Mary Tutwiler

Gustav blows out of national press coverage

by Mary Tutwiler

Five days after Hurricane Gustav came ashore over Grand Isle and affected every parish in Louisiana, coverage of the storm has disappeared from major newspapers from New York City to Los Angeles., and Sen. John McCain didn’t bother to mention Louisiana’s plight in his acceptance speech last night. An article posted at yesterday leads with the phrase, "Hurricane Gustav was a much ballyhooed bust.” However, while national attention has faded because New Orleans’ levees didn’t spring a leak this time around, the truth is that half of the state is still crippled by power outages.

This morning’s Times-Picayune details a litany of problems state wide:
More than 91,000 households had registered for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance Program by noon Thursday.

Millions of residents and businesses lost power, with hundreds of thousands still in the dark. A handful of municipalities have no running water or at least no potable water, with no way to treat wastewater. State health officials have issued boiling orders for water systems in more than 50 parishes.

The utility situation compounds other concerns: fuel availability for generators and transportation; accessibility and quality of health care, both at permanent and temporary disaster facilities; the schedule of upcoming elections; reopening of schools; and farmers’ ability to harvest undamaged crops, milk cows and house poultry.
The Advocate reports that over 80 percent of customers in Baton Rouge, including the State Capitol building, remain in the dark as of Thursday, and utility companies say they can’t guarantee power will be restored for three weeks.