On Saturday afternoon I arrived back at my home and home office in Minneapolis. As detailed here, the Texas leg of Hurricane Coverage was alternately rewarding and frustrating, with some access blocked that I would have liked to have gotten, a fatality on the lines of recovery work that meant working directly with crews was off-limits, and the lack of a lot of good visuals to represent the floodwaters that were in the process of receding from Houston. In retrospect, the Corpus Christi area (more accurately Port Aransas) provided the best video and photo opportunities, and my hosts at AEP Texas were simply terrific, albeit with some restrictions placed on them by extenuating circumstances. For what I got out of it, I could have perhaps skipped Houston altogether and focused on further south, but live and learn, as they say.
And one of the lessons I learned was that while as a media member I’m a staunch defender of the public’s right to know, and if possible, see what is happening, sometimes being in a storm recovery zone, you can do more harm than good. First responders don’t really have time nor the inclination (naturally) to prioritize the media’s needs and rightly so. Police vehicles line many of the hardest hit areas, and security personnel are very much concerned about looting and property destruction in the wake of a storm. There are also resource limitations — gas shortages or outages, lack of accommodations, no food or water (boil-only restrictions). And then simple logistics. Hurricanes throw both natural and man-made debris all over the place, blocking roads, closing bridges, flooding culverts. Airports are closed, as were many in South Florida over the weekend and early into the week of Sept. 11.
So, in consultation with T&D World Strategic Director Rick Bush, I made the decision to wait a week for Florida coverage. As we discussed, some “great reporting” was being left (by us) on the ground in Florida, but personally I felt better letting the first responders get there first, and the earliest I could get there was the following Monday.
This blog entry is being written in the past tense, as it is now Wednesday, Sept. 20. The decision to wait has been validated. While much of south Florida is somewhat cleaned up, and most but not all power has been restored through the heroic efforts of numerous utilities coming to mutual aid, there is still so much to see and report from here.
Yesterday was much of Southwest Florida - the Gulf Coast from Punta Gorda on down to Marco Island. So much to report from there; will fill a few blog posts for the next few days. Also many, many photos and video, which will culled upon my return. Because today it’s off the Florida Keys, where Irma has also left quite a mark, or so I’m told.