So you think Irene was a storm? Please

Published 12:34 am Wednesday, August 31, 2011

As I watched the Hurricane Irene coverage from start to finish, I was amazed at the creativeness of the media reporting on the weather event.

It also made me ask myself, “What is it about storms that bring out the dumb in people?”

As news gatherers, it’s our job to present the story from all angles; to create a thought-provoking piece using words and photos, or in some cases, a video camera and a microphone. During Irene, even I was amazed at some of the angles that were taken – and I’m a pretty creative person (sometimes).

When I saw one report where they were likening Irene to the most devastating hurricane to hit the U.S. coast in last 20 years, I nearly dumped out my sweet tea.

I thought right then and there, I’ve had enough. This has gone too far.

Irene was no Katrina, and to even try to compare the two was dumb.

I guess maybe it was because the novelty of a hurricane hitting the East Coast that the coverage was so in-depth. That’s the only thing I could think. It could have been, too, that most of the major television networks are located in that area, and it’s really hard to not be overwhelmed when news is happening right at your back door.

Latest reports indicate more than 40 people lost their lives in the storm – two from Connecticut (one of whom drowned while canoeing down a flooded street); one died while surfing in Florida; and two in New York, who, for some reason, were out enjoying a day on the bay.

Senseless deaths that could have been avoided had caution been exercised.

Hurricanes are no laughing matter. As Southerners, we know that to be fact. But did we really need 24-7 coverage of disaster meetings for a category 1 hurricane? I think not. I’m all for covering a story, but wasn’t there something else happening any where else that deserved at least a 20-second spot on the nightly news or a three-minute interview on the network?

On more than one instance, I’ve seen trees tossed like matchsticks; and whole houses demolished. I’ve been without running water for five days and watched as the National Guard handed out MREs and bottles of water.

I don’t remember seeing any television crews then.

Maybe I’m just cynical, but in my opinion, a fellow newspaper reporter summed up the media coverage of Hurricane Irene perfectly: “East Coast: I never again want to hear you laugh at us Southerners for over-reacting about 3 inches of snow.”