Keeping Connected during Gustav

NOLA Airport August 30

New Orleans Airport prior to Gustav Shutdown 8/31/08

Update: Terrific example of a breaking news blog, www.gustavnewsblog.com (thanks LostRemote).  And great value-add comment from Joey Mornin below about how activists are using social media during Gustav, especially the “Gustav Information Center.”  As Joey remarks: You’d think it’d be a cacophony of tweets and blogs, but it’s actually self-organized into something with real potential to help the Hurricane relief efforts.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours staying “connected” with New Orleans even as I planned my own departure.

The impending hurricane forced us to cancel our world premiere last night.  But we still had to “contingency” screenings – the latest one right after Mayor Ray Nagin’s press conference declaring Gustav to be the “mother of all storms.”

I noticed a starkly different “feel” to Thursday’s screening, compared to last night.  Thursday, “Katrina” was still the working premise, part of the city’s most obvious vocabulary.  Now Gustav may supplant it, and it’ll be interesting to see how I’ll have to modify my film (“permanently beta!”) to fit this potential new reality.

I’m almost certain that I’ll have to return to New Orleans sometime in the next 6-8 weeks to find out what happened to my characters.  I’ve got de facto “stringers” in the city, who decided to not evacuate, for professional reasons (journalists, aid workers, etc.).  And I gave my Canon HV20 to StayLocal.org’s Dana Eness who’s evacuating today to Arkansas.

My most recent acquisition was a fireman who noticed I was filming as I pulled into a gas station this morning.  I showed him mine (Sony EX1) he showed me his (Sony PD-170).  I gave him my card, took his name and number and told him I’d check in with him after the storm to see what he got.

Amazing how far you can travel with a camera here.  At the airport checkpoint, the sheriff was checking for boarding passes.  Mine was in the back of my Ford Escape, so I offered to get out and find it for him.  He gave my big black EX1 a once-over in the front passenger seat and decided I was harmless and told me to go ahead.

I’ve been updated my Twitter feed regularly.  I’ve noticed that Gustav tweets generally have proven to be popular.  It’ll be interesting to see how Twitter holds up during the storm (and the RNC)!  Update: CNN anchor Rick Sanchez also regularly referring to his Twitter feed on-air.

Postscript: I’m back in Seattle.  Everything went like clockwork today.  Good luck to everyone who’s staying behind — stay safe.  Now that I’m home, the old-school journalist in me is wondering why I didn’t stay!

Hanson Hosein

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