Through the years I have often noted that the reaction of the national press to Superstorm Sandy was different than many had to Hurricane Katrina or other storms that have hit Florida or the Gulf Coast. It seems in the past, for many in the media if storms don’t hit the northeast corridor stretching from Washington D.C. to Boston, then the storms are less relevant national events. The sometimes (but not always) condescending views towards the south expressed in Katrina coverage when compared the tragic tone of Sandy coverage including the post-storm portrays that Louisiana officials were incompetent whereas New Jersey and New York officials were on the ball added to my disdain. To me it was clear northeastern bias, something I have noted in the media time and again when it comes to non-political news events.
Thankfully, even in the middle of a presidential campaign, the national press has risen to the occasion during Florida’s hour of need and angst. All three major networks broadcast live from Florida as Matthew threatened to make the 1964/1965 and 2004/2005 hurricane seasons distant memories for Floridians. MSNBC, FOX News and CNN put political coverage on the backburner as Matthew approached the state.
It was refreshing to see such emphasis on a non-political event and one that could (and might still be) historic. The late-to-the-party attitude toward Katrina and the snickering commentary some gave us in the wake of that storm has at least thus far been checked at the door.
Some other notes:
- Extreme southeastern Florida has again lucked out. Miami-Dade and Broward counties have been hit by sustained hurricane force wins just twice and once respectively since Betsy in 1965. Neighboring Palm Beach County suffered THREE storms with sustained hurricane force winds in just a 13-month period from September 2005 to October 2005. Again in Matthew, Palm Beach got far worse weather than Dade or Broward. Perhaps the University of Miami Hurricanes should be renamed the Tropical Storms? Maybe all those former Broward and Dade residents that moved north regret such a move.
- Technically the Space Coast still has not been directly hit by a Hurricane since the 1940’s. That is a technicality though. Matthew hugged the Brevard County coast and Hurricane Erin in 1995 made landfall just south of Sebastian Inlet – technically the Treasure Coast, but its impacts were far greater for Brevard.
- The myth that was in place for much of my childhood that Orlando is the safest place to be in a Hurricane is long-gone. Hurricane Charley in 2004 debunked that. Many from Orange County ended up losing power in this storm and faced constant rain and winds.
- The safest place at least statistically in the state during a hurricane seems to be the Tampa Bay area which is now approaching a 100 years since a direct hit and seems to simply get brushed or bands of rain during most Florida Hurricanes. Frances in 2004 was an exception but had already weakened to Tropical Storm strength when the bulk of it impacted the Bay Area.
- It was nice that the Panhandle and Big Bend which have taken it far worse than the rest of Florida through the years from Hurricanes (with the possible exception of the Treasure Coast) were spared this storm.