The eleventh day of September seems not to have been our lucky day in awhile. While hurricane Harvey’s devastation in Texas was earlier… there’s still plenty of work ahead there. And hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and Florida is winding down, but its aftermath will be with us for a long time to come.
And it is 9/11, the 16th Anniversary of that terrible day so long ago -- at least it seems so long ago -- that terrible day when evil, hate- filled lunatics destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, damaged the Pentagon… and the day heroic passengers overpowered the hijackers and crashed a jetliner heading for the White House into a Pennsylvania farm.
It’s a day the fates pick to remind us of our vulnerability. And for those unaffected to be grateful for their un-affected-ness.
The farther you are from this kind of event or series of events, the less direct the effect on you.
Belle Fourche, South Dakota is the geographic center of the country. People there, if so inclined can relax in their isolation and watch the devastation in Houston, Tampa, Havana, New York, Washington, and elsewhere, imagining they’re so distant from all that that it never will affect them.
Belle Fourche is a newcomer to that position, the center only since Alaska and Hawaii became states. Before that, it was a short distance from Lebanon, Smith County, Kansas. People there are unlikely to cluck about outlying tragedy and go about their business because that’s at the heart of Tornado country.
They can feel exempt only until the next twister rips their roof off and drops two cows and a Buick in their living room. Or even worse, doesn’t rip off their roof but still drops the cows and the car into the house.
Covering the hurricanes for TV should come with combat pay. Especially since each of the networks sends one or more tiny women out in winds that wouldn’t break a sweat picking them up and sending them into the next county.
No worries. There are lots of tiny women who can do at least a passable job of saying “it sure is windy here” while standing knee deep in a river that has a road under it and fighting to stay upright and upbeat.
For awhile, it looked like the wind might blow Anderson Cooper all the way to Smith County Kansas and while he’s not a big guy, he’s not a flyweight either.
Take it from an old hand at national coverage: there’s a monkey-see-monkey-do/Polly wanna cracker aspect to competitive newsing. Earth to ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox News, the Weather Channel and anyone else with a national audience: No one is doing a lot of switching back and forth among you. People pick a channel and stay with it.
If you don’t have 58 reporters in 58 puddles or standing next to swaying palm trees or nose deep in snow, chances are nobody will notice. And think of the combat pay you’ll not have to pay. And the hospital bills. And the sick days.
In the meantime, the stricken areas do what the stricken areas always do. Wait and rebuild.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017