On Covering Weather, Hurricane Sandy and E-mail Abstinence

I started my career as a reporter and, in that capacity, covered many a weather event – most being in Binghamton, NY, where weather is a primary topic of conversation.

There was, for example, the small matter of snow – the most memorable being the Blizzard of ’93, when 42 inches fell on the Southern Tier. Not only did I cover the onset of the storm, but those of us that did were unable to leave work at the end of the night, as the area was still in a State of Emergency and, well, our cars were under drifts that were four feet high (I stood on the roof of my car).  The paper put us up in a hotel within walking distance. We trudged our way down the middle of an empty, plowed highway at 1 a.m. – none of the sidewalks or shoulders were clear. I still have a copy of the memo from our editor that gave us kudos for coming back in the next day in the same clothes without brushing our teeth – only to do it all again.

My best memory of Day 2 was driving in the snow to Owego, NY (17 miles or so west of Vestal), hitting the brakes at a stop light and entering a full 360-degree turn. I ended up facing west, the direction in which I was traveling), still in my lane and fully intact. The funny part: A family sitting in a mini-van also at the light in the oncoming lane applauded me as I moved through the intersection.

Then there were the floods. I have photographic evidence of me covering those. The photographer covering with me took 15 or so pictures of me – I stand 5-4 at best – wearing hipboots designed for someone 6-feet tall or more. Slowly, I waded into the flood waters only to find that they were deeper than the length of my legs. The boots quickly filled up, rendering the hipboots useless. The last batch of pictures shows me emptying the boots in front of one of the paper’s logo-emblazened cars. Since I was saturated from the waist down, the photog (Eric, I couldn’t find your Twitter handle …) stopped at my house so I had time to change my clothes on the way back to the paper. I cherish that batch of photos – they are a testiment not only to how deep the water was and how short I am, but also what bad hair I had in 1993.

My point: I’m getting a kick out of this Hurricane Sandy coverage. Part of me wants to be on one of those piers feeling the wind and water on my face – there are elements of that that, as a reporter, are absolutely enchanting. That is particularly true in situations like this, an historic event the likes of which no one has ever seen. That’s what the Blizzard of ’93 was – historic. There’s something exhilerating, yet daunting, about that when you’re bringing other people that information.

To e-mail … interesting Twitter exchange today with @adrianchira. He instigiated an e-mail moratorium of sorts with the people he works with and found that relationships got stronger, communication was better and interaction was far more positive in nature.

I’m going to try that for myself.

Unless it’s an absolute emergency or potentially life-altering event, I won’t be answering e-mail this week. Instead, I’ll ask anyone wanting to reach me to call – 917-640-6256 – and either speak to me or leave a message. (Granted, we have a hurricane on our hands here in the NE, so it might not be the most active or challenging time to embark on this, but it’s a good opportunity to soft-launch the idea.) If you want to text me in advance to see if I’m around, that’s fine, but the substance of the outreach should be in a call.

Thanks in advance and hopefully I’ll have some results to report next week!

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