Colorado Springs, Colorado
By Rick Wilking
Covering natural disasters is a strange thing. You get there all in a huff, as fast as you can after the tragedy, and then try to seek out the major damage. You document all that, often busting hump for very long days, for a week or more depending on how bad it is.
Then inevitably the first weekend after the storm or fire comes and the story falls off the radar. Your editor sends you home to lick your wounds and wait for the next “big one.”
As I wrote this, another tropical storm cooked up off the coast of Africa, heading west. “It might be here in a week,” I thought. (Yes, people who cover hurricanes monitor such things.)
Would this be the next big disaster story? Or would it fizzle out?
After covering dozens of hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires (no earthquakes for me, at least not yet) I have often thought about what happens to those places after the media says adios. Sure, after Katrina we all went back for the one-year anniversary to look around but most places are just ignored years on.
Fires usually don’t have the sexy dateline a storm like Katrina does and while a fire may displace thousands of people, no one will go back to check on it.