Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
September 5th, 2005


Field day

Thank goodness, it looks like everyone in my extended family is accounted for now: most of my relatives either left New Orleans or did the “vertical evacuation” and fled to the (relative) safety of the Hilton downtown. The others somehow made it through the storm on the less battered Westbank side of town.

For the first time ever, my relatives in New Orleans East evacuated their home. And it’s great that they did, because Katrina went right over New Orleans East – and so did the surge from the levee floodwall breaks. As for my relatives who vertically evacuated? They won’t be doing that again, because apparently the Hilton swayed so much during the storm that they were fearing its collapse.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to take a little of your time to comment on the state of affairs in our nation now. First of all, I’m getting downright tired of the media’s current field day: the comprehensive, ongoing, special, live, 24/7 coverage of The Aftermath that’s being played out on the major broadcast networks, countless radio stations, the serious cable news networks, and Fox News Channel. This is like watching Dateline NBC – with all its dramatic, heartbreaking stories – all day long, everywhere you turn. It gets tiresome.

As the storm was still approaching the Gulf Coast, my family and I were huddled around the computer to watch 4WWL, streaming live from New Orleans, and we stayed tuned to that station for the next few days as we tried to figure out what was going on down there. But there comes a point where the continuous news coverage is no longer helping to keep people informed or alive, and is now simply a way to keep people glued to the set or monitor.

Don’t get me wrong: the people whose stories are being aired are indeed in dire straits – my family members are, after all, having lost their homes and means. But it’s no longer news. It’s not helping people anymore; it’s simply prolonging the drama. That’s why the TV is off right now, and so is my media player. If my family needs immediate, late-breaking updates, we’ll call a relative or quickly check WWL’s website for updates. The drama doesn’t help the survivors if we just sit on the couch, watching in horror as the images go by.


Secondly, don’t let anyone tell you that the breaking of floodwalls in New Orleans could not have been foreseen. My family, as well as many New Orleanians, had assumed that would happen, which was why we were so ademant about our relatives evacuating. I would rant much more about the government’s handling of the situation, but Miguel de Icaza has it covered.