Weather Channel: It's Raining Men
I live a block from the Hudson River, categorized as Zone A, an evacuation area. But like the rest of my co-op, I'm going down with the iPad. Evacuate? I'll take Manhattan, forget the Bronx and Staten.
I made the requisite water, batteries and Twizzlers run. Of course, Saturday afternoon, I wondered what to do about the windows. D-Day is not the best time to discover one should have visited Mr. Hardware.
Instead, I relied on the TV experts -- glued to New York 1, the local cable channel, and The Weather Channel. And in between useful and strangely addictive information -- what to pack in your Go Bag, key emergency centers, there was some off-kilter remarks.
But first, the practical realities. Ever since Katrina's "Heck of a job, Brownie," no politician wants to be caught unprepared.
For my money, NYC Mayor Bloomberg inspires muy confidence, ditto New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He positioned himself before the National Guard, stressing state efficiency, while extolling the partnership between government and the public in safeguarding lives. New Jersey Gov. Christie sounded like a disgruntled bouncer -- risk-prone Jersey residents could get out or shut up. For those who may entertain presidential ambitions, cool and competent beats huffing and puffing every time.
But in between the technical updates of Hurricane Irene -- which are impressive -- and the ongoing local impact as it traveled up the East Coast, there were some wacky exchanges.
On Saturday, in Nags Head, North Carolina, The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel and New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter stood side-by-side, tiny drenched blue specks against a super-windy white background.
"He's down here covering how we cover the storm," Seidel shared. Really? Since when did the NYT become "The Daily Show." "What's it like out there?" the comfortably dry in-studio anchor asked. Stelter likened the experience to a "tilt-a-whirl," admitting: "It's a littler harder to stay on the air than I thought." Not to be outdone, Seidel added: "We don't get sand pay, buddy."
In review lingo, we call that "plucky."
A day earlier, another Weather Channel correspondent stood in the high reeds alongside the N.C. coast, sounding slightly disappointed that the promised devastation had yet to hit. He'll feel differently when the wind blows his lips off.
In New York, TWC's Jim Cantore, who easily wins The Most Buffed Reporter Ever award, flexed in front of the Atlantic Ocean, as he relayed the possible dire consequences on Lower Manhattan. Highly animated, Big J noted: "We may be shut down for weather! Wow!"
By Sunday, flooding hit the Northeast and an estimated 4 million nationwide were without power. People from North Carolina to Vermont were slammed by Irene's destructive power.
I respect the correspondents who brave the elements to report the news. It's clearly dangerous work, and reporters can be forgiven the repetition and sheer fatigue. The networks do a terrific job of bringing viewers critical information. In a crisis, TV is still the best medium.