The advent of social media has changed the way people experience disasters, and Saturday's surprise flood in New Orleans is just the latest example. Via countless photos, videos and online testimonials, anyone lucky enough not to be wading through the water was able to watch the distressing news play out in real time.
So pretty quickly, it became clear that the city had a calamity on its hands.
And almost as quickly, it became equally obvious that the flood would become an issue in the fall elections.
Even as the water rose, the tweets and Facebook posts flew. One of the first to weigh in was mayoral candidate LaToya Cantrell, who said that infrastructure would be a top priority in her administration and insisted that "we can do better, and we will."
Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni seemed to push back with this: "Candidates tweeting out that they can do something about the flooding ... absurd. Up to 8" of rain in few hours anywhere would cause flood." (Berni also wrote that he was responding to multiple posts from multiple candidates for various offices, not just Cantrell's).
City Council District B hopeful Timothy David Ray jumped into the conversation by responding to Berni's assertion, saying he disagrees "100%." Others channeled everyone's entirely justified frustration, even as they conceded that there may be no actual human fault here.
"The City should put out as much info and data on yesterday's flooding along with maps where flooding was most severe," wrote state Rep. and at-large City Council candidate Helena Moreno on Facebook. "It may be that Mother Nature just overwhelmed the system, but it is clear that the people of this city need to be convinced of that."
Meanwhile, former Civil District Court Judge Michael Bagneris, another mayoral candidate, keyed on Sewerage and Water Board Executive Director Cedric Grant's comments attributing this year's frequent floods to the "climate change era," arguing that "we deserve a better answer" than that.
"Climate change isn't going get better any time soon, so we have to be better prepared," Bagneris wrote.
There was much more from many more candidates, as well as one notable noncandidate. Trash magnate, real estate developer and reality television star Sidney Torres declined to run this year (he'll be busy filming a second season of "The Deed" for CNBC), but he still issued a lengthy Facebook "editorial" on the subject labeling the administration "callous" and calling for an independent investigation.
Berni actually did get some rare back-up from an unexpected source, although it came with some shade. "@ryanberni w/ u on this one but it could be worse if candidates pointed to Mayor who said he'd fix crime problem but allowed it to get worse," wrote Chris Bowman, spokesman for District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, a regular critic of Berni's boss, Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Of course, for candidates seeking city office, demanding the answers everyone wants is a no-brainer. There should and will be a review of what went right and what went wrong. The city and Sewerage and Water Board insist that the system worked as designed but was simply overwhelmed, and that may turn out to be true, but it could be that a thorough investigation will uncover other weak links in the drainage system that can be addressed.
What's not at all clear at this early point is that such a review will identify the sort of smoking gun that makes for an easy campaign issue. As Bowman hinted, flooding may turn out to be the sort of topic, like crime, for which there's lots of outrage but no easy solution.
And just as frustrating: It could well be that, given the capacity of the city's drainage system and the rise of extreme weather events, this could be as good as it gets.