Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita Watch: D-Day ... midday

The sky has darkened. A brisk east wind is cutting through. NOAA reports Rita is starting to show some signs of fatigue, becoming slightly less organized. Such news has a context: It only gives hope that the deepness and severity of the impact could lose a bit of its edge, like a pulled punch. By Mike Tyson. Any tender mercy would be appreciated, but this will be anything but a gentle afternoon rain.

We're enjoying what will likely be the last few hours of electricity. Rather than drinking the cold sodas, I'm drinking the warm bottled water, thinking I might appreciate the remnant coolness of a soda in the dark, un-cooled bowels of the newspaper building tomorrow. In the books behind my desk, I came across a bit of pretty good Hemingway advice: Always describe the weather. I laugh. Small comforts.

We're continuing to gather information throughout the region, before we batten down the hatches. We're also getting calls from other reporters, editors and producers. I'm doing a live TV news show by phone to Moscow, Russia, in a few minutes. CBS called to confirm a report that we had an editor planning to ride out Rita in a bank vault. Not true, although one of our reporters will be among our emergency first-responders aboard a cargo ship in the Port of Beaumont when the storm hits. A wild ride with the people who'll deal first with the aftermath. The bank vault idea sounds a little Geraldo-esque ... maybe he can do it.

We are all girding ourselves for the job ahead. Katrina taught us many lessons. One was to be prepared to see something you never expected to see. Your workplace under water, your supermarket turned to twisted metal and rotting meat, your neighborhood reduced to scrap lumber, six feet of water in your bedroom, your barber's bloated corpse floating down Main Street. If it happens the way it happened three weeks ago, it's all possible and I wonder how we'll deal with it. Not in print, but in our hearts.

That's why we seek small comforts. A tiring storm. The promise of a cool (if not cold) soda in the dark. The possibility that after all the sound and fury, the place and the people will still be mostly whole, and we'll get back to telling stories a little more prosaic, a little more mundane than a Category 4 hurricane's first-degree rape of our place and lives.


Pebble said...

Hi Ron,

I've been reading you faithfully since Fayrouz put up your link on her site.
Another friend is posting from the evacuee situation... She and family holed up at a dentist’s office last night...

She is here:

All those people lined up on the freeway, and no potties, she says a camper let many come in and use the toilet. I must keep this in mind, if I ever have to evacuate... bring along a tall skinny tent, with a potty chair, I could use my mom's bedside


Anonymous said...

Froma an another low-lying country, Holland, I wish you luck. We may not like your government, but we feel for you as fellow human beings.

sonyaw13 said...

Here in northern california glued to the computer feeling the fear you must all have hidden in side. I admire you for taking on the storm and being there to tell us all what its like to face something so powerful and totally out of man's control. I wish you the best and hope you enjoy that COKE!

Anonymous said...

Woot! Glad to see you're all right, Ron - we've been following the comments and were glad to see your post.

Hang in there, buddy. We're thinking of you!

The i66 News Blog Team

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