News organizations throughout the U.S. are giving extensive coverage to the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Which is interesting for me, since now is the first time that I’ve seen and heard a lot of the stories of the destruction that the hurricane caused. When Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast in 2005, I was traveling in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. (Side note: Traveling from the U.S. to Spain involved a layover in Miami; our flight to Madrid left Miami less than a day before Katrina arrived there.) So instead of nonstop coverage on three 24-hour news stations, I only got bits and pieces of the story — an online article over a low-bandwidth satellite Internet connection here, an American television interview dubbed into Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, or French there. Not nearly enough to convey the overall magnitude of the tragedy or the effects on individual lives. So in a lot of ways, the current retrospective is an introduction for me since I didn’t have access to the blanket news coverage that helped Stateside folks communally experience what happened while it was happening.
Which I think is, to a large extent, the same experience that Americans are having with the current flooding in Pakistan. Of course, there are periodic updates on the tragedy there on television, online, and in print. But obviously, there isn’t the same level of coverage here in the U.S. that there was of Katrina. So given the same lack of continuous, visceral news coverage in Pakistan that I had with Katrina, I wonder to what extent folks will remember that the individual stories and grand mosaic of destruction and loss brought into their living rooms five years ago have new counterparts today.