Sunday, August 28, 2005

6:17 p.m. CDT
Welcome to a window looking into imminent destruction. This blog is being brought to you by two guys too dumb to get out of the way of what is turning into one of the most destructive natural forces to hit the mainland U.S. ever.

We are both journalists working at the Sun Herald, a paper that covers all of coastal Mississippi. My name is Mike Keller, the environment reporter down here. My colleague is Josh Norman, a metro reporter who normally covers Long Beach. For updates, go to www.sunherald.com.

We are holed up in the newsroom. It is becoming dark outside and all the news coming out of the television shows a well-formed and dangerous Hurricane Katrina due south of us.

The National Weather Service's 4 p.m. update starts with "...potentially catastrophic hurricane Katrina headed for the northern Gulf Coast..." Her maximum sustained winds are topping 165 miles an hour with gusts possibly topping 200 mph. Hurricane force winds extend out over 100 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds go out 230 miles. Though the wind hasn't kicked up yet, it is definitely on its way. The storm is a category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the highest rating. It is registering 902 mb pressure at the center, the lowest ever recorded in the Gulf, and it is strengthening.

The newsroom is about a quarter-mile from the Gulfport/ Biloxi beach, so we expect to get the full force.

New Orleans began evacuating yesterday and it became mandatory for parts of LA and coastal MS today. Though we will get hit hard, I feel pain in my heart for those in New Orleans who couldn't leave. Many have moved into the Superdome, where the Saints play. The mayor of New Orleans said earlier that a 24 to 30-foot storm surge would be topped with 50-foot wind-driven waves. He said that the levee system that normally protects the city from the Mississippi River and storms like this would be easily compromised. New Orleans sits on average about 6 feet below sea level, making it a big bowl. The consequenses of this storm to the city will, in all likelihood, leave a large swath of the Gulf Coast in ruins.

I have not heard this many "God bless you all and God speed" in a long time.

11 Comments:

Blogger Josh Norman said...

First off, I'd like to say that I am not dumb, but brave. Mike is dumb. And stoopid.
In all reality, I feel it is better to just not think too much about whether this is dumb or brave.
We have beer. We have beef jerky. We have Scrabble. Let's get it on.
Right now, it is lightly raining and dark.
Gulfport's Fire Chief, Pat Sullivan, stopped by earlier to drop off some photos and ask if anyone wanted to go for a ride around 10 p.m. (To which I said, "Hell yeah!")
So another update will come then. Weather Service is predicting Tropical Storm force winds at about that time.
Oy, the computer guys just showed up with large plastic bags to cover all the computers and equipment. And an administrator just came through and made us sign liability waivers.
A guy at Knight-Ridder Washington also just told me over the phone that we may be the only reporters on the Coast.
And on to cheerier things...
I had a good lasagna for dinner made by the same administrator who asked me to sign the waiver. Not quite mom's lasagna, but yummy none-the-less.
A guy from production brought his acoustic bass earlier and I lugged my guitar down here, so we can rock it out hurricane-style later. If only I knew how to rock it out.

Photos soon to come.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey you guys are crazy... and funny at that... keep up the "brave" work.. l8r!! Sam

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