Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Starving Gulf Coast Survivors Monitored By Well-Fed Reporters

NEW ORLEANS - The citizens of the Gulf Coast continue to suffer from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Many haven't eaten in days and water is in short supply. The federal government struggles to find enough vehicles to shuttle out the victims. There are even reports of people who have died from hunger and thirst. Well-fed and air-conditioned reporters are closely monitoring the situation. "

It's terrible," said Bonnie Wilkins from CNN as she sipped from a bottle of Evian water. "Men, women, children, all dying. You can't help but feel for them. I saw a young woman with a crying baby in her arms, calling out for food. It was so horrifying, I almost dropped my Egg McMuffin."

In the streets of New Orleans, crowds mill aimlessly, drenched in sweat and begging for help. Scattering among them, reporters from news agencies around the world are careful to keep their distance as they film the horrific scene.

Kent Reynolds from Channel 8 Power News reports from a shattered bridge on Oak Street. As he prepared for a report on the devastation, Kent asked his director, "Has my pizza arrived yet?"

Once on the air, Reynolds gave the camera a sober look as he asked, "And where are the rescue helicopters? The government is asking all aircraft to aid the rescue effort, yet there are none in sight. Our Powerade Power-8 chopper is live on this tragic scene."

He then cut to their traffic reporter, who flew over downtown New Orleans with a helicopter to film people waving signs and begging for help, then headed back to the office to edit the footage.

The heat is another factor that the reporters are closely observing. Temperatures rise up into the nineties and without electricity, air-conditioning is non-existent. Heat exhaustion is a looming threat to the hurricane survivors, and aid agencies struggle to distribute ice to provide relief.

Brad Dana from Oklahoma City's Channel 13 News sits in an air-conditioned tent, watching footage of an old couple gasping for air. His eyes fill with tears of pity that are blown away by an electric fan.

He plucks at his dry shirt as he says, "I really wanted to help them, but I had a killer deadline. And I can't stay out there too long. The temperature is ninety-two and the humidity is almost eighty percent. When I do a live report, I have to roll up my sleeves until I get back to the tent."

No one knows how long the suffering will go on, but everyone in the press community is committed to documenting every moment of it. Lucas Rashad from the Associated Press spoke for all of them when he said, "It's important that we remain. As long as these people are hungry, thirsty, hot, and desperate, we'll be here to make sure the world sees it."

Rashad then took a sip of his Starbucks cappuccino, took a bite of a cheese danish, and stepped over a fainting ten-year old girl to head back to his air-conditioned van.

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