Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Irene Diaries: Friday Morning

Attention on Deck"The news crew awoke before dawn...they put their boots on." Actually, we went with flip-flops. That hussy rainmaker known as Irene was still was doing her make-up off shore, leaving us the better part of a day to pretend to be tourists. But tourists rarely rise before four. They don't rig the business end of a fishing pier in wire and lights in hopes they'll lure in viewers. It's exactly what we did. Taking a stance behind my sticks, I traded gazes with reporter Sheeka Strickland as distant co-workers chortled in out earbuds. Across the parking lot, Chris Weaver hunched over some buttons in our television transmission truck and tuned in the bird.

Surfer InterviewBird. That's tee-veese for satellite. Without them, we couldn't beam our signal back to the Greater Piedmont Googolplex. But it wasn't just our homeland we were about to slather in storm warning. No, we were gonna hook up every step-sister station down the line with breathless remotes on the coming or Irene. It sounds tawdry but it's not. Once Sheeka wrapped up our local report, she and I stood down while Weaver dialed up another affiliate. Like magic, new voices poured from the tiny speakers wedged in our ears. Soon a voice would address us directly, tell her we were about to go on air with Susie and Chet, Brock and Sasha, Bert and Ernie. Sheeka blinked away the introductions, until the booming sound of an out of town anchor began mangling every fact they could find.

Rainy Pier"Hurricane Irene is barreling toward the South Carolina coast, Streeka Shickland is on the Outer Banks there and joins us from Atlantic City." This went on for hours as Sheeka's image bounced from Phoenix to Florida to Connecticut and back again. At some point I lost track, if not consciousness, of the places we visited while standing on that pier. All I knew is that the bigger the market we beamed into, the cheesier the game-show voice in my headset sounded. Four hours later, we were just about done, which was a good thing since our immediate surroundings had sprung to life. Cops, surfers, carpenters and reprobates milled about the place, each one marveling at the darkening skies and newly erected spotlights. That's when the industrial-strength raindrops began to fall.

It would not stop raining for twenty eight more hours...

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