The Journalists of Hurricane Katrina

Although Katrina’s devastation has passed, the storm left an indelible mark on the nation. Tying people’s lives in knots, it superseded anyone’s expectations. The storm slammed into the Louisiana and Mississippi coast lines and ravaged entire cities. It ate up huge chunks of history in New Orleans, bringing a significant city to its very knees. The nation saw the disaster and quickly responded, but some say the one’s who should have acted upon this, hesitated to do so. The storm punished a people who lived in an already degrading city–killing thousands and leaving almost nothing behind.

But often we do not think of the people who bring these images to us. We tend to look down upon them as scavengers and hawks waiting for the injured to breathe its last breath. It is the media, a self-resilient group that has been bringing you information since almost the beginning of time. Some individuals risk their lives to watch over controversy and destruction, waiting for something to happen in order to make your life more pleasant. As sick as this might sound, it stands some truth. News began as random information being reported from taverns and bars. It quickly spread to newsletters and print, movable type and dailies. Today the world expects to hear what is going on, it cries on top of mountains begging for some sort of moment in time.

Katrina was no different. The news quickly scattered around the country before, during and after it had left its imprint on an already toiled nation. Already billions of dollars in debt due to the Iraqi War. Already experiencing a moderate decline in jobs and a slow economy, inflated gas prices, the storm simply worsened all of these societal norms we experience today. The men and women who bring you this information live the same lives you do. They have children, families, hobbies, reasons to get up every day, just as you.

Recently, Andrew Fone, an award-winning journalist and Fox News Channel New England Bureau Chief, spoke at Emerson College in Boston about his experiences covering Katrina and his two trips down to New Orleans.

“You think you see the worst,” Fone’s eyes began to swell. “Then you drive three or four neighborhoods over and you have not seen anything. The heat, the smell, people left pets behind, packs of dogs reverted to a pack mentality in order to survive. Six inches of mud and 30 days of darkness in that city.”

Fone stayed in a Sheraton Hotel in Baton Rouge, as a base camp for his team.

“The days would began early and end very late,” said Fone. “We would be up at 5 a.m. to setup for a 7:30 a.m. shot. We wouldn’t see a bed until about midnight.”

The days were long and hard as Fone described it. The city, now run by soldiers, was an empty void.

“The place was stark,” Fone muttered. “Platoons of soldiers roamed through the city streets effortlessly.”

Once the city was clear of most people, several stragglers remained behind after the first sweep through, then levee repairs began. These were all for naught as another hurricane was moving into the Gulf Coast and aiming just west of New Orleans. The tired city was hoping not to feel any affects, but it seemed almost inevitable.

“We made our way toward the repaired levee,” said Fone. “They told us we had till about 4 until they were going to began barricading the road. I saw water pouring over the repairs and just knew this was not good. Shortly after we left, it broke three hours later, re-flooding the 9th district.”

Hurricane Rita made its way just west of New Orleans, but made a presence through more torrential rains and moderate winds from the outside of Rita’s eye.

Overall, Fone spent several weeks in the destruction, pacing through mold-ridden homes and garbage that seemed to collect over weeks.

“The flies were just awful,” said Fone. “In some cases, we could see endless droves of them.”

Tired and withered away of both mind and body, Fone made his way back home after his second trip down to the devastated area. With his family in mind, he waited anxiously to return to them.

“It was time go,” Fone praised. “I couldn’t wait to come home.”

Fone is just one of thousands of journalists that made the trek down to the Gulf Coast, some several times, but in the end it was he and this group of individuals that brought you into that world.

Several people described the devastation as a Third-World county. Troops running the city with green armored hummers and painted faces. Guns that look almost futuristic can be seen, but thankfully not heard.

Still, in the end, life must go on. The world will continue onward. The President is vowing that this area will be rebuilt into a bigger and better place. Along with New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, the two say the “music will return once more” to a city that now lies in peril.

Turning on your television or opening that ink-smelt newspaper, you see that life now is beginning to gone on. The media did its job in handing over the information and broadcasting the horrifying images that came from the storm, it is important to realize who these people are who did this. They might live in your neighborhood, down your street, or right next-door. But remember, without these people—these journalists—your lives would be more like a boring farce.

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