September 1, 2005 5:15 PM PDT

Hurricane victims tell it best

It offers no live video, aerial photos or expert testimony, but the reader forum provided by the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Web affiliate is as up to the minute and perhaps more harrowing than traditional news coverage of Katrina's aftermath.

Quan Vo, for example, tells of 300-some people still stranded in sewage water up to their necks at a Vietnamese church in New Orleans. Helicopters were already full by the time they flew over the church on the outskirts of the city, Vo writes on Nola.com's NOLA View Web log.

"Many of the people are growing weak and sick from lack of food and water plus the heat. Some of them feel like they probably won't make it for the next day," Vo wrote.

Jason Newton reports that 1,300 are still trapped just blocks from the Louisiana Superdome at University Hospital, where his girlfriend reports many are dead, 11 doctors share two flashlights at night, and there's "a collective mood and health standards that are going downhill quickly."

Meanwhile Dave Gibbs said seven people trapped in an apartment building were attacked by an armed gang that hijacked a truck and drove it through a locked gate in the parking garage. "They are unable to leave the building due to the heavy presence of large, well-organized armed looters," he wrote. "They expect the building to be attacked at any moment."

These are just three of many eyewitness blog accounts shared with the world via the Internet, which unlike the Times-Picayune's offices, survived the flood. But Vo, Newton and Gibbs help play an increasingly important role as new technologies intersect with old-fashioned citizen journalism. This was evident in the mobloggers who took some of the most compelling photos of the London bombing.

Nola.com's blog, while a particularly heart-wrenching read, is joined by the likes of other sites that people are using to share stories, find loved ones and offer assistance, including Craigslist, NowPublic and the KatrinaHelp wiki.

 

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