of jewelry stores, electronics stores, etc. is just greed.

It took resources away from rescues, so it's especially wrong. Of course, Presidential visits grounded helicopter rescues. I think that's pretty questionable, as well.

Morally, the looters of non-essential goods offend me deeply. As do the leaders who couldn't and wouldn't get the job done and save people's lives, and treat the people of New Orleans humanely.
posted by theora55 at 7:24 AM on September 10, 2005


My SO said something to me a few weeks ago -- before all this shit came down. She pointed out that in our "natural" state, we just go out and get things: We kill game; we pick edible flora; we plant seeds and harvest them. "Selling" and "buying" things are not inherent in our nature.

In our "normal", modern state, we're surrounded by plenty all the time. Stores are full of things that we eat, wear, use for pleasure. But we can't just take them -- we have to buy them.

It's a fine line -- a fine boundary -- between our carefully, elaborately created cultural world, where we sell and buy and work and pay, and the state in which we evolved, wherein we hunted and gathered. The analogies from hunting and gathering to modern, economic life are real, but they're highly elaborated. It should be no surprise to us that they break under strain.
posted by lodurr at 8:01 AM on September 10, 2005


lodurr, hunting and gathering is not a natural state. They're just as learned as working and buying. Interesting theory, but your SO was not correct. Remove consequences and people will take advantage.
posted by pmbuko at 8:14 AM on September 10, 2005


"the looters of non-essential goods offend me deeply"

Can I ask why it offends you deeply?

Why is the looting thing such a touchstone in the American reaction to this catastrophe? Most of the people I have spoken to over here (UK) seem to think the stock will be of no use to anyone and the insurance companies will not even notice the loss in the billions they will be paying out, so if some poor bastard who's stuck in hell on earth wants to get a free teevee then who the fuck cares.

To head off the derail, I mean the walking past the store getting a TV looting, not the stopping truck at gunpoint looting which has other security implications.

Not snarking, just find it hard to understand the level of offence that people have over this.
posted by fullerine at 9:06 AM on September 10, 2005


find it hard to understand the level of offence that people have over this.

fact1=Government actively denies aid to American disaster victims
fact2=American citizens then help themselves
belief1=Government is interested in it's citizens' (i.e. MY) well-being

resolve_cognitive_dissonance(fact1,fact2,belief1) yields:

belief2=victims must deserve what they get
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:28 AM on September 10, 2005


Thanks for putting this on the sidebar Matt. I had gotten a little exhausted with all of the Katrina posts and missed this one. Photojournalism at its finest.
posted by caddis at 10:35 AM on September 10, 2005


...hunting and gathering is not a natural state. They're just as learned as working and buying.

Um... OK.

Alright, well, maybe I've gotten a little careless since I got my degree in Anthropology, and I forgot to carefully qualify my statements by adding that it's regarded by some as a controversial proposition that hunting and gathering behavior in animals (such as chimps, bonobos, gorillas, and possibly early humans) is instinctive, and not learned and cultural.

Perhaps I should be more careful with my "scare quotes."

So, what exactly do you think our "natural" state is? Do you think that it's not the case that we have more basic, default behaviors that we might fall back to when it seems to us that large, highly elaborated structures of metaphor are breaking and falling down around us?
posted by lodurr at 10:50 AM on September 10, 2005


Great pics, great post. Thank you.
posted by digger at 1:36 PM on September 10, 2005


from pmbuko's UK Weatherworld link:

With New Orleans completely oblivious to the atmospheric A-Bomb that was bearing down on them, it's a wonder anyone got out. Both New Orleans leadership and in no small measure the booze driven, "Don't worry, be happy" culture down there, is where the majority of blame lies for this.
posted by Hat Maui at 4:20 PM on September 10, 2005


A real inquiry might have the useful side effect of producing an actual estimate of how many more people could have been pumped out if extraordinary measures had been taken, as well as what those extraordinary measures might have been. But in lieue of that, I'm skeptical that NOLA was going to get more than a few thousand more people out using any of the measures (forced bar closures, sound trucks) that HurricanJim suggests on that UK Weatherworld thread. It sounds to me like another case of casual over-simplification regarding the problems of evacuating a city that's largely cut off from the surrounding world by a bunch of swamps.
posted by lodurr at 5:33 PM on September 10, 2005


meh: not your 'hood, but Rocketboom posted ten minutes of flyover footgae over NO on September 2.
posted by mwhybark at 8:16 PM on September 10, 2005


