Editor's Note: After several days in Mexico reporting on Hurricane Dean, Maggie Lineback and crew are headed back to their respective headquarters. Below is a summary of her three-day coverage in Tampico.
Wednesday, August 22
Hurricane Dean made land for a second time a few hours south of where our crew was waiting. In one of life's strange coincidences, it hit a little town called Tecolutla, a place I visited a few years ago to help produce a documentary. It's a sleepy little beach town that comes to life with visitors who make the six-hour trek from Mexico City. It's also home to "Papa Tortuga."
As a young man, Fernando Manzano saw a Jaques Cousteau documentary on sea turtles. He had seen some nests on his Tecolutla's beaches and decided to protect them. The first year, he found only three nests. Three decades later, he watches over 300, using the simplest of methods and relying on donations from friends and souvenir sales on the beach. Manzano has local school children release the baby turtles back into the sea, so now most of the young people in the area have a real connection to them. As a result, poaching is almost non-existent.
We called Manzano. He couldn't talk but he and his family are fine. I hope the town fared as well.
As for the "Dean Team," the crew which covered Dean from Tampico, we are all headed home, some to Texas, the others back to New York. Who knows when we will see each other again on another big story.
We took a group photo on the beach for posterity.
Tuesday, August 21
TAMPICO, Mexico — One of my co-workers said he has gotten sunburned covering hurricanes. Today I know why. We are in Tampico at the northern edge of the "cone of uncertainty," where Hurricane Dean, now weakened, may decide to land. If you saw any of our live shots today, you'll know it's sunny and beautiful here, if hot.
It's amazing you saw our liveshots at all. Normally when we do them, we have a big satellite truck parked nearby. For these, we have a "streambox," a packable satellite dish that connects to a computer and a camera. It's tricky technology though and today it's temperamental. It seems like everything is set and then, a minute from a live shot, it's on the fritz. It makes for an interesting day.
I went back to my hotel room late after our last live shot and looked in the mirror. I am fried.
Monday, August 20
TAMPICO, Mexico — We arrived at the airport in Tampico with all of our gear. It’s safe to say, we don't pack lightly. We have boxes and boxes of "penguin" cases — tough, black, waterproof cases that keep all of our gear safe and dry.
As we wait to clear customs, there's a group of men in brightly colored yellow uniforms, in their 20s and 30s, who stream into the airport. A guy at customs tells us that they work on the oil rigs out in the Gulf. Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico's state-owned, nationalized petroleum company, has been evacuating employees in anticipation of the storm. We just received an e-mail from meteorologist Rick Reichmuth, that says Dean is now a Category 5 hurricane.
An hour passes. We're waiting for the other half of our crew to arrive. We pass the time by talking to people nearby. They say they are not too worried about the hurricane. No one is talking about leaving — maybe at most they might get some extra water and canned food.
It is a local legend that UFOs protect Tampico from hurricanes. The area hasn't had a serious one in decades. The story goes that the aliens have their base in the sea, just off the coast, and by protecting their base from hurricanes, they are also protecting Tampico. Fishermen have apparently seen things when they're out at night, things they claim might be the UFOs. For the city's sake, and ours, I hope the UFOs are up there, hovering over us.
Maggie Lineback is a Dallas bureau producer.