It's been 11 days since Hurricane Rita plundered Southeast Texas. The news has come faster and more furiously than a sustained hurricane-force gust. Under rather harsh conditions, we've done our best to tell the story of a regional wreck. Our press is still silent. Much of the city is without power. Landlines are spotty. The stink of rotten meat and food is everywhere. We spend our time in a make-believe newsroom, and our 20-hour-a-day work has kept us away from our own wrecked homes. We slept on tile floors in the hot, humid guts of a damaged building. God knows what dusty debris is being belched by our reinvigorated ventilation system. I might never drink bottled water for pleasure again. Same with Vienna Sausages.
Most of these past 11 days, we produced a 100% online newspaper, navigating tricky lines of communications between far-flung editors and reporters based in Beaumont, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Then on Sunday, we finally printed our first real paper, with the help of our sister paper's press in San Antonio, then jumped in to help deliver the 74-page paper that comprised the 6- and 8-page papers of those 10 "lost days." And today, our regular Monday edition -- albeit truncated to 8 pages filled entirely with news -- was tossed in driveways as if nothing had interrupted our lives, jobs and morning delivery.
Life is returning to normal. How do we know?
One of our first callers this morning wanted to cancel her subscription ... because the newspaper was too small.