In our area, our sweet little piece of Alabama, last week served as a tough lesson in weather awareness, strength and fortitude.
We checked weather apps constantly, reached out to our fellow neighbors who might not use technology and watched local newscasters predict the weather ahead of a super storm cell that was headed in our direction.
For most, the anxiety levels were off the charts as memories of March 3, 2019, reverberated around in our minds — fear grabbing on tightly and focusing on a danger that was all too known and would never be forgotten.
I did not personally live through those life-changing tornadoes, but I was present shortly afterwards for the weeks and months of emotional and grief support needed for those directly affected by the storm. Because of this, and because of what I personally witnessed, storms will always take on an entirely new meaning for me.
To be fair, bad weather has always unnerved me, and like many others, I have worked on developing coping skills to help ease my growing anxiety at the first sign of “bad weather.” But now, I have to work extra hard due to the images and stories that are emblazoned in my memory.
Because of that experience, countless amounts of people now find themselves transfixed in front of newsfeeds, listening intently to trusted weather forecasters in the hopes that they will provide comfort in their preparedness and in their support.
Last week was no exception, and as a counselor, I could feel the rising anticipation of the approaching storm and the fear it was creating in the people I spoke with daily. Trying to tell them, “Don’t worry” or “It’s going to be OK” was not something I spoke of to them because I know that those words would not provide comfort and would probably fall upon deaf ears. Due to their experience, nothing was going to ease their growing trepidation, and relief would only be found after the storm had passed.
I, for one, am thankful for the “live” interactions with area newscasters. They showed incredible professionalism as they brought us coverage, and they stood alongside us every step of the way in order to make sure that everyone was as safe as possible.
And yet, shockingly, there were individuals who used belligerent language and attacking comments at these people who were doing their job because (1) the storm was not as serious as they predicted it to be and (2) the storm coverage was interrupting their NFL playoff game.
The verbal assaults were so hateful that the TV station felt the need to issue an apology for “not getting it right.” The fact that three people died in our state went to the wayside in the minds of many when it became apparent that the danger was over, and it was no longer convenient to them to have it interrupt their programming.
I guess I cannot fault these individuals because I am almost certain that the ones upset by the coverage did not actually experience the trauma of being in their homes when those terrifying tornadoes ripped through their neighborhood. Just as I am certain that the ones who did live through it were incredibly thankful for every update and bit of information provided.
True, newscasters do not always “get it right,” but their dedication to saving lives and keeping us “weather aware” is greatly appreciated.
Thank you news coverage teams. No apologies are needed for me. Your service is something that tends to be overlooked at times like these, but not here. Nope. Here there are just unlimited amounts of people filled with gratitude that together you stood alongside them through the storms.
Jenny Filush-Glaze is a licensed counselor and owner of Serenity Community Counseling LLC. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.