Monday, August 29, 2011


            Tropical cyclone activity is not exactly unheard-of here on the North Carolina coast. I admit, it's been 12 years since Floyd dumped 40 inches of rain on us back in 1999, but residents understand what a hurricane is, and all the options for preparing for an incoming one. Our media types, however, must have lost their long-term memories or, perhaps, grew up in caves in Wyoming, because to a man they act like every potential big blow is Armageddon redux.

           "Sixty-five million people imperiled by Irene!" Matt Lauer intoned on The Today Show. (Or, at least, that's what my son Sam told me. Our television stays silent and blank most of the time. I follow important weather events from the National Weather Service website, where pictures trump the thousands of words spewed by broadcasters.) But really—what tommyrot. The implication is the Northeast Corridor is peopled exclusively by idiots. Matt really shouldn’t judge everyone by himself.

            Hyperbole is alive and well just up the road in Wilmington as well. Over the years, the children recruited to be location reporters have given us such gems as:

·         “The waves are actually breaking on the shore!!!!!” This from a young lady standing on Wrightsville Beach on a moderately overcast day with a light breeze ruffling her anorak hood.
·         “The water is right up to this wall!!!!” From a young man posted to Southport, who was apparently seeing the ocean for the first time in his life. The water comes right up to the seawall in Southport twice a day. We call it “high tide.”
·         “There’s actually sand on the streets here in Wrightsville Beach!!!!!” The young woman filing this exciting report after Floyd passed was displaying the media bias against the world south of New Hanover County. Down here in the boonies of Brunswick, more than a dozen houses had washed out to sea.

My own media bias being taxed to the limit by hundreds of reminders to lay in enough bottled water and canned goods for a month-long camping trip and/or to board up the windows and flee during the week before Irene blew by—do they really think we’re that stupid?—I composed a little ditty, which I append here for your amusement.

Twas the week before Irene,
And from every TV
Came moaning and wailing
Of what we might see.

They rolled some old footage
Of Hazel and Fran,
Making all of us think
We should move to Iran.

Their eyes, how they glittered!
Though somber of voice,
“Stockpile batteries, water,
And canned goods of choice!

“Nail up that plywood!
Get all windows covered!
She’s coming! She’s coming!”
Beachside, cameras hovered.

They updated models
Computers kept spewing.
There’re awards in their futures
If viewers keep viewing.

Their eyes, wide and fevered,
Palms dripping with sweat,
Forecasters orgasmic,
As good as it gets.

Twas the day after Irene,
We’d nothing to do
So we strolled to the ocean
To take in the view.

And what did our fully primed
Eyes hope to see?
Torn-off shingles! Hanging stair-steps!
Smashed flat-screen TVs!

Dune breaches! Erosion!
Roofs atilt in the break!
Fronts of homes missing
Showing stuff we could take.

The breeze’s light and playful,
The air crisp and clear;
As we got to the access
Our hearts filled with fear.

The water sun-sparkled
As waves hushed ashore,
We looked for destruction
Till our eyes got sore.

Irene had brushed by us,
We saw with relief.
But the tabloid reportage
Just beggared belief.

Yes, hurricanes are serious.
We know, tis the season.
Why’d the media treat us
Like we’ve all lost our reason?

Now I’m off to get the plants off the porch and perhaps rake up some of those leaves and twigs strewn about by The Great Storm.

Hope your hurricane was as non-eventful as ours was. Thanks for dropping by.


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