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Hurricane Hangovers
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
As the thankless job of cleaning up after a pair of hurricanes continues across the southeast - and the weather system formerly known as Irma continues to make a mess- everyone in the national media seems to be suffering a bit of hurricane hangover.

In a news cycle that "normally" runs about 72 hours for anything from political scandals to small insurrections, the idea of almost two weeks of a single topic dominating the headlines is slightly beyond the imaginations of the latest crop of talking heads.

With the possible exception of the Weather Channel, where every natural calamity is celebrated (either as the opportunity to stand out in dangerous weather or blather about it for hours on end from a high-tech studio) the news outlets are suffering a serious case of "now what can we talk about?"

That's nothing new, because the idea of applauding the efforts of thousands of "regular people" who are working their collective tails off trying to make the region habitable again simply doesn't fit their odd narrative. Seems many of them are now guided by a simple rule when covering "weather-related events": if global warming can't be cited as the root cause, it's not news.

While workers are still making rescues (above), other lesser-populated areas like our national public lands (below) are waiting for their restoration efforts to get underway. Images courtesy of FWC and Chattahoochee Oconee National Forests, with permission

Now they're on to another unfortunately predictable phase: finding people who want to blame someone for their particular predicament after the storm. In nearly a half century of covering natural calamities, it's as predictable as dawn following a sunset.

Unfortunately, it's neither essential nor helpful.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of recovery workers and residents are working at trying to restore some normalcy to victims' lives. And it seems one NFL football player (JJ Watt) has already accomplished more to help with the Texas recovery efforts than the hundreds of hours of "continuing coverage" of all the local and national media-combined.

Rather than simply watching, JJ Watt and his friends got involved by asking people to help. And "regular people" responded by digging into their pockets and giving. Other celebrities will get involved, and their exhortations will (hopefully) encourage more of us to help with our dollars if we can't help with our actual presence- although having too-many people milling around after a catastrophe can create the potential for another calamity.

There's no need to panic if you're not able to help today. Having watched after Katrina ravaged Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, I know there will still be plenty of people and places needing assistance in the foreseeable future.

There will be plenty of opportunities to help. United Airlines, for example, is giving 250-1,000 bonus miles for cash donations to their disaster relief partners, and LaQuinta is giving their members the chance to donate their rewards toward nights for relief workers or people displaced by the hurricanes.

Helping isn't hard...and it's one of those things you can do that actually can be habit forming - and positive.

--Jim Shepherd

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