By Jay DeFoore
Published: September 09, 2005 4:15 PM ET
NEW YORK – As Hurricane Katrina’s deadly gale-force winds bore down on New Orleans last Monday, dumping water that would later engulf the city, NOLA.com editor Jon Donley was hunkered down in the Times-Picayune’s “Hurricane Bunker,” listening to the police scanner and posting updates using the site’s blogging software.
Before its offices were literally swamped with water, the Times-Picayune was inundated with frantic phone calls from city residents crying out for rescue. People trapped in their attics sent text messages to friends outside the state, who then used the NOLA.com blogs and message boards to post the addresses and locations of their trapped friends.
“It turned into a vital link for people needing rescue,” Donley says of the Web site, which has received over 200 million page views over the past week and a half — several times its normal amount. “Aids to [Lt. Gen. Russel] Honore told us that his group was specifically monitoring our blogs for directions to trapped people, and they told us lives were saved because of [the Web site].”
Donley and his team of Web producers have been hailed as industry heroes not only for the stellar service they provided for the community of New Orleans, but also for the way they kept the Times-Picayune publishing — with three Web-only issues last week — when the flood waters chased the paper’s staff as far away as Houma and Baton Rouge. (more…)