Monday, October 03, 2005

What passes for Normal, Texas

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.


Mover Mike said...

Ron, that made me laugh. Keep at it and don't neglect your family.
Mover Mike

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank all of the hard-working staff of the Beaumont Enterprise for keeping me informed during my refugee time in Dallas and Austin. Your online version of the paper was easy to navigate and full of useful local data (and all-important pictures!!!!) I checked the site several times a day whenever I had internet access -- and appreciated the human touch provided by your Under the News link. Thank you, thank you!

Morgan said...

Thank you & your colleagues at the Beaumont Enterprise for braving the conditions and linking us to the Golden Triangle. My parents are exiled in Connecticut as evacuees from Rita, since their home is uninhabitable. Dad is getting cancer treatment up here from a kind doctor who trained at MD Anderson. They are so exicted to get any news of home, especially conditions in Port Neches.

Eric Swensson said...

Thanks for stopping by my Pietist blog with this story. I take your meaning. I added you to my favorites. You write well with an authentic voice.

Anonymous said...

Great writing - great blog - And it is always amazing how some folks are never happy;-} I am glad you guys were up. I have been in Mobile, Alabama since Rita and have appreciated the news and the photos of the area. Thanks for staying and putting together a great paper. Wondering if there are any extra copies of the print edition of Sunday. Will be worth keeping as a reminder of Rita. I do enjoy the online version of the paper. Not a print subscriber but would become an online reader!

Anonymous said...

I would also like to thank everyone at the Enterprise for keeping those of us who are out of state up to date. I live in Colorado, but the majority of my family live in Lumberton. Since communication with them has been difficult, it has been such a blessing to be able to check your website for even the smallest bit of information. Fortunately, all of my family are safe and have places to stay, but that was really all of the information that received. It made it much more bearable for me to know some of what has happened in the area. You all have done a wonderful job of keeping the rest of us informed.