Katrina may dampen HP show

Tech Culture

The devastation that Hurricane Katrina has left behind may also leave Hewlett-Packard swamped in the Big Easy.

The computer and printer maker is scheduled to hold its Technology Forum next month at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans (Sept. 12 - 15) with .

Wind and water damage in the downtown area threatened to shut the show down.

But a note posted today on the show's Web site says that until further notice, HP is moving forward with the show as normal. The company said its event team is assessing the situation and will make a decision by Friday, September 2, 2005.

"We ask that you be patient while we complete our assessment and that you make no changes to your conference or travel plans at this time," HP said.

The decision may not be HP's to make. Newhouse News Service reported Tuesday that New Orleans city officials might open the convention center as a temporary refuge to shelter an estimated 50,000 people made homeless by the storm. The nearby New Orleans Superdome was opened as a public safety refuge on Monday but the roof on the football stadium developed leaks.

Even the television game show, "The Wheel of Fortune" had the good sense to leave the convention center. The show had been scheduled for taping for the final round of contestants, but Broadcast and Cable reported that the entire staff and set were already on the way out of town.

But that is the situation now. HP's decision will depend partially on how the city and community can rebound in less than two weeks.

"Please be cognizant that the media coverage of an event of this magnitude can be sensationalized for effect," a representative with HP said. "While some areas have withstood damage, others may have not. However, please be assured that our decisions will be based on our ability to ensure the safety and welfare of all attendees."

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