Steve Eighinger

Disasters like Hurricane Irma become more personal in today's world

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 13, 2017 8:30 am

For the last week or more, I'm sure our TV-viewing habits have been similar.

The coverage of Hurricane Irma has been captivating. I have no idea what those reporters in the field are making, but whatever the amount is, it's not enough for combat duty like that.

I am appreciative of the constant in-depth approach most of the networks have taken. I'm sure there are many across the country with relatives and friends in Florida who have been grateful. I found myself in that group over the weekend when several Facebook posts from old acquaintances made me realize how real the terror of something like a hurricane must be.

As I sat in the comfort of my living room watching and listening to NBC's Lester Holt and others from various networks, I did so in relaxing fashion. The 150-mph winds, flooding and the peripheral damage accompanying this wrath were all hundreds of miles away. It became a lot more personal, however, while I was scrolling through Facebook, particularly Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

An old friend of mine, Kaye, who I once worked with back in Ohio, now lives in Florida with her husband. They were much closer to the heart of the hurricane than I had thought. They had opted to stay behind and not evacuate, largely because they own numerous animals and were concerned about their safety.

As the storm worsened and conditions were deteriorating around them, Kaye posted on Facebook that it was unlikely we would hear from her again for a while. Power outages and other problems were beginning to take a toll, and she was worried.

Her last message at one point Saturday was, "Please pray for us."

About a day later, she was able to post another update that hinted at the damage their home had received and how they might have to try to leave, despite the elements.

Ultimately, they were able to ride out the worst of the storm, although they had been without power for several days at last report. I'm still waiting for more news.

Another old friend, Paul, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., who had moved to Florida a few years ago, was experiencing his first hurricane.

Paul took a different approach to the storm. He and his neighbors helped board up one another's homes and hunkered down for the worst.

Paul, who always had a bit of a temper, spit in Irma's face. He said he was tired of the days and days leading up to the arrival of the storm and all the pending doom that accompanied those reports.

"Bring it on!" he posted on Facebook.

Fortunately, Paul and his neighbors all survived without major damage to their homes.

I was relieved that Paul made it through relatively unscathed, and I'm hoping to soon see more information from Kaye as the hurricane recovery unfolds. Until then, I'll have to be satisfied with what Lester Holt tells me.