On Monday afternoon I was doing the same thing as pretty much every other journalist in the state — driving around, taking photos and interviewing people affected by Hurricane/Tropical Storm/ Whatever-you-want-to-call-her, Irma.
Or, that was the plan.
Normally, I don’t have any problems when it comes to tracking down a story: A phone call tip, quick private message on Facebook, a lucky catch over the scanners — and I’m there, camera in hand.
More than once I’ve simply stumbled across news while going about my day because in this profession, over time, you kind of develop a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Or, so I thought.
To my extreme irritation, Irma was proving to be an elusive creature to catch in action and after a cold, wet and rainy day driving around looking for damage to shoot — and coming up empty handed — I gave up, packed away my camera gear and was headed home.
I had just picked up my son from the in-laws and was driving down Brushy Creek Road, at this point looking forward to nothing except for changing into some flannel pants, eating casserole and sipping on a glass of red wine when Irma decided to bring the storm to me.
Right in front of me, a tree fell on a power line, blocking off Brushy Creek Road — and guess who no longer had her camera on her? That’s right.
Cops and utility worked showed up with flashing lights and bucket trucks to secure the scene and here I am juggling a two-year-old and trying to take photos in the rain with an outdated crappy iPhone.
I kicked myself the whole way home for not keeping my camera gear with me.
As luck would have it, a couple of the shots turned out decent enough for me to use but the situation was … let’s just say … less than ideal. (Apparently Mother Nature has zero respect for newspaper reporters just trying to make a deadline.)
When I got home that night my husband laughed at my whining of hardly having any photos and reminded me that we do live in Pickens County — was I really hoping for mass carnage and destruction?
Now, don’t judge, but honestly, yes and no.
Let me explain! Did I want the Upstate destroyed by a hurricane? Floods and debris and casualties? Of course not. I have the utmost respect for life and I don’t want that to happen anywhere, certainly not my home.
But … On the other hand, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a teeny bit excited about the idea of reporting first hand on a natural disaster. Am I terrible person? Eh, maybe. But it’s not like I was the one causing mayhem and destruction … A storm either hits or it doesn’t, it’s not my fault.
OK, OK, deep down I know that not having a lot of damage to cover was a good thing — I really do.
But you know those reporters you see on TV in ponchos who stand in knee-deep water and get clobbered by flying stop signs while trying to cover storms?
Most people — most sane people — when they watch coverage like that, say “Who would do that? Why would they want to?” and “You couldn’t pay me enough.”
The answer is Me. I would do that. Happily.
Just as soon as I get out of my flannels and finish my wine.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper’s opinion.