The Digital Journalist
© Ted Jackson/The New Orleans Times Picayune
"TAKE WHAT YOU NEED" There was a fine line between looting and taking what you needed to survive. Hardly anyone in downtown New Orleans survived Katrina without taking something that didn't belong to them. People broke into buildings to find food and water. The police siphoned gas from abandoned cars. I commandeered a boat. The hurricane was still raging when I spotted a mob of people looting a Winn-Dixie supermarket near the French Quarter. In hurricane force winds and driving rain, these people were having a field day. One man was loading his van with items when he spotted me shooting photos from my truck window. He was the only one who seemed bothered at my presence. He quickly closed up his van and drove straight for me. I honestly thought he would pull a weapon as he drove up, window to window. With a wild-eyed face he said, "Can you believe this? They're looting the place. I'm just a cable installer who parked near the building to protect my truck. I swear I'm a cable guy." I said I believed him and he drove off repeating, "I'm a cable guy." Later on, I spotted a man coming out of a liquor store downtown with an arm load of booze. He was surprised to see a photographer passing by, but put a happy face on and posed. "Do you want a picture of a looter?" he asked. "Just take what you need and leave the rest," I said.