Thursday, August 03, 2006
Tropical Storm Chris losing steam
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.