Thanks, mwhybark. :)
posted by meh at 9:18 PM on September 10, 2005


wow wmhybark, that was astounding too.
posted by dejah420 at 10:13 PM on September 10, 2005


The idea of condemning looters of shoe stores, while our country is being looted of billions of dollars by government contractors makes my head explode.posted by ereshkigal45

Eh, agreed but get ready to explode again. Steal a pair of shoes, get media condemnation and maybe prison....steal millions and billions, get some mention on some less financially dependant media and sometimes some rare but good reporting ..rarely some conviction ; it seems most mportant news producers too frequently find potential conflict with probably powerful entities to be indeed a powerful disincentive , but part of blame rests on people apathy as well ; obviously most people can't cause degradation of quality of news production, but by letting poor and evidently lame and superficial reporting going on... as if it was acceptable... doesn't friggin help changing demand. Write email, protest, let the guys in marketing and the advertisers, know that you find the quality too low.


Let me reiterate what I've said. Looters who went beyond grabbing food for survival took lives.

I disagree dhartung. Looting doesn't necessarily cause death, expecially of people not involved in looting. Arsonists, on the other side, could reasonably have caused loss of life directly or by distracting emergency vehicles and resources so they certainly deserve imprisonment even if one actually didn't kill or harm anybody, as they acted in a situation that one would hardly define ordinary.

Looters, on the other hand, are still guilty of theft but I would excuse the theft if not violent against humans, provided that they pay for what they have stolen or give back a copy of the stolen good. I also think police did well when some of them decided to let the looting go on as they would have endangered themselves in attempting to protect property..by doing so they couldn't have helped others in real need of help ; certainly we can't forget that the circumstances are out of the ordinary and exceptional...that doesn't excuse everything, but could excuse something.
posted by elpapacito at 6:27 PM on September 11, 2005


This album has disappeared from the link location.. any ideas where it is now?
posted by keno at 5:49 AM on September 12, 2005


Corporate. Typical. Kodak takes down the slideshow, probably because its getting swamped. Note to Kodak: people actually using your site: good.
posted by thisisdrew at 7:38 AM on September 12, 2005


Yea, its gone... It's funny, I think I remember my grandfather talking about this... "Kodak" .
posted by R. Mutt at 7:42 AM on September 12, 2005


As a sort of aside, these photos are some of the most amazing I've seen. Particularly the window shot about a third of the way down.
posted by bwerdmuller at 9:33 AM on September 12, 2005


Eh. This is too bad, that was a very important slideshow. Does anyone have the contact information for the person who originally was hosting it?
posted by iamck at 9:40 AM on September 13, 2005


it would be a shame for something that so many people valued so highly to just disappear because of a corporate policy.
posted by gomez at 9:21 PM on September 13, 2005


If anyone's still reading, I inquired if Kodak would send a message to the person hosting the gallery. This was their response:

Hello Christopher,

Thank you for contacting the KODAK EASYSHARE Gallery Customer Service Team.

We take your privacy and the privacy of your photos very seriously.

Please take a moment to read our Terms of Service and our Privacy Statement, which you can find at the bottom of all pages on our website.

To read through the Gallery Terms of Service, follow this link:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/TermsOfService.jsp

To read our complete Privacy statement, follow this link:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/PrivacyStatement.jsp

If you have any further questions or concerns regarding your account or the KODAK EASYSHARE Gallery service, please let us know.

Sincerely,
Rachel W.
KODAK EASYSHARE Gallery Customer Service Team

posted by iamck at 10:49 AM on September 16, 2005


It's back on the kodakgallery.com site but at a different url - here you go:

Five days with Katrina
posted by funambulist at 11:16 AM on September 16, 2005


Awesome find. Thanks.
posted by iamck at 11:20 AM on September 16, 2005


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