Reporter's Notebook: Waiting for Wilma

Jeff Goldblatt

Thursday, October 20:

Sleeping bag. Check. Rain gear. Check. Flashlight. Forgot it. @#$%!!! Looks like I'll be picking one up in Ft. Myers. Same with my photographer. He usually packs three flashlights, or so he tells me. Left them at home along with ALL of his clothes. At least he has a plausible explanation. Tom is a first-time father. This is his first out-of-town trip since the birth of his daughter two weeks ago.

Speaking of babies...@#$%!!! Just realized I forgot another essential: baby wipes. Those dainty sheets of soft material go a long way when a water system is knocked off-line and you're sorely in need of a shower.

After covering three hurricanes this summer (Dennis, Katrina, Rita), and many more over the years, you'd think I'd have the knack of packing for these trying and, some might argue, maddening journalistic adventures. The flashlight forgetfulness shines a light on reality.

Wilma is a frightening beast. It's foolish to think that just because we flirt with Mother Nature's fury, that we don't weigh the dangers of these storms. Preparation is the key: mentally, physically and logistically.

In my book (not that I have any intention of writing one), logistics take top priority: A sheltered hotel, an experienced and technically savvy crew, a capable and sound-minded satellite truck operator. They are all of utmost importance in the fight to keep you on the air. If a car is missing a key part, it won't run. Same goes in my business — more so during a hurricane when a string of sleepless nights is as inevitable as the meals of tuna fish, beef jerky, and chips of all varieties.