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So I’ve spent the last twenty-four hours watching obsessive amounts of CNN coverage of Katrina’s onslaught on the Gulf Coast. The good news, insofar as there is good news, is that none of the nightmare projections of what could have happened to NOLA appear to have come to pass. There is water in the streets, and there is substantive structural failure, but the levees held, and the worst is just about over.

I haven’t talked with my family in Baton Rouge yet this morning, but the reports from there appear to be pretty good — big-ass storm, but not the kind of devastation that was feared. The CNN reports are just bizarre, though: Anderson Cooper standing out on a pier on the Mississippi, getting the hell blown out of him in order to point out that this crane, right here, has broken free of its moorings and is swinging in the wind, periodically bashing into the pier. And some local numbskulls out walking around, testing the wind, seeing if they can fly.

The best of Anderson’s coverage thus far, though, was an exchange a few minutes ago with the meteorologist in the CNN studio, who was explaining to him why Baton Rouge wasn’t being hit as hard as the cities like Gulfport and Biloxi to the east of the storm’s eye. I was reading blogs at the moment, so I was only half-listening, but it apparently has to do with geometry, as the terms “hypoteneuse” and “Pythagorean theorem” both came up.

I went to sleep last night afraid that my favorite city on the face of the earth was about to be obliterated from it. It now appears that things are bad, but not that bad. My thoughts are with everyone on the Gulf Coast, and with everyone worried about their loved ones there.

[UPDATE, 8.20 am: Just talked to the fam. They’re fine, though they lost power early this morning (so, weirdly, they were asking me for news). The real disappointment here is that this was going to be the first opportunity my stepfather was going to have to use his Y2K generator, but it seems not to be working properly. And if that’s the worst that’s happened, they ought to be okay.]

[UPDATE, 9.19 am: Apparently CNN correspondent John Zarrella was able to go into the French Quarter, shoot a report, and file it with CNN via computer, due to a new technology called FTP! Or, as the anchor has it, “our new FTP technology.” What will they think of next?]


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