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A Year Of Katrina: “A Situation That Even Our Most Experienced People Haven’t Experienced”

An internal CNN memo on August 28, 2005:

  FROM: Peter Dykstra, CNN executive producer, Science/Tech, Weather

DATE: Sunday, August 28

SUBJECT: A couple of thoughts for the planning call

We need to look ahead for planning for the next week in covering this — serious problems and lethal flood threats all the way up to Buffalo, NY.

Hurricane Hugo took down 100-foot pine trees a hundred miles inland, splitting trees in half and causing many deaths. Hurricane-force winds for Katrina are projected 150 miles inland.

Hurricane Camille killed 256 people — about half on the coastline from the worst storm surge in history, but about half inland — 100 alone in Virginia and Tennessee.

In the worst case, much of New Orleans cold be uninhabitable — health situations similar to the tsunami — floating debris, contaminated standing water and more.

Also, I know we are all thinking about this, but we are sending people into a situation that even our most experienced people haven’t experienced.

Please make sure that all on-air people, crews and support staff hear it over and over again. This is simply the biggest risk we have faced of a very dangerous situation.

Let’s also please stress to people that they need to expect that cell phones will be nearly useless if Cat 4 or 5 winds take the cell towers down.

 

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