August 29, 2005 6:30 PM PDT

Bloggers record Katrina destruction

As Hurricane Katrina tore across the Gulf Coast on Monday, the Web provided some of the most vivid, first-hand accounts of the storm's destructive path in the form of blogs, online photo galleries and discussion forums.

Blogs run by two New Orleans news outlets--The Times-Picayune newspaper and NBC TV affiliate WDSU--were among the most prolific. The Times-Picayune blog, run in partnership with local news site Nola.com, mainly ran contributions from its own reporters, but included some photos and reports from "citizen journalists," as well. The site's online forums gave readers a place to exchange questions and information.

The NBC affiliate took a similar approach, posting blog accounts from its staff along side news and photos from the Associated Press.

Many homegrown sites took a more personal approach to the day's events. A group of bloggers on MetroBlogging New Orleans offered eyewitness accounts of flooding and damage in various neighborhoods. Kaye Trammell, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, posted dispatches on her site, Kaye's Hurricane Katrina Blog, eliciting responses from across the globe.

"Being alone in an apartment while your husband is in another state during a hurricane is not the most fun thing I've done," Trammell wrote in one post. "The past few hours I have been fighting boredom & restlessness. Especially given that the power, cable & Internet are out. Having you all comment, give advice & just generally 'be there' really helped manage the situation."

(Trammell's blog indicates that although the power has been out at her home, she's been able to post from the LSU campus. She also notes that she has been charging her BlackBerry from her car battery.)

John Strain, a social worker in Covington, La., recounted a sleepless night bracing for the storm in his online journal. "It is 4:45 am now and I suppose I am up for the duration," he wrote on Monday morning. "My next task is to couple my coffee pot with a powered outlet and begin a caffeine transfusion. We are hanging in there, but the worst is yet to come."

Fortunately, the hurricane lost some of its power as it hit land on Monday, skirting New Orleans rather than hitting it head on as feared. The storm battered buildings and homes, wrecked cars, caused flooding, and cut off power across Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. Katrina was downgraded by meteorologists from a Category 5 hurricane to a Category 1 storm during the course of the day.

CNN, MSNBC and USA Today also featured Katrina blogs. In addition to links to its own reports, USA Today solicited and published comments from visitors in its readers forum.

"Mostly power outages and trees down; not much flooding considering what we're used to," wrote a reader from Baton Rouge, La. "Large number of stores ran out of gas before this thing ever hit, so even if there was somewhere to go, many can't get there. We're awaiting news just like everyone else along w/ electricity. We got lucky here."

MSNBC.com featured a blog penned by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, reporting from inside the leaky New Orleans Superdome, where thousands sought shelter from the storm. The site also featured photos and stories from readers in its Citizen Journalists Report section. CNN opted for a photo blog, which offers images of uprooted trees, collapsed roofs and a lone figure against a vast gray landscape.

Meanwhile, DeadlyKatrina.com and StormDigest rounded up dozens of stories on the storm published by national news wires and newspapers.

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