Some have told me to “let it go”. Others have told me “it’s a lost cause”. Still others have accused me of being “crazy” and through it all, NO ONE has told me “keep it up”. What is this all about?
One month ago today a major hurricane hit the Louisiana coast near Grand Isle. Hurricane Gustov continued inland and hurricane force winds battered places as far away as Baton Rouge relentlessly. Meanwhile, down the road in New Orleans all the reporters from all the major news outlets were focused on watching a few waves overtop a few levees. With every ounce of their being they were hoping to see the levees break and their cameras provide live footage of the greatest flood of all time.
All the willing of all the media could not force the levees to break. After a day of anticipation, they were bitterly disappointed that there was no huge story coming out of New Orleans. With heavy heart they trudged to either St. Paul to cover the Republican convention they never wanted to attend, or to South Carolina on the off chance Tropical Storm Hanna might turn into a real newsworthy storm.
While Hanna was huffing and puffing and not really doing much of anything, Hurricane Ike was ripping the Bahamas and then Cuba apart like an angry monster let loose on the city. Of course no reporters are allowed in Cuba and no one in their right mind would have stayed in the Bahamas. Thus, the real story of Ike was neglected, just as the real story of Gustov.
For days, the headlines regarding Ike were directed towards Florida. Where and how this became the focus of attention is baffling. Ike was never headed that way. Still, whenever the folks on Key West are told to evacuate, that becomes the almighty big story of any storm. Why do people live there anyway?
Consider these facts. In the twelve days between Hurricane Gustov and Hurricane Ike, there was basically NO media coverage of Gustov’s damage except in the immediate New Orleans/Baton Rouge areas. Even the television outlets in coastal Mississippi did not cover the story. There were far bigger fish to fry than spending resources on covering a little ole storm that hit a section of Louisiana no one in the United States knows or cares about.
FEMA, the Red Cross, Salvation Army and a few other charities were on the scene providing a little help; but the response after Gustov was minimal and a disgrace to the heart of disaster relief in this country. If we are going to selectively pick and choose who receives aid, media coverage and prayers; our country has slid down the slope to extinction.
As Ike grew into the sprawling monster he became, of course every news outlet rushed crews to Galveston and Houston in anticipation of a huge story. Dreams of Katrina like footage flooded the minds of reporters looking for the story that would catapult them to the “big time”. As dire warnings were issued for those refusing to evacuate circulated, the army of reporters spread out to find safe areas to weather the storm at, yet be close enough to provide graphic shots of the impending carnage.
Images of reporters being swept off their feet in the rising storm surge made the rounds on the internet along with pictures of fools hanging sideways on light poles as the rising winds came ashore. Stupid interviews with people bragging about not evacuating but staying in their beachfront houses drinking beer and partying were still filling television screens the afternoon before the storm hit.
When the media went to bed that Friday night Ike came ashore, they were like children on Christmas Eve. Surely the next morning would provide days of coverage of a totally wiped out Galveston and a severely crippled Houston. Awards and high ratings danced through their heads as they endured a night of wind and storms.
But, alas, once again the weather gods did not cooperate. With bitter disappointment these loyal foot soldiers of the media giants went out to battle on Saturday only to find huge sections of Galveston still standing and worse yet, Houston was barely touched. With clenched fists they cursed the weather gods for not sending the 20 foot storm surge that would have leveled Galveston and crippled the oil and gas industries in Houston for years. Instead, all they got was a little category 2 hurricane with a storm surge that only destroyed places too far to film and that no one cared about.
As a result of Ike not killing 100,000 people, totally destroying the city of Galveston or flooding half of Houston; the media stayed long enough to give a few reports for a few days and then started the mass exodus to find the next big story that America craved to see. Within a week to ten days after Ike, most of the national media were long gone and by two weeks after the storm, there were no longer ANY stories about Ike, Galveston, Houston, the Texas coast or Louisiana.
What have we come to in this country? Do we simply cast off those who suffer the loss of their homes, jobs and families simply because the carnage was not great enough to warrant continued coverage? The media stayed in New Orleans and to a lesser degree the Mississippi coast for months after Katrina. Through their constant coverage of the devastation came the impetus for America to give of their goods, money and time to help those in need.
Since the media has chosen to forsake those affected by Gustov and Ike, there is but a trickle of help heading their way. The response by America to these hurricanes has been tepid at best and non-existent most of the time. America has quickly forgotten about Ike because of the soap opera playing out in Washington over the “bail out”. While debate continues on giving 700 billion to bail out banks, an obscure bill was passed giving a few billion dollars to help those affected by Gustov and Ike.
I know times are tough and everyone is uptight about money, but that does not give an excuse to forget about those who have lost everything and are only starting on the long journey to normalcy. Even the incredible story out of Atlanta regarding gasoline shortages has only in the past two days made the headlines (near the bottom). Either America does not care anymore about helping her fellow citizens in time of need or they do not know what the need is due to the arrogance and ratings driven media who have shirked their duty by failing to cover Gustov and stick with the Ike stories. Shame on you.