Story Behind the Story: New Orleans Cleanup Article by Elaine Eliah
February 04, 2006
If you read the news story on this website, "Corps of Engineers Completes New Orleans Canal Cleanup," you may have noticed that the author, Elaine Eliah, is a communications specialist with ECC International Baghdad. Curious as to how someone in faraway Baghdad came to cover a New Orleans cleanup story, I sent her an email. She replied immediately.
"I am normally in Baghdad, where I sit typing this right now," she wrote. "In Dec/Jan I had to make a training trip to the US and ended up writing for our group working in New Orleans and a group cleaning up groundwater in Cape Cod."
Eliah wrote she offered to go to New Orleans, "when [her employer] ECC and the Corps of Engineers were taking a lot of flak over certain matters that were not even in our hands to remedy."
She explained that ECC began life as the Environmental Chemical Corporation, an environmental remediation company. ECC now offers many other services including engineering, construction, munitions response, and operations and maintenance of treatment plants and systems.
When asked if it took a lot of guts to be working in Iraq, she replied, "I don't know if it's guts or just ‘got to be there - don't want to miss it.' There are people who will never think that way and people who don't know how to think anyway else."
Eliah has been in Iraq since May 2004. "I go everywhere for my stories," she wrote. "Secondhand info doesn't cut it for someone who has worked as a professional journalist." When not working in Iraq or traveling to the US for "weddings, funerals and training," she makes her home in Italy.