Of all the blogs and other web resources that I have been watching since early last week, by far the most interesting is Michael Barnett's
Mike is "Crisis Manager" for a major New Orleans data center located on the 10th floor of an office building in downtown New Orleans (DirectNic).
An ex-military (6 years in Special Forces Group), together with his
girlfriend, the CEO of the company, and a group of 4 or 5 others, he
was charged with keeping the datacenter online through Katrina and its aftermath.
Starting from before Katrina hit, his
blog reads like a novel, as he
narrates one crisis after another as they struggled to keep the generators running, links up, and still report to the outside world what was happening as everything fell apart in New Orleans.
At 8:54 am on Tuesday, Aug. 30, Michael
posted the following prophetic blog entry:
Michael is a specialist in crisis management with military experience; he also predicted the looting and potential chaos with drug addicts, criminals and desperate people seeking to take advantage of the situation.
didn't antecipate was the complete breakdown in authority and disappearance of any semblance of law and order within the city.
didn't predict it, but he
By the second or third day, he
was broadcasting desparate pleas for the deployment of Active Duty Armed Forces.
spoke with police officers who all told the same story: the hierarchy of command was gone, and all communications were out.
The members of the police force were victims themselves of the disaster; almost all of them had lost everything and many were more worried about finding and helping their own family members.
reported that even police officers had been seen looting.
One of the things that most amazed me as I watched events unfold in New Orleans, was the surprise and shock expressed by so many people at how rapidly the city turned violent.
As looters ransacked the city, and armed gangs roamed the streets unchallenged, officials seemed totally caught off guard by the violence and even the media seemed to portray New Orleans as a city of outlaws, who were shooting at their would-be rescuers.
As the power structure collapsed and shots were heard in the streets, Michael Barnett
and the team at Camp Crystal (which he
denominated their 10th floor office space, after his
girlfriend!) knew that things were going to get really, really bad, and that they were basically on their own.