Every hurricane season one of my friends invariably confesses to being completely unprepared for a disaster, even though they live in a vulnerable coastal area. This column is for them.
It was first published in 2011 as Hurricane Irene was bearing down on the New York City metro area and people were laughing it up and holding hurricane parties. A year later, no one was laughing after the tropical storm now commonly known as Hurricane Sandy hammered this woefully unprepared area with its diminished winds and storm surge.
I'm updating this column again today because Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on the East Coast and appears to mean business. Most of you are not prepared. As always.
I've covered 15 hurricanes in the field in my twenty-some years in the mainstream news media, and plenty of other floods and tornadoes.
I broke the iconic story of the worst natural disaster in U.S. history with my account of the first official body count inside St. Rita's Nursing Home in 2005, where Hurricane Katrina claimed 35 lives. I started out as an observer during the body count inside the dark and flooded facility, and wound up leading it as the locals recognized familiar faces in the bloated bodies.