Posted by: lizpalka | January 15, 2008

Reflecting on Radio During Katrina – Missy Barnett’s Account

“They gave you hope. They made you feel like you weren’t alone,” expressed Missy Barnett about the United Radio Broadcasters. A native New Orleanian, Missy truly loves her city which is why she was so reluctant to leave while Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans. Missy and her two sons, Trevor and Taylor, eventually evacuated late Sunday evening to Baton Rouge, as Katrina was just beginning to slam the Gulf Coast.


“Waves were flying over I-10 from Lake Pontchartrain, and my son was screaming ‘We’re going to die’, and I thought we might” said Missy. Her husband refused to leave, staying behind in New Orleans to help in any way he could.


After successfully evacuating, Missy describes how she was glued to the radio, keeping a notebook of all information pertaining to relief efforts. But the radio did more than announce what gas stations had fuel and where to buy food. The radio hosts were from New Orleans and suffering their own losses as well. Missy explained that because of the localism of radio, there was no need to turn to national news. To Missy, “they weren’t just doing a job, their heart was there.” The radio hosts were speaking directly to the people affected by Hurricane Katrina.


Missy couldn’t stand being away from New Orleans. Missy would drive as far she could into New Orleans, and then used unclaimed boats to get to her property in Metairie. Her neighborhood had flooded and her house had four feet of water in it, making it uninhabitable. Not to mention, looters had lined up computers and other electronics in their hallway to come back for eventually. The storm stripped her of irreplaceable belongings, such as baby pictures and furniture that had been passed down for generations. Missy brought to tears as she recalled the pain caused by the storm and how Katrina left so many with nothing.


Two years later, Missy has a strong sense of loyalty to the talk radio genre. She will flip to the radio stations that proved invaluable to her during Katrina and think to herself, “What if they had one more thing to say about the storm?” During Katrina, the radio was her best friend, her comfort, her lifeline.


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