Michael Learmonth in Variety (sub req.)
What began as a story of 140-mph winds and “flagpole-flying” correspondents turned slowly into one of flooding, looting and death.
Reporters traded hurricane rain gear for hip waders Tuesday as levees broke around New Orleans, bringing misery to the city and the realization that the worst was yet to come.
NBC’s Brian Williams, who weathered the storm in the Louisiana Superdome, watched the story shift as he made his way into the French Quarter Tuesday morning to tape a standup for “Today.”
He was about to report that the city had been spared the worst as the eye of the storm skirted 60 miles to the east. Then two levees broke and the water began to rise.
“I used iodine tablets in Iraq, but I never thought I would have to use them in New Orleans,” said Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan, who was loading up a rented Ford Excursion to make the run from Gulfport, Miss., to the Big Easy.
Next to Harrigan’s SUV, a shipping container sat on top of what was left of a house. Elsewhere in Gulfport, people poured water on a marooned sea lion that had floated out of a local tourist attraction.
“It’s like a box that got shaken up; nothing is where it’s supposed to be,” Harrigan said.
ABC and Fox purchased video from a private pilot flying over Biloxi, but news helicopters have been prohibited from flying over New Orleans, making aerial shots scarce.