Covering Katrina

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This day — and our show — is unpredictable. Hurricane Katrina (search) consumes us all — wondering and worrying about the death toll. You can't have a Category 5 hurricane and no loss of life. We aren't that lucky.

Each time a hurricane hits, I do the same thing: I read every thing I can find about hurricanes so that I am ready to do my job. (I also wish I remembered more from the last time I studied them.) Hurricanes are a huge challenge for television networks since technical problems will — not might — occur. You can't expect any network to be problem free with 175 mph plus winds and tons of rain and flooding.

We also worry about our correspondents and crews on the ground covering hurricanes. Correspondents and crews want to get you the best shot so that you can be there and really understand what this hurricane is doing... but sometimes the best shot is very dangerous. We have to rely on their judgment to pull back when necessary. We have to hope that in their zeal to deliver the best to you, they don't go to far. No shot is worth loss of life and that is a real danger for correspondents and crews covering hurricanes (I hope their mothers don't read GretaWire.)

Here is an inside view: I confess, Joe Bastardi of Accuweather (search) is one of my favorite guests — especially on a Friday night when I am tired. While I regret the subject of his reports — hurricanes that cause death and enormous destruction — his reports make my job so easy. For instance on Friday night, I was pretty tired and I think by the end of the show there might have been a slurred word or two. When we got to the last segment — the one in which Joe was the guest — I just sat back and enjoyed his work. I knew he would take over completely and that I had no worries. I also knew that I would learn — and that I would get the right information. Joe is, in short, the best.

Joe is energetic (so he really grabs my attention as a viewer), he is smart (I learn from him each night), he has great maps (which are eye grabbing and help me understand weather better), he uses the entire time allotted (no need for me to ask even one question) AND he times out perfectly (he speaks until EXACTLY the time the segment ends.) Because he is a pro, I assume someone is giving him time cues and he adheres to them. I could perhaps just do the segment like this: "Joining us is Joe Bastardi... go!" Joe then takes over and completely and perfectly executes the segment. I do nothing but watch and enjoy! That makes for a near perfect ending on a Friday night. Now if only Joe could learn how to prevent hurricanes... then he would be perfect.

Now for some e-mails from you:

E-mail No. 1

I sympathize with Naurine re: her son's motorcycle accident (so glad you put it on your blog) re: being unable to say a last goodbye. That closure is definitely what Beth Twitty lacks — what an understatement — since it's clear there is no other ending to her sad story. My experience is similar to Naurine's. Since I did not get to say goodbye to my husband before we buried him at Arlington, I still dream he has returned from Viet Nam after all these years, that it was a huge mistake. I still look for him in crowds, and close up and personal in the similarly-configured face of our son. How can you say goodbye to a coffin?
At the time of my husband's death, I was angry that the Army sent his wedding ring back with his other personal effects. I wanted him to be buried wearing the ring. But time smoothes the rough. Now, I am grateful the Army sent back Jim's ring, because our son, Tony, wears it as his own wedding ring. Perhaps he will convey Jim's ring to his own son, Jamie (named for Jim, of course). I gave my band to Tony's wife.
One day, I will send you a copy of a poem from my book, "Optical Allusions." The poem's titled "Liturgy," and is about the loss. Reading it might shed more light on the feelings of those you nightly interview — those whose loved ones did not go gently into that good night. I won't send it to Beth Twitty, instead, I may write a new poem about Natalee, recalling her "lightness of being." Perhaps Beth would like that — down the road, when she can go home for good.

E-mail No. 2

Hi Greta,
I am writing to ask you a question about your land deal, let me know if I have it right... it is now two Frenchman, six Chinese, six Cats... Would there be a Smoking Chimp in there somewhere? I heard the chimp was closing the deal.
I enjoy reading your blog and watching the show... I do have a question about the Holloway case. If the girl is found, does the family have the say so on who does the autopsy, since she is an American. Can the FBI take that part over and fly her back to the States. Also, why haven't they searched the Van der Sloots' home. There is so much money being spent to find her, and she could be in their backyard. What makes them think she couldn't be? The father has lied, they need to bring him in as well for questioning, again. I have never heard of no you can't search my property.
Dianne Mitchell
Shreveport, LA

ANSWER: Yes, the smoking chimp is in on the deal. Now for the serious issue: If a body/remains are found in Aruba, then Aruba will do the autopsy... if it is procedurally like the U.S., defense experts may be present at that autopsy. After the autopsy, the remains are returned to the family and the family can have another autopsy done by its experts.

E-mail No. 3

You stop my life for ten years and still, why do you think you can have a life and I don't. I will leave this country if this is my life. I am not taking s__t from nobody anymore.

ANSWER: I don't "get" this e-mail.

E-mail No. 4 — Remember this e-mailer? He wrote in before... he is pathetic. Let me say again, I admire and respect the family of Natalee Holloway (search):

I really despise those people even if they lost their daughter. The mom is positioning herself for TV, movie, and book deals. She's a Class A b___h! So is "Jugie," the jug drinker. All the family on the mother's side are crummy (my opinion). And the PI's, the retired SS (sounds like a German) agent, and the retired FBI Agent, uncovered nothing. The mother's family are nothing but leaches in my opinion. Wait, I did the leaches a disservice. How about like hyenas? So far I have been 100 percent accurate. No physical evidence found by the elite Texas search team. Nothing found by the man and his dog. Nothing in the pond, landfill, tape and hair meant nothing, nothing found in the grave-like spot in the sand. No arm washing up, Had some so-called witnesses to fail the lie detector exam. Nothing to do with the shoe, belt, etc. They look like the Key Stone Cops to me. That's the people the mom brought in I'm talking about. Reporters get one piece, just one piece of information and they dwell on it for a couple of days. A five minute piece turns into two days. You sensationalize everything! Why so much news on her anyway? Because she's white, female, fairly wealthy, attractive in an ugly sort of way? She was getting drunk, underage, as were the rest of her friends.
Lewis Saintsing
Capt. Dets./Vice

E-mail No. 5 — This next e-mail is sort of funny. It is in response to my poll question asking whether you watch annoying anchors:

I don't watch your show either.
Corpus Christi

E-mail No. 6

Hi Greta,
Is it possible the Kalpoe brothers never went home and it was their mother on the Internet or someone else in the home on the Internet that night?

ANSWER: Norma, it is possible but I doubt it. I have spent time in their home and with their mother. She does not seem the least bit interested in computers and the Internet. She may even have told me that she does not go on the computer but I am not positive. I do know that she told me that Satish does not have interest. I know that Deepak is/was on the computer much. He is such an enthusiast that he works at an Internet cafe.

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