• E-mail Rick!
[ed. note: Stay locked on FNC for special Hurricane Ivan coverage starting Sun. 9 p.m. ET]
Sept. 10, 2004 9:28 a.m.
After four days of the Republican National Convention, and six days weathering Frances, I spent all of 22 hours at home in New York City before leaving to cover another hurricane.
My flight from Miami to Newark arrived Wednesday afternoon at 4:30, and traffic was terrible into Manhattan. I made it to my apartment around 6 p.m., went to the U.S. Open around 8 p.m., watched some tennis and got rained on for the sixth straight day and was home by 12:30 a.m. I slept late and was doing laundry Thursday afternoon when I got the call.
“You still want to cover Ivan?”
“Yes, of course,” I answered.
“We'd like you to leave for Florida tonight so you can be in position to go live Friday at noon.”
I was hoping to leave Saturday, or Friday night at the earliest, so I could spend at least an hour or two with my girlfriend, who lives out of town and was flying in Friday afternoon.
Kendall Hagan, our deputy bureau chief in New York, understood. “I'm sorry,” she told me. “You can say no...”
I packed the clothes I just washed and made it to the airport in time to wait with my producer Gary Gastelu for our delayed flight to Miami. As we were landing, the guy next to me remarked how everyone on the flight would probably be flying back to New York the next day to run from the storm. “Not me,” I said. “I'm going straight to Key West.” His jaw literally dropped. “To board up?” he asked. “Nope,” I told him. “To wait for the hurricane.”
Gary got his bag (I carried on), we picked up a four-wheel-drive Dodge Durango, and hit the road for the three-plus hour drive to Key West. When we got off the Turnpike and began the journey down Route 1 we stopped at a gas station and loaded up two coolers with water, gatorade, snacks, and breakfast bars.
At 2:30 a.m., Key West looked like a ghost town. Many of the stores, bars, and restaurants are already boarded up. We're staying right on Duval Street, the main drag, and could be here a few days, although if Ivan doesn't hit us hard and heads towards Tampa we'll probably leave as soon as the storm passes and head for the Gulf Coast.
I'm so glad you will be reporting Ivan. I stayed with FOX all weekend to hear your reports on Frances. No other reporter and crew literally saves lives as they travel!
Judy in Tennessee
Sounds like you are going to have some fun! The Keys are a beautiful place except when there is a Hurricane about to hit! The last one, Andrew almost wiped the Keys off the map. My parents have a house at The Ocean Reef Club (when you are done reporting on this story, go there, if it is still there!) and after Andrew hit it was a mess. A 65 foot yacht was sunk in the canal behind the house. If these places are open and still standing, try The Italian Fisherman, and The Sundowner. Awesome food and drinks!! (Both located in Key Largo).
You were a great link between myself here in Atlanta and my parents in Florida. Between you, Geraldo, and Adam Housley, I felt like I knew what was going on down there. That is a huge comfort when your parents are in harms way. Their house on the Sebastian River lost a window and they have been w/o power since Saturday morning, but no problems beyond that. Thanks for the great work you continue to do at FOX.
I do have an additional question. Is the Fox News hat you were wearing while covering Frances available for sale? If so, let me know where so I can order one up.
[ed. note: Click here for FOX News Channel hats!!!]
Thanks for posting that letter. I copied it and sent it off as an email to people I know. Thanks for looking after my brother Dusty while you guys were there. That satellite phone your team carried was a Godsend. It gave me goosebumps to be able to hear Dusty's voice as if he was in the other room instead of thousands of miles away. He couldn't have been with a better field reporter. Also, thank you to the 3rd Light Armored Infantry for keeping Dusty safe, and help keeping America safe. I applaud their efforts and make it a point to shake any soldier/veteran's hand when I meet them. Your reports helped cement a positive image of our military in my mind.
Thank you again,
As a wife of a soldier in the 1st CAV and a supporter of what we are doing over in Iraq sometimes it is so hard to keep faith with what our military and country are trying to accomplish. We have to sift through all the negative reports to try to find something positive - we know it's there somewhere! Our spouses write us and tell of the amazing things they are doing over there and read of it in the Army's newspapers but the mainstream media often ignores it... that is such a disservice to our soldiers! Thanks again!
I'm a member of the 36th Infantry (TX Army National Guard). I thank you for your care and concern in reporting of and for the the soldiers and families of soldiers.
I watched FNC and CNN during OIF and the push. I've watched FNC for my news on Iraq and compared it to the other news channels. You guys were on the ball, direct, and relevant. Thank you.
Back to Major West's sitrep. I have heard from many people coming back (for instance, a SSG and SPC [father and son, both special forces] who I ran into at a bookstore, a WO2 in logistics [who told me to "keep your head down and don't be afraid to ask questions"], and several re-deploys from the 36th) who have told me much the same as what MAJ West reported.
The fact that you have put it out so plainly that all is not bad news is very much appreciated by those coming back and those going to their AO's. I plan on continuing to use www.foxnews.com to get my news while I'm in the sandbox. If I can... :)
Thanks again for your willingness to send complete and accurate spin-free news out.
Private Johann Medical Specialist