You might have read about the flooding in Vermont. For a former journalist, it’s always an interesting exercise to have news from your back yard suddenly go national. This is what’s happening to us this week, as the state’s massive damage from Hurricane Irene (or technically, in our case, Tropical Storm Irene) has become the leading story on national broadcasts and front pages.
Having lived through said storm on Sunday, and being a bit of a newshound, I’ve naturally been scanning the tubes for news of my adopted state and its plight. The more I read, the worse it gets. What’s happening in the southern and central parts of Vermont is truly historic, and a terrible tragedy for the state and the individuals caught up in it. Photos of damage to some of the roads – or should I say, former roads – are jaw-dropping, entire towns (small, but the whole shebang) are cut off from the rest of the world, bridges are gone, byways impassable. It will take months, if not years, and millions of dollars to clean up the mess.
But you can’t believe everything you see. On last night’s NBC Nightly News. I learned that “not an inch of the state has been untouched” by this tragedy. Well, OK, my power went out for about 25 minutes; does that count? It rained a lot – 4 inches in my rain gauge this morning – and there were some leaves down in the yard, but I drove without incident to work, passing a few downed branches en route. Oh, and the traffic light at one intersection was blinking red in both directions instead of its usual alternating red-green, red-green.
Then there was this editing error, which really jumped out at me: “Parts of every road in Vermont except Interstates 89 and 91 were closed at some point during the storm.” Wow. Sounds apocalyptic, doesn’t it? Except that if you read the press release put out by the state, you’d learn that “Parts of every state road except Interstates 89 and 91 were closed at some point during the storm.” That’s state road – as in state highway. Not quite as dire, although I’m sure the editor who changed it meant to be helpful.
Here in the state’s population center, most of us are, in fact, as untouched as we could possibly be. We are shocked and saddened by the devastation to our beloved state and our fellow Vermonters, but fortunately unscathed. So to any friends or family who have not yet called or written to make sure I’m safe and dry, let me assure you: all is well. I’m just feeling a little queasy from all the hyperbole.