for National Geographic News
The Gulf Coast continues to reel from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Evacuations, power failures, and road closures have left tens of thousands of refugees scattered and communications disrupted.
Amid the chaos, Internet blogs are stepping up to connect missing loved ones and provide onsite reports from New Orleans and other devastated communities.
Hit hard like nearly everyone else in the area, New Orleans's venerable newspaper, the Times-Picayune, had to abandon its offices for Baton Rouge. But the paper is publishing a vital blog at its local news Web site, www.NOLA.com.
"You Loot, I Shoot"
Reports of the city's widespread looting and lawlessness are a particularly hot topic. With efforts focused on rescue and evacuation, few law enforcement resources remain to curb the armed looting that has left Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco "furious."
On Tuesday Blanco's spokesperson Denise Bottcher confirmed that looters tried to break into the locked Children's Hospital in uptown New Orleans.
While a few city residents sympathized with those looting food items, others writing on the NOLA.com blog pointed to thuggery and greed, saying it reflects New Orleans at its worst.
"New Orleans is now under marshal law," one angry poster noted, "meaning that if the police want to, they are certainly within their rights to shoot the looters. Maybe a few examples can be made."
Several bloggers who said they remain in the city reported the appearance of signs warning, "You loot, I shoot."
As reports trickle out of New Orleans, tales both true and dubious are acquiring new life online. One popular but unconfirmed report tells of a shark spotted cruising the flooded streets of the Crescent City.
Earlier this morning CNN reported that shots had been fired at military helicopters over the Superdome, forcing the caravan of evacuation buses from that facility to be halted.
SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES