Nate didn’t rate all the media hype, pre-storm frenzy
Nate failed to come close to its threat of tidal surge and inundating rains in New Orleans, but not because we didn’t try.
The city has four TV stations that cover local news and weather, and they are very competitive in normal weather. During most broadcasts anchors get in some “we-brought-you-first” claim about a nugget of news or trivia — the same claims we hear from the Memphis channels. Every one of them mobilized full staffs of on-air talent, including sports reporters, sending them to the usual southeast Louisiana trouble spots in an attempt to capture for viewers the sounds, sights and fury of the storm. Finding none, they spent hours improvising remarkably well.
All local programming Saturday and Sunday morning, including college football games, was pre-empted and moved to digital sub-channels to allow main line Nate coverage. They spread out from Grand Isle to Ysclokey for views and interviews. Every parish emergency official in southeast Louisiana eventually found his five minutes of — regional media exposure.
The coverage rotated from one location to another, with intrepid reporters trying to find some sign of Nate. If the wind rustled the branches of a tree in the camera’s view, we saw it. If the water’s surface on some canal or bayou was rippled, we saw it.
Meanwhile, shoppers flooded grocery stores, crowded gas stations, and stocked up on household storm supplies.
And there was rain, wind and high tides — most of it east of New Orleans along the Mississippi coast and even there officials voiced relief afterwards that the hurricane had not lived up to its billing.
As our neighbor said Sunday, “If we’re going to have a hurricane, that’s the kind to have.”
Or as one of the intrepid New Orleans news anchors said Saturday night around 8 p.m. after Mayor Mitch Landreau had lifted a citywide curfew originally set for 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., freeing the 40,000 or so city visitors to roam the French Quarter with impunity: “Nate is a halfacane.”