THE TRUTH HITS HOME
The next morning the awful truth became clear. The levees had failed. No one had to tell us what that meant to the city. Once I came to grips with the apocalyptic nature of the moment, I decided I had to get into the air. As most of the skeleton staff evacuated our downtown offices in the back of circulation trucks, I escaped the rising floodwaters in a small boat by rowing four hours west to dry land. After collapsing in exhaustion in the median of the interstate median, I finally got my second wind. From there an Army chopper pilot let me bum a ride on a rescue mission to the Superdome. As we flew over the swamped city, I saw for the first time the extent of the devastation. Hours later, I got my first cell phone signal and called my photo editor, Doug Parker. He told me the staff had set up shop in Baton Rouge and were busy reinventing the newspaper operation there. It took forever to transmit my photos over the crippled cell phone line, but persistence paid off. This photo ran six columns on the next morning's front page. We were back in business.