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Confessions of a wannabe reporter
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Are you shaking your head, wondering how the Tampa Bay area got away with it again?

Yes, we escaped another hurricane, but we still are struggling with the psychological torment, the wasted time, the extra money spent on supplies, and the uncertainty we continue to feel about the whole summer season.

In other words, we’re still as selfish as ever.

With weather, the anticipation is the part of the game that does me in. There’s the waiting for the storm, then leaving the house not knowing if anything will be there when you return, then there’s the “riding out the storm” phase and the aftermath – waiting again for everything from power to roofers.

At every turn, there’s lots of wondering, worrying, sweat and, yes, boredom.

As community journalists, we have been here, struggling between our obligation to serve the public, and our needs and desire to take care of our families and our homes. We are not, to be honest with ourselves, reporters on Action News, or even on special assignment with a big daily paper.

Still, we are reporters, and there is always something gnawing away at us to do a little more than another resident might, to find out what’s going on, to get the photo, to be there for some action.

This was the feeling I had as my family and I holed up for the weekend of Frances.

Sunday afternoon, one of my reporters called me to tell me about how people were traveling Gulf Boulevard and how he and his photojournalist wife had taken photos at the beach. (Later, I found out they did all this assessing and snapping from the safety of their condominium balcony. At the time, I had envisioned them fighting against the wind and torrential rain to get that piece of the action.) I was inspired.

“We must go out and cover the storm,” I announced to my family when I hung up the phone.

My protective husband declared I was not allowed to go. Then he grabbed the keys when I started heading for them myself, and insisted on driving. He did not trust me, he said, to avoid unnecessary chances. My kids were not to be left home, either, and they grabbed their ponchos and ran out into the wind and rain.

First, we joined the procession at John’s Pass. Everyone was there to see the water splashing up against the rocks. It’s not an unusual sight, still I got out and hastily snapped a shot before my camera got damaged. It was a great shot, a super angle. (Later, I found out that I had taken a really good action shot of my poncho, which was coming apart and kept flying over my face.)

Onward and upward along the beaches we ventured. My husband, who is deficient in taking orders, did a horrible job driving. He kept stopping too far ahead of the angle I needed to take a picture, and he refused to listen to me when I told him which side of the car I needed to open the window to use the camera. I was really trying to plan so that the rain would not actually be driving into the open window and soak my camera when I was taking the drive-by shot.

He just didn’t understand and we continued yelling back and forth. In the meantime, one of my children was getting sick in the back seat because of poncho-overheat (there is no air conditioning in my car) and the other child kept suggesting very loudly that we go home and drop Dad off and try this again – at which point he said something not very polite.

After making the obligatory visit to the beach, getting drenched, and nearly blowing down the beach itself along with those awful bubbles that get swept up along the shoreline, it was time to go home.

We got out of the car, and naturally, the rain stopped.

But hey, we got action – and that was just enough for me.

Mary Burrell is managing editor and editor of the Beach Beacon and Seminole Beacon.
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