It’s all over but the waiting for Hurricane Irma. After the hustle of preparation, there is nothing to do but wait for the hurricane to hit Central Florida. We are now experiencing the outer bands dropping rain in the Orlando area as the hurricane makes a second landfall near Naples in southwest Florida.
Which has left me thinking, a hurricane is a lot like a political campaign – a hive of activity right before the main event, similar to campaign mode, followed by the quiet of the hurricane itself, akin to election day when there’s nothing more to do but wait till all blows over.
There are other political parallels, particularly in dress. Have you noticed there’s a uniform look that goes with the theater of hurricane watch and preparation, much as there is a campaign look, one that is not too distracting and states, “Look at me. I’m taking care of business.” And not too delicately, “Vote for me!”
Hurricane Irma Uniform
Gov. Rick Scott likes to sport a baseball cap with “NAVY” written across the top (he is a Navy veteran) while surrounding himself with what appear to be a bevy of National Guard officials in full uniform, which makes me wonder, don’t they have something more urgent to do? But, of course, they are lending “urgency” to the press conference itself.
Other elected officials wear polo shirts with emergency management or state/local government insignia. Sometimes the hurricane costume involves a bomber jacket of sorts. President George W. Bush preferred this look.
When President Donald Trump visited Texas twice, he wore a uniform of khaki pants and white polo shirt and loose navy jacket, his man-of-the-people look. Thankfully, his cap didn’t say MAGA but “USA.”
Folks criticized Melania Trump‘s six-inch heels, although she wore them on her way to Air Force One, not in Texas. A change of hurricane wardrobe involved white Adidas sneakers and a baseball cap stating “FLOTUS.” On the second visit, another cap read “TEXAS.”
And, to be fair, all presidents and first families do this.
TV reporters have a disaster look of their own: baseball caps and jackets with their station’s logo. And they do silly things like stand in the wind as it tosses them about and is about to blow them away. Or stand in floodwaters, marveling, “Look how deep the water is!”
When I lived in Nevada, it became a joke to guess which newbie reporter would land the plum assignment of standing in the middle of the season’s first snowstorm in Truckee, Calif., to earn their reporter street cred. Frozen before there was “Frozen.”
Meteorologists do their own thing, taking off their jackets but never the tie. This is a roll-up-your-sleeves moment. Working hard here! I get it; broadcast is visual.
Read But Not Seen
Print reporters are not seen but read, although this, too, is changing, with videos and audio reporting. Still, they are not nearly as visible. But every newsroom – print and broadcast – is jolted with energy during disasters or crises.
Reporters, editors, news producers and others are working very long, almost non-stop hours, under stressful conditions. They don’t see their families and eat mountains of junk food to stay energized. Elected officials and administrators do too.
Because woe to the governor, county mayor or mayor who doesn’t make a show of protecting and keeping their constituents safe or, at the very least, empathize as people lose their homes and, possibly, everything they own.
So, go ahead. Show concern and empathy. Wear the hurricane uniform. If not, you can expect to get hammered, and rightly so, as soon as everyone is high and dry.
˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor