Sunday, June 29, 2008

Omaha storm in context

The media has mildly noticed the major storm that whipped Obama Friday with some national news stories here and there. Thousands are without power and will be for days.

We here in the Mid South can certainly sympathize.

But when Memphis was hit with Hurricane Elvis back in 2003 hardly anyone sympathized. That's because few even heard about it:
It took two weeks to restore power to many of those who had lost it in the storm. Temperatures reached past 90°F (32°C) leaving many residents unprotected from dangerously hot conditions. Many Memphians were distressed that though they had survived hurricane-like conditions and weeks without power, little national news coverage was given to the event. Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton said in a CNBC interview that he was "Feeling a bit lonely, because it seems that from a national perspective it never happened. We suffered a 'dry-land hurricane'... yet we see on the national news over in Galveston, they got more coverage on a hurricane that never did occur." In contrast, less than a month later, national news coverage was extensive when New York City residents were left without power for a few hours.
This was in the days before Katrina but Memphis is a lot like New Orleans in many ways. Not sure whether Mayor Wharton (the other A.C.) was trying to sneakily bring a racial angle in at the time, but he might have been.

Regardless, the McCloud household was lucky--we were only without power for five and a half days, many lost it for weeks. The damage in east Memphis looked every bit like a hurricane--snapped power poles and huge oaks laying on downed lines everywhere. And that was five days afterwards when we finally got in the car and took a sightseeing trip. So yes, we feel for Omaha residents putting up with spoiling food and summer heat at this time. We know what's it's like. It's also a good reminder to restock the home emergency kit.