Anorak News | Water Land

Water Land

by | 31st, August 2005

‘AFTER a couple of weeks of non-news about non-event (Why can’t we see Tony Blair? Why can’t we deport mad mullahs? Why is John Prescott afforded a spell as the country’s leader every year?), nature has given the papers a real event to get stuck into.

Easy Street

Hurricane Katrina has not hit Britain, but it has destroyed large bits of the United States, and that’s close enough for it to get on the Times’s front page.

“Mississippi drowning,” says the Times tastelessly. Given the news that many people have died – “the mayor is talking of bodies floating through the streets” – this is a cheap headline to herald a disaster that has “washed away escape routes and swallowed whole streets”.

The paper produces a picture of New Orleans under water and watches rescuers searching the city in boats and helicopters, picking up people clinging for their lives on rooftops.

“Hundreds feared dead as US declares: ‘This is our tsunami’,” says the paper, quoting the words of A J Holloway, the mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi, where every building within 400 yards of the sea has been flattened.

But as is the way with modern news, the paper turns to the internet for the human angle. In “Bloggers’ stories” it lets the online diarists have their say.

“My husband was trapped in a building, 234 Loyola,” writes one. “Please, does anyone know if this building is still standing?”

“The scene at the window is frightening,” writes another. “…There is a tooth-grinding whistle from the wind.”

And: “The house just split in half. We got up on the roof and the water came up and just opened up, divided… My wife, I can’t find her body, she gone.”

The Telegraph prefers to ignore to web, and the Times’s lazy reporting, and leads with “Katrina’s tide of destruction”.

There’s the by now familiar overhead shot of a watery New Orleans, the rooftops looking like alligators basking on a muddy river.

And it’s getting worse. The paper says two breaches in the levees around Lake Pontchartrain are causing water to flow into the city. Lt Julie Wilson tells the paper how “the water will keep coming until it reaches the level of the lake”.

Kathleen Blanco, the governor of Louisiana, says the devastation is “greater than our worst fears… It’s totally overwhelming.”

The area, as the paper says, will be uninhabitable for months. Towns look like “war zones”.

Today things look painfully hopeless. But it’s hard to think that so vibrant a city as New Orleans will not one day return to pre-Katrina normality.

And, then, who knows, the locals might even be able to look at the Times’s front-page headline and raise a smile…’

Posted: 31st, August 2005 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink