Hats Off to Those Who Cover Weather Events

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI watched a significant amount of news coverage of Hurricane Irma over the weekend.

I admire those correspondents who can stand out in torrential rains and 100-mph winds with perfect hair while saying coherent things in the camera despite the fact that a flying stop sign could chop off their head at any minute.

On my first day in the news business, I acted significantly different during a similar situation.

The summer of 1985 started with me working at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Huntsville, Ala. It was the summer before my senior year of college. I didn’t have a very important job. I spent my day with a spray can of stainless steel cleaner and a rag making sure my area was spotless.

While I was grateful for the opportunity, polishing stainless steel all day and into the night was a bit monotonous.

My prayers were answered, however, later in the summer when I got a call from the newspaper in Athens, Ala. They wanted me to work up until fall quarter doing some general assignment writing.


My boss at the Coke plant let me out of my offer to work out a notice. It wasn’t like I held the secret formula or anything, but still, I appreciated him for it.

The next morning, I barreled into the newsroom about the same time as the remnants of Hurricane Elena barreled toward north Alabama.

To the best of my recollection I clocked in, put my pimento cheese sandwich in the refrigerator and immediately took cover under a big counter in the composing room.

That’s where I met my co-workers.

The publisher was a big, burly guy who could smoke an entire cigarette while typing a story without ever touching it with his hands. He was under there, along with three or four other employees, including the sports editor.

I already liked him because he had put my name in the paper once and said I “put the icing on the cake” for making the game-winning free throw during my junior high basketball career.

They all seemed nice enough. Of course, it was dark, and we were under a tornado warning, so I guess they may have been afraid not to be nice just in case we met our demise over the next 15 minutes or so.

After the storm had passed, my boss sent me to some remote place out in the county where the tornado reportedly touched down.

I felt like Jim being sent by Marlin Perkins into a hyena den, but what choice did I have?

I was supposed to look for a little store, where the damage reportedly occurred. When I got there, all I saw was a concrete slab. The walls were gone. The roof was gone. The shelves, cans of food, milk, bread, everything was gone.


It was surreal.

I took a couple of photos, talked to a guy in overalls, then flew back to the newsroom to file my story.

I was the primary contributor to the lead story on my first day of work. I felt like Edward R. Murrow or any of the other greats we’d learned about in journalism school.

Of course, Ed probably wouldn’t have ridden the storm out under a counter.

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him: currin01@gmail.com

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