Reporters on the Job

Article excerpt

* Bring Your Own Water: Covering a disaster like the tsunami often requires more planning than the normal story assignment. Where to sleep and what to eat, for example, must be considered. Nachammai Raman's story today about three faiths working together in Nagapattinam, India (page 11), required her to haul her own food and water. "I'd been warned that there wasn't much food, and the water may not be safe. So, I carried a backpack with my own water and food. I brought a kind of rice dumpling and rice with tamarind, which is acidic so acts as a natural preservative," she says.

When she arrived, she stopped by the offices of a local aid organization. Even there, "they were getting through the day on nothing but cookies. Of course, I felt guilty that I hadn't brought more food," Nachammai says.

During her 8-1/2 hour bus ride, mostly along the coastal highway from Madras (also known as Chennai), she noted that there was white dust on the road. "After burying the dead, the roads were covered with bleaching powder to disinfect them," she notes.

She didn't stay overnight because all the hotels were packed with locals made homeless. She reported all day, then took an overnight bus back to Madras. Similarly, many of the government officials and aid workers are not staying in coastal towns. They've moved their operations inland. …


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