Jumping in and out of bed #twinslife #hurricane

What makes you jump out of bed, super fast? I can list a few things, well lots of things. But what really gets your attention, more than just hitting the snooze button. What makes you feel like there is a complete state of emergency, making you jump up so fast the sheets are still attached?

I was once a storm chaser. Yep, not really by profession but by proxy. I was a photojournalist who worked for televisions stations across the country. During the time period I worked in television, there was a huge commitment to covering weather. We would chase a small, drizzle rain storm in the hopes to make it seem like a hurricane was hitting.

Yes, when we would walk into work each day, we were asked who captured the best weather video. This had nothing to do with beautiful skies, pretty sun sets, happy weather outside…they (those pesky producers – who by-the-way were getting fussed at to create monster ratings), our beloved producers, would demand death and destruction outside. That drizzle better look like a monsoon had hit and the storm drains were overloaded with water.

WEATHER VIDEO…it is still a focus on televisions…I giggle each time I turn on the Weather Channel.

I have chased many hurricanes along the eastern coast, along the gulf coast, and even the pacific coast in a few cases. I have stood outside with my camera during 100 mph winds, crap flying all around, tornados coming through, waist deep in water, and the list keeps on going.

I remember the time in 2004 while chasing what was left of Hurricane Ivan after came up from the gulf coast into the Carolinas. I was outside of a small town called Hickory, NC when Ivan unleashed a bunch of tornados. While driving up HWY 321 in a large microwave truck, a tornado jump over me.

YES…I looked out the passenger side window, noticed the trees parting, saw the funnel, felt the truck sway back and forth while driving 55 mph (probably faster) and then saw the trees part as I look out the driver’s side window. Yes…I felt my life pass before me and wondered if I was driving into purgatory waiting for the pearly gates.

WHY…WHY…WHY…because it was fun.

My last time chasing a storm was Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I worked for WCNC-TV in Charlotte who was owned and operated by a company called Belo Corporation. Belo owned numerous televisions stations across the country along with newspapers including The Dallas Morning News.

One of the stations Belo owned was WWL-TV in New Orleans, LA. Katrina was on a path to make a direct hit on New Orleans, so we were sent from Charlotte to Houston. We flew over the storm as it was making landfall, landed in Houston, picked up rental cars, and headed to Baton Rouge. Belo had moved everyone from WWL-TV to the journalism school of LSU to broadcast 24 hours a day during the storm. WWL-TV was the only station to stay on the air through out the storm because it invested millions of dollars to have it’s transmitter raised over 20 feet to withstand the storm surge.

We were sent to help WWL-TV not only stay on air, but to make sure the people of Louisiana still received up-to-date information about the storm and surrounding area conditions. We would travel as far as a tank of gas to any town outside of New Orleans to capture imagery of the storm, interview local officials, then bring the video tape back to air RAW (yes RAW) on the air. We would literally pull into the j-school at LSU, walk the tape directly into the newsroom, and they would pop it into the video player and play it raw for everyone to watch and listen. 

The raw emotion was unbelievable, the devastation of both physical assets and also of people’s souls. The National Guard, FEMA, and state officials would stand waiting to watch the most recent tape walk into the j-school and play live for them to take notes and put a plan together.

Chasing storms was a part of my life, a life that I thought I left behind. But it still surrounds me each day. There is one thing that will make me jump out of bed, it is the sound of a thunderstorm. I cannot sleep during storms as they pass through Anderson, SC. I walk the halls making sure the house is ok, making sure the family is ok, anticipating the worst thing that can happen.

Another thing that makes me jump out of bed…the sounds of two little boys crying. Yes, that video monitor is very sensitive and can pick-up anything in their room. Each night during this time period is like going to bed knowing a storm is passing through. This infant stage has taken me back to my journalism days of storm chasing, light sleeping anticipating them to cry for the next bottle.

As we get closer and closer to the gestational period we can start sleep training is like getting closer to the period when the storm is passing. Little Henry can sleep longer and his little storm in the middle of the night is like a Category 2 or 3. But, George…oh little George…his middle of the night demands for a bottle are like a Category 5 hitting full force.

There is no middle ground…it is sleeping soundly then…OH THEN…BOOM…175mph winds blasting the walls of our room at 3:30am. 

It will make you jump out the bed so fast, your feet get tangled in the sheets racing to the twins bedroom hoping little George does not wake Henry. You would think I was running through the house full sprint with my camera trying to get the best shot. I am actually racing through the house, making a bottle, waiting for the diaper change from Sarah, grabbing a burp cloth, and off to the recliner to pop his little mouth with a not so tasty, nasty smelling, stomach filling, Allimentum formula bottle. No offense Similac, I hate this stuff…it smells like potatoes. Yes, my Nana has named George “tater” because of the smell. I truly believe that since this formula is pre-digested, George cannot sleep longer than 3.5 hours. His tummy is going empty faster.

What makes you jump out of bed? How fast can you jump out of bed? Can jump out of bed, race to make a bottle, feed a little one, and still be in a sleep stupor enough to fall back to sleep after the task is complete. Not me, I have not mastered that tall feet. Sarah can do it…she can sleep on demand. I still stay awake, trying to calm myself down as I anticipate the next storm.

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