Oops! Gustav hammered Baton Rouge, no one noticed

While everyone is patting themselves on the back for getting people out of New Orleans in fine fashion, and nervously tracking Hurricane Ike, another tragedy unfolds out of public view:  Baton Rouge got hammered by Gustav.  A week after the storm hit, half the city is still without power.

Anna West, at right with her son Anton Guevarra, and Zahli and Mira Bhayroo at the Baton Rouge, La., home of Lori Waselchuk, a freelance photographer (New York Times)

Anna West, at right with her son Anton Guevarra, and Zahli and Mira Bhayroo at the Baton Rouge, La., home of Lori Waselchuk, a freelance photographer (New York Times)

Baton Rouge provided refuge for New Orleanians fleeing the devastation of Katrina.  While the city braced for a new wave of global warming refugees, it wasn’t prepared to get hammered itself.

Have you heard or seen much on the news about the levels of destruction in Baton Rouge?

What if we had a hurricane wipe out a city other than New Orleans, and no one noticed?

How many other places are in rather desperate straits, with no notice from national media?  The New York Times appears to have missed the damage, though a reader named Allison tried to tell them in comments to one post at the Lede:

I too am a Louisiana native and live in the nation’s capital. My family lives in Baton Rouge and I can’t quite figure out why Louisiana is treated like a third world country every time a major hurricane hits the state. They are still without power(day 4) and some are without running water. There are reports that it could be weeks before it is fully restored. If it were New York, Washington, D.C., or even Los Angeles every electric truck in the country would have been there days ago to help repair downed lines. Instead all we are hearing about in the media is how well Pres. Bush and Gov. Jindal prepared for this hurricane! Go figure!

— Posted by Allison

Some say Baton Rouge would not be swamp kill from Gustav, had Bobby Jindal been elected governor of Louisiana.


Old American Airlines pal Gil Brassard called to say he’s got a new generator, and can charge his cell phone to call out, but still doesn’t have any other electricity.  He complimented Jindal on the job he’s doing.  Is the rest of electricity-short Baton Rouge doing as well as Gil?  Who knows?

Do you think the McCain campaign’s presence in the early part of the storm distracted FEMA, the president and the governor?

Signs a news story is being missed:

2 Responses to Oops! Gustav hammered Baton Rouge, no one noticed

  1. eveyb says:

    Another sign that a news story was missed… the number of hits on my little webpage of post-Gustav photos. During the days of storm recovery from Gustav, a few of our relatives and friends who lived elsewhere were asking for information. They had not seen photos of the damage or read reports. So, when our power was finally restored, I created a webpage with photos for them to view, as well as my own rant about how many of us here in Baton Rouge felt ignored in our plight. Ten days after Gustav’s passage, I sent a link to the page to my mom, my daughter, my brother, and a friend in Texas. The page currently does not come up on any search engines, but it’s apparently spreading through email forwards… because my Yahoo! file manager is now verifying 22,000 hits on this page. The page has been online for 9 days, it’s 19 days after the storm’s passage, and another major hurricane has occurred, but readers are still interested enough in the MISSED STORM to pass on the information.

    P.S. – This was also a valuable lesson that you should never post something online that you don’t want the world to see… because they just might!


  2. flatlander100 says:

    Have been receiving reports from daughter in BR and colleagues, and checking BR paper on line. Paper quotes BR officials and Entergy officials to effect that Gustav did more damage there than Andrew or Katrina or Betsy. [Betsy had been the standard for “worst storm in BR history” — until Gustav.] And lots of people have been noting the complete lack of national press notice. Nearly all the focus on NO.

    Also noticed the way the nat. press has kind of defined disaster down. Predictions prior to Gustav hitting La. were that it might do $20 billion in damages. Some days ago, an official estimated that it had done “only” $5 billion in damages. Had Katrina not hit two years ago, and had estimates not been so high this time, the headlines would have been “Gustave does $5 billion Damage in La.!” There would have been no “only” about it.

    Context is everything.


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