Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Hurricanes and Such...

Growing up a South Louisiana Girl, hurricanes are a way of life. I can remember as a child spending many a storm on a blanket in the hall listening to the wind whip around the house and watching my mother nervously fret about something breaking the windows. My Mother worried so about windows breaking, that when she had the opportunity to change out the large picture window in the living room, she replaced it with a rock wall and a small window. My father used to add to my mother's nervousness by insisting on not participating in the "hunker down in the hall away from the windows" activity. He would sleep on the sofa in the room with the large picture window, or go to bed in a bedroom with two windows near two sides of the bed. The horror!

So, when I arrived in DC on Monday, I wasn't really too worried about the storm knowing I was scheduled to return on Tuesday night. Believe me, for years my mother worried enough to cover the entire family for eternity. What I did become concerned about late Monday night was the airport closing until Friday and me not being able to get home. The vision of my husband, child, and assorted critters 'roughing it' without Mommy was not a pleasant one. I talked with Toby, predicted the hurricane would stall (I was a former Environmental Science teacher, from the days when you had to be certified and know something to be able to teach, I can read weather maps), but decided it was better to come home and make it than to stay in DC, be stuck until Thursday or Friday, and regret it.

When the storm stalled half on land and half on water, I knew we were in for a long, windy, wet ride. I knew the added water would cause many more trees to fall. I also knew the longer period of exposure to category 1 or tropical storm winds had the potential to be much worse than shorter exposure to stronger storms. Hurricanes are trackable, but unpredictable acts of nature. They are a force to be reckoned with and can be devastating to a community and/or state. One of the things that I agree with my late mother on, is that you should listen to the news and be aware of how the storm is progressing and where it will hit. We used to do that by watching Nash Roberts on Channel 4 and when the power would go, listening to it on the radio. As such, when I arrived home on Monday, I turned the Weather Channel on and proceeded to secure the outside of the house.

At some point on Tuesday, I gave up on The Weather Channel. A storm can be nerve wracking enough without the added sensationalistic journalism tact that The Weather Channel was taking. The whole, struggling to stand on the street and go outside thing was neither amusing, nor realistic. Throughout the storm my hubby and I took our dogs out for potty breaks (this is true for every storm). Wind gusts can be challenging and the whipping rain is stinging. We've also spent a great deal of time in New Orleans, one of our favorite getaways. Sometimes on a regular day, the wind from the River down Canal St. is substantial. As several points, they were saying, this storm could be worse than Katrina. Really? At times, they seemed disappointed that the storm wasn't worse than it was and that New Orleans didn't take a direct hit. When they said it made landfall but there was no city, I found myself wondering what they think Bootheville, Venice, and Orchid are. They are not major cities, but they are towns, significant to industry in our state, with people who live and make a living there.

I will admit that in some areas, the flooding was much worse than Katrina. However, if you look at the overall impact, I think you will find that this storm was not as damaging as Katrina. This morning, 39% of the state is without electricity. Post Katrina, 95% of the state was without electricity. For Katrina, we were out of power for most of the storm and 5-7 days after the storm. I really don't know how the reporting for this storm compared with the reporting for Katrina. I didn't have power or access to TV during that time. If I had, I may have been just as frustrated if not more with the coverage. I do know that there was a major focus on the events in New Orleans and little coverage on areas of Mississippi and Alabama that were completely demolished. I do know this, I'll stick to viewing the maps on The Weather Channel's site for future storms. A storm is bad enough without sensationalistic journalism making it worse than it is. I'd prefer, "Just the facts, ma'am."