Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tropical Storm Chris losing steam

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All those prayers must've helped, or maybe it was all that ice that my friend SingingSkies dumped in the Gulf yesterday: Tropical Storm Chris is expected to deteriorate into a tropical depression later today. That means the cyclone's swirling winds will diminish to under 38 mph, although there'll still be some rain.

That's good news -- for now -- in the Gulf of Mexico, but as we learned during last year's horror-show of a hurricane season, it isn't wise to turn your back on a storm. It can reconstitute, wobble wildly, gain new life on a hot day, or die and resurrect like a slasher-movie monster.

This morning, several of the reporters and editors who rode out Hurricane Rita last September gathered with younger, newer reporters who'd never been through a hurricane. Nobody thinks of reporters as "first responders," but we are. The gathering was more sharing than lecture, with tips and tricks flying like Category 1 debris. Headlamps are better than flashlights. Get sleep. Be aware of your surroundings on our abandoned streets. Wear boots. Keep your gas tank near-full. Keep water and non-perishable food in your car ... and keep your car locked. Breathe. Program colleague's cell phone numbers into your phone. Move your potted plants and barbecue inside before the storm. Don't panic. Bring pillows and mattresses, because our floors are hard and cold. Don't forget bugspray and sunscreen. Have your media credential with you at all times ....

Nobody wants this or any storm to hit here, but if it does, we want to be ready and safe. These reporters and editors are taking risks, even separating from loved ones, to do what they believe in: To tell the biggest story in their town. Most days, they take a lot of crap from a culture that has grown comfortable whining about "The Media," but they want to do what's right and they want to fulfill their important promise to tell a story the best way they can. Journalists, like everyone else, make mistakes, and theirs are splashed on the front page for tens of thousands to see and ridicule. But I know they want to do it right, so they gather on mornings like this one to talk about it.

For today, though, it looks like we can get back to regularly scheduled programming ... even though we'll keep one eye on the Weather Channel.


McCaland said...

hey Ron, You should keep a roll of EvacuTape Safety labels in your glove compartment. Stay safe! we all rely on your first hand information!

SingingSkies said...

Good grief! Of course you're "first responders"! Reporters play a vital role in providing us with the important information we need to make decisions about what to do next after the storm. The only way to get that information is for someone to physically be there to see and report it. By virtue of your position, you have the access which most of us don't; therefore, your first-hand experience is no less significant than that of any other first responder.

True, those of us who live in the hurricane zone tend to ridicule the visual media for their insistence that hurrican coverage include some idiot standing in 100+ mph winds being pummeled by rain and the requisite footage of being chased across a parking lot by some mad wind-driven piece of metal. However, I, for one, truly appreciate the herculean task that the Enterprise and the rest of the local media untook to keep us informed both during and after Her Horribleness roared through.

Thank you for accepting the challenge and the risk of being first responders for us.