Thursday, September 01, 2005

Mobile Post-Katrina News

Today's Front Page

Public Interest Television Coverage

Mobile television station WKRG-TV (Mobile Channel 5) -- and particularly its estimable anchor, Mel Showers -- has been doing a terrific job of keeping viewers up-to-date on local and regional post-storm news. For the nonce, the station has dumped a lot of its regular programming (and ads) in favor of serving the public interest.

Distant viewers can watch Channel 5 live on streaming video.

Alabama Waters Closed

All Alabama coastal waters are closed to all except authorized emergency vessels until further notice, "in the interest of public health, safety, and welfare." The closure area stretches from the Dauphin Island Bridge west to the Mississippi state line.

Hospital Patients Transferred

The Mobile Register reports today that hospital patients are flowing in from facilities further west:
Hospitals in Mobile and Baldwin counties already close to or beyond maximum capacity Wednesday made room for more as helicopters swept patients west from Mississippi medical centers.

Officials at North Baldwin Infirmary, Mobile Infirmary and Providence prepared their staffs as patients arrived from Biloxi, Hattiesburg and Pascagoula.
insurance adjusters.
No doubt, Pensacola hospitals will soon be receiving transferred patients as well.

Motel Room Crunch

The Mobile paper also reports today that "Hotel rooms in south Alabama are filling quickly as refugees from Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as insurance adjusters and emergency workers flood into the area." As of Wednesday afternoon, "very few rooms" were available in southern Alabama but reportedly there were about 1,000 available rooms in northern parts of the state. Most are near Interstate 65.
"We're recommending people start in Birmingham and go north from that," the spokesman said. "There are rooms in Cullman, Decatur and Huntsville, right off the interstate."
The paper reports Orange Beach hotels are expected to regain electric power Wednesday night and could reopen today.

The Register also reports --
This weekend, evacuees will be competing with football fans for hotel rooms. Football games are scheduled for Saturday night at Auburn University and the University of Alabama. Stadiums on the two campuses together hold more than 170,000 football fans. The surrounding communities have a combined 4,350 hotel rooms.

Hotels in both areas already have been at or near capacity in recent days, particularly Tuscaloosa, which is on Interstate 59, the easiest northerly evacuation route out of New Orleans and coastal Mississippi. Several hotel managers in Tuscaloosa are working to confront the potential problem by asking football fans with reservations to give up rooms.

Country Inn Suites Manager Greg Entrekin said he spent most of Wednesday calling his football patrons, most of whom book rooms for the entire season. "None have objected to giving up their rooms," he said."
Not so for Florida State fans, apparently. The Miami Herald reports, "Hundreds of Katrina evacuees who fled to Tallahassee seeking refuge from the storm have been politely told by their hotels and motels to leave this weekend to make room for a football game: FSU vs. Miami."

Gas Crunch

It might not matter if football fans can't find the gas to drive to Tallahassee. In Mobile, the Register says "those who monitor such things" claim there are "ample supplies" in the Mobile area. But WKRG-TV is reporting this morning that pump prices begin at $3.25 a gallon.

Is it worth it? Not if you're a victim of "gas rage" or "gas theft." News sources from around the Gulf Coast are beginning to report incidents of car-bashing in service station lines, fights, and gas siphoning.

Mobile Schools Remain Closed

Mobile public schools, Catholic schools, and colleges remain closed until further notice. Many do not yet have power. Others, including "about a quarter of Mobile County's 100 public schools" were severely damaged. The unavailability of gasoline also is contributing to the problem, according to the Mobile Register

Point Clear Devastated

Lovely Point Clear, Alabama (wouldn't you know, it's often shrouded in fog), suffered "catastrophic" damage, Roy Hoffman reports a local builder told the Mobile Register. Among other structures, the Grand Hotel, built in 1847, incurred "millions of dollars in damage during Hurricane Katrina."

This Ain't Peanuts

Alabama agriculture officials say Hurricane Katrina damaged pecans, cotton, peanuts and nurseries throughout southwest Alabama. The pecan crop is considered a total loss in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

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