Wow… two hurricanes, two tropical depressions… yeah baby we’re flirtin’ with disaster! Sorry Molly Hatchet for rippin off your song, but it works! I’ve been part of a few productions that have been disasters in the recent past, but I haven’t been in a huge natural disaster for a couple of years… and the adrenaline is starting to pump again.
My family and friends think I’ve lost it. (again) I’m sitting here watching The Weather Channel (that’s their first clue) and cheering on the storms — Gustav heading to the Gulf, Hannah (wouldn’t it have been sweet for its name to be Hillary?) headed to the islands and then maybe Florida, and two more potential big storms in the Atlantic.
Before I get flamed, I don’t wish suffering on anyone. I have spent decades in more than 65 nations working with people who have lost everything. I covered Hurricane Katrina, the Mexico City earthquake, volcanos, typhoons, military coups, wars, I’ve worked in the largest refugee camp in the world in Peshawar Pakistan, produced live TV from a community of squatters living on the garbage dump in Manila Philippines. I’ve been shot at for being in the wrong place at the wrong time just to show the world the truth. I’ve paid for the funeral for a family in Zambia who had nothing and whose wife and mother had just died of AIDS. I’ve been at the borrowed hut of a 16 year old former slave and her two children of rape who had escaped from her Arab slavemaster to return to her homeland in South Sudan – who owned literally nothing. Even her one rag of a dress was borrowed. I still see the face of the mother in Ethiopia staring blankly into my camera lens, no tears left to cry, as she covered the lifeless body of her child with a cloth, another death of famine. I’ve been witness to unspeakable loss and suffering, and experienced great pain myself, and I wish it on no one.
But if you’ve covered hard news, been at the scene of history being made, and put true, responsible (and award-winning helps!) reporting on the air, you get itchy when big news happens and you’re not there. So, if Gustav turns nasty… my bags and HD camera are packed!