Heroic Web Hosting: DirectNIC vs. Katrina - Location, Location, Location
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At the time of this writing, DirectNIC is located on the two middle floors of a 27-floor high rise building in the middle of the business district of New Orleans, about six blocks from the river. Their connection to the Internet is a fiber optic cable buried deep beneath the city's streets -- thus unaffected by the flooding. Their power comes from a 750kw diesel-powered generator hooked up to a 1,000 gallon tank, which is replenished from 55-gallon drums. By early afternoon, the company's blog reported reassuringly that they had "generators and tons of food and water...I have a camera and my gun." In short, they were prepared for any emergencies.
One other group noticed that the building made for a good staging location: the New Orleans Police Department. "We've got 60 cops stationed in our building as their staging area for their 12 hour shifts of 30 men each. They're on the 18th floor," the blog reports on Sunday, August 28. By shortly before 10 PM the same day, two more officers join them. This is disconcerting because they're police snipers; "I know m24s when I see them." This might be the first sign of the chaos to come -- chaos which DirectNIC reported and continued working right through.
At first, it looked as if there would be nothing much worse that heavy winds blowing debris everywhere, some windows broken, and the like. But the water pressure was dropping ominously starting in the mid-afternoon, until, by the evening of the 29th, the building had no water pressure at all. It is worth noting that, in addition to power, a data center at which humans will be working needs water pressure, or you will face "hygiene problems I'll be kind enough not to elaborate on," according to the blog. Coincidently, the first reports of looting in the city began to appear about the same time the water pressure began to drop.
By early evening Mike Barnett received reports of how bad the situation was in other parts of the city and state. A friend of his from out of state, who was raised in New Orleans, relayed that "...WDSU (channel 6 New Orleans) has a chopper up over Kenner showing the destruction...Kenner is flooded from lake to river -- the malls are gone -- it is really bad." Mike added that "...it's so bad that the rescue crews are bypassing people on their roofs to get to the people trapped in their attics...New Orleans got spared. The rest of the area got crushed."
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