Sunday, October 30, 2005

Picture Day

We didn't shoot a story today. The FEMA people we deal with here are still learning what goes into producing stories for television. They come up with nebulous ideas to which I respond, "Where are we going?" I'm trying to get them to think of stories in terms of location. Whatever we do we have to have a place to go to shoot it. Once we pick the place, we'll find people.

So I ask, "Where are we going?"

Maybe they'll get it someday. But not today. So I looked at a map, picked a parish near the gulf, called the field PIO (Public Information Officer) for that area and went to shoot video of destruction that we'll use to illustrate stories we do later.

The pictures are from Slidell and Eden Isle in St. Tammany Parish. That's in the southeastern-most part of the state. The parts that the Gulf did not swallow went under water from Lake Ponchartrain.

The picture with the toilet sitting on top of a home's foundation, the concrete slab being the only thing left once the house blew into the water behind it. Look closely at the background and you can another home stripped down to its frame.

Eden Isle, where I took the above shot, is home to upscale lakefront houses and condos, proving that Katrina was an equal opportunity offender. The picture to the left shows photographer Jan Brown shooting a house. That gives you some perspective on the scale of damage to it. The last shot shows me standing with our camera where we stopped to shoot more video along Route 11 between Slidell and Eden Isle.

Here's the thing the pictures don't show: It's not that you see damage. It's that you don't see anywhere there is no damage.

We came back to Baton Rouge through New Orleans. Block after block you see water lines. Home after home, business after business, all ruined. Some places had portable storage units sitting outside. Some stuff inside can be salvaged but a good portion of the city not destroyed by the storm (No one says its name; it's simply "The Storm.") will have to let bulldozers do them in.

We drove through part of the French Quarter. It escaped heavy damage but it still looked terrible. Maybe that's how it always looked. Even the better parts of town look soiled now. And when it gets dark the smell reminds you of the rotting you can't see

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