1. Archive

Blown Away

Editor's note: The Junior Journalist Club is a partnership between the Citrus edition of the St. Petersburg Times and the Citrus County School District to encourage writing. These essays were the winning eighth-grade entries.

Blown Away

Our beautiful, "sunny" state was hammered by a record four hurricanes this year. In an effort to keep Florida's residents safe and informed, news stations from Pensacola to Fort Myers sent reporters and their camera crews out to deliver live action news from ground zero as these monster storms crawled ashore. As a result, one brave young reporter almost lost his life. Is broadcasting live outdoors in the midst of a lethal storm a good idea?

Not in my opinion, especially since there are other options available. First of all, no one should be outside in weather conditions that turn even everyday objects into deadly projectiles. I remember watching a drenched reporter screaming into his microphone while Hurricane Frances' fearsome winds rampaged through St. Lucie County. The gentleman's poncho whipped every which way as rain propelled almost horizontally at him.

"Yeah, it's lookin' REAL nasty here!" he shouted into the camera. Suddenly, a giant palm tree flew out of nowhere, crashing to the ground _ grazing him as it fell with a thunderous boom! It was obvious he understood the gravity of the situation by the petrified look in his eyes. Had the tree struck him, he might not have survived the impact.

Having an eyewitness account of a hurricane simply isn't worth the high cost of a human life. Furthermore, with the advanced technology available, reporters and their crews aren't required to record such weather conditions. A remote-controlled camera can and should be utilized to videotape the storm's chaos.

Reporting the story from a safe location, and covering the track of the storm as the remote pictures are fed into the newsroom, seems like a viable option to me. Hurricanes are definitely serious; visualizing the storm through the eye of a remote camera is the prudent way to witness the live effects of a monstrous storm.

Ultimately, sending reporters into harm's way during a hurricane is extremely treacherous. We can gain a better understanding of these frightening storms by means of remote-controlled cameras. In fact, Gov. Jeb Bush agrees and pleaded to the news stations to use caution and resist sending their crews into the path of danger. The risks associated with these hurricanes are immense. Consequently, we should all respect their tremendous power _ including the news media!

_ Heather Foster, Citrus Springs Middle School

Positives From the Pain

This latest hurricane has reshaped our community in a positive way. It has brought people together who would have never come to know each other but for the storm. We've become more appreciative for what we have. Most importantly, we have all learned to become better prepared for emergencies.

First, people in our community have banded in an amazing way. Neighbors whom we have just said hello to were becoming our close friends. We have seen how generous our neighbors could be. Many offered food and ice even though they had little themselves.

Neighbors sacrificed by lending out their generators. People gathered in the streets to compare their hurricane experiences.

Besides bringing people together, the hurricane made us more appreciative of what we have. We've realized how much we have taken our modern conveniences for granted. I can still remember the excited feeling I had when the Progress Energy workers arrived on our street. Everyone came outside and cheered for them, yelling, "Thank you." We all had a renewed appreciation for these hardworking people.

Lastly, we realized how important it was to be prepared. Many believed the hurricane wouldn't hit us but now we realize it can. Now people are more cautious about these terrible storms. We've learned the importance of being prepared and not waiting till the last minute to buy our needed supplies. People learned to plan for evacuation and make sure they had safe places for their pets.

In conclusion, this latest hurricane has changed our community in many ways. I have chosen to focus on the positive. People have bonded and become more appreciative. It is best to prepare early when a hurricane is expected to hit. I feel the storm has brought out the best in people. We can be proud of our community.

_ Donna Shaffer, Inverness Middle School