Video: Opinion Poll
E-mail Rick

Nov. 11, 2005

The latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll found 98% of Americans agree veterans of the Iraq war deserve our respect for serving their country. That’s pretty amazing, although I’m still wondering why one percent says they don't.

Overall, the numbers show people are very divided about the progress of the war, who's winning, and whether it's worth the money, effort, and lives lost.

I’m just glad people seem to understand the difference between supporting a war and supporting the people risking everything to defend our freedom.

One of the things that impressed me most about the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines I met during ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere is that they never complained about protestors at home. While some privately admitted it didn't exactly warm their hearts, they all told me they were proud to defend the freedoms that protestors were exercising.

Imagine that. You’re fighting in the desert in part to protect the rights of people back home to shout and carry signs and demonstrate against you fighting in the desert.

The men and women in our armed forces are protecting all of our rights, and our cherished way of life, on a daily basis.

For that we should all be grateful, and it appears at least 98% of us are.

To all of you serving in our military, and to all of your families, I say happy Veterans Day, and thank you.

Nov. 8, 2005

Tornados are deadly and dangerously random. The F-3 that touched down Sunday in southwestern Indiana shredded more than 100 trailer homes in a single park, but left more than a hundred others untouched.

From the highway, the view is even more staggering than it is from the park's entrance. There are entire streets of pristine single- and double-wides with cars in the driveway, play sets in the backyard and flowers in planters on the front porch. Then, steps away, bits and pieces of siding, wallboard and insulation — complete devastation.

None of the victims in the Eastbrook Mobile Home Park died in structures left intact by the fast-moving storm. All of the dead were found in wreckage, under debris, or in the waters of a small pond nearby.

There were warnings. Two high-pitched sirens sounded ten minutes before the 150-200 mph winds that arrived at 2 a.m. in the morning. I asked the local fire chief and sheriff what people were supposed to do to save themselves in that situation.

They both struggled for answers. Trailer parks are dangerous places to be in a tornado. On the one hand people should get out, but on the other, they shouldn't be driving either.

The answer the fire chief and sheriff gave, and what was echoed later by a county emergency operations official, is as simple as it is unlikely to be heeded — especially when the wind is howling, the rain is pounding, stuff is flying and the world is turning sideways at Nascar speeds:

Get out of your trailer and lie face down in a ditch. If there's no ditch, just get down on the wet, cold ground and stay there till the twister is gone.

I asked the emergency operations chief how many people actually follow that advice.

"Maybe two percent" he said, shaking his head.

Many of the victims of this storm were sleeping and didn't hear the warning sirens, but if you heard them, what would you do?

Nov. 6, 2005

Sunday afternoon and I'm at my sister's house in Jericho, Long Island, for her daughter Jordan's third birthday party.

My fiancé is with me, my parents, my brother-in-law's parents, his brothers and friends — and little kids are there. The Jets are playing the Chargers on the big screen and there's pizza and cake in the kitchen and it's a beautiful day.

My blackberry vibrates. It's Refet, my bureau chief.

"Want to chase tornados in Indiana?" I don't but I do. I want to watch football and play with my niece and go home with my girl and do the stuff we need to do, but there's breaking news and I want to cover that too. The twister was bad. A lot of deaths, injuries, and destruction and searches for survivors. I have to make a decision.

"Who am I going with?" I ask.

"I don't know yet. You're the first one I called."

"When do I need to be there?"

"Tonight. Live shots begin tomorrow morning."

I know what that means. Drive back to the city and pack, get to the airport and take two planes, get in late and rent a car, go to a hotel and check in, unpack and get three hours sleep, get up before dawn to be in position for “FOX & Friends.”

I also know people are suffering and some have lost everything. Maybe I can't really help them, but I can tell their story and maybe in some way that will speed relief or give them some satisfaction that people actually care.

I sigh and I look at my beautiful bride-to-be and my family and listen to the sounds of this Sunday afternoon. I know I could say no, but I also know I don't really want to and they'll understand. This is what I do.

I hang up with Refet, tell my girl I have to go to Indiana, and call our 24-hour Travel Hotline for the latest flight to Evansville.

E-mail Rick


Thank you for taking the time to report about the devastation here in Indiana. This storm was every bit as traumatic to Hoosiers as the Hurricanes were to those in the south. I lost a home to a fire once and know what it is like to lose everything in one evening. My heart aches for all of them!

Thanks for your first-class reporting. You are truly appreciated.

Barbara
Washington, IN
(50 miles north of Evansville)


Rick:

Great job covering the tragic tornado in our fine city. I hope (although such tragedy existed) everyone in Evansville, Newburgh and the surrounding area showed you our true “southern hospitality.” We invite you back to our fine city anytime you wish!

Caren
Evansville, Indiana

Rick,

Thanks for coming to cover this terrible story. I live about 20 miles from where it hit. We were up watching the news so I called my neighbor to make sure she was up. You hate to wake someone in the night if turns out to be nothing BUT everyone should, just in case. I wonder if the little boy they found in a ditch actually put himself there? Many people tried to flee the storm but didn't have time.

Considering the loss of life every year due to tornadoes hitting trailer parks, why don't they require them to provide a storm shelter. Also the fire departments provide smoke detectors to people who can't afford them, someone could provide National Weather service radios to people in trailers so that it goes off when they issue a warning. They cost $30. It would have given these people 15 minutes to get out. Just a thought, but it could save lives.

K.S.
Kentucky


Rick,

As a fellow Hoosier now living in Tennessee, I know Evansville very well. Those wonderful people lost everything they had, some their very lives. Thank you for being the kind of person you are to drop your life and go to give some peace and hope to some that need their story told. God Bless You and your understanding family and FOX News for their coverage and for having you as a correspondent.

Jean
Gallatin, TN

Rick,

What you do is very important. The sacrifices you make are much appreciated by all of us who depend on you and the others at FOX to keep us in touch with all that's happening in the world. I am also glad that you do this blog. It helps us to understand what it takes to bring the stories to us and not to take what you do for granted.

I live in the midwest and was shocked by the news of the awful tornado. Our tornado season is usually over with by early summer. We kind of expect that a warning might go off so we are more likely to be awakened by one; but this late in the year? It's almost unheard of. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Kentucky and Indiana.

Thanks for all that you do and sacrifice to keep me informed.

Cheri
Lansing, MI


Rick,

It is tough choosing your job over your family. My husband does it often, but not because he chooses to do so. He is an Army blackhawk test pilot and is away much more than he is home. I hate to see you pulled away from your family on such a sweet occasion, but your faithful viewers are happy to see you reporting. You bring a sense of "realness" that not many are able to bring forth.

Joanna


Keep it up, sir. You’re still doing it right.

Travis
Birmingham, AL