Congratulations Tampa Bay! You’re showing, as a region, how to handle an emergency situation with professionalism, intelligence, and a general sense of community.
Now here’s the bad part – because you’re doing everything right, nobody outside Florida (mostly) seems to give a flying crap! Well, aside from The Weather Channel, that is.
The worst of it appears to be over, thankfully. Much of the rain has gone away, and the main threat seems to be from local cresting rivers, mainly the Alafia to the south and the Anclote to the north of Tampa. Shelters and sandbag locations are up and running, and it appears that everyone is not only on their best behavior, but also working together to help their neighbors out in whatever way they can. This is a wonderful example of how Americans can be at their very best – courteous, helpful, brave, compassionate, and generally caring of one another. It’s a great testament to what our nation can do when faced with extraordinary odds.
The problem is simple – it doesn’t play into the news networks narratives. There are no references to Tampa Bay on either Fox, MSNBC, CNN or CNBC – at least none that I could find. Florida stations are covering this pretty well, but America is mostly in the dark about it. Only The Weather Channel mentioned Tampa Bay, and that’s only because weather disasters are their business. But there are no celebrities calling for help for Tampa Bay, no politicians screaming that this region is being overlooked and given the shaft by the government. There are no calls to action; in short, my adopted hometown is being given a lesson in Ayn Randian-politics. Long story short – you don’t produce anything we can use, so go the hell away.
To be quite honest, this is rather shameful, but it speaks to the state of the American media, both liberal and conservative. Nobody in the national media is innocent on this one. Other cities had telethons, crowdfunding pages, benefit concerts, Congressional hearings, reporters taking selfies, celebrities tweeting about how bad the people got it, and general sense of national heartbreak and outrage. What about Tampa Bay? The national attitude seems to be a general shrug and a “oh well.”
What’s so sad is that Tampa Bay has always, always been ready to pitch in when other cities and regions got slapped by Mother Nature. When Superstorm Sandy smashed in Staten Island, Tampa Bay had church groups, linemen, and scores of volunteers heading in to help. When Katrina hammered New Orleans, Tampa Bay welcomed refugees of the storm with open arms – many actually settled in the area permanently. When Hurricane Andrew clobbered Miami in 1992, the region put aside its civic rivalry, mounted up, and rode into the center of hell to assist. Here in Atlanta, linemen and utility crews from Florida helped out when the snow and ice battered us in 2014. It didn’t matter what the situation – Tampa Bay came to assist. Yes, other parts of America have sent in volunteers and workers to help in recovery efforts, but few have literally gone “all in” quite the way Tampa Bay has, with quite so little fanfare. In short, this region has really been one of the unsung heroes of recovery for many others across America.
And now, because there’s no race riots, class battles, political points to be scored – only compassion and human dignity – Tampa Bay is ignored by America’s news media, and many people in general as a result.
I will do what I can with what limited resources I have, including this blog, my Facebook page, and Twitter feed to help my brethren in Tampa Bay. If you, or someone you know, can help out, please check the local news stations and newspapers. The Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, 10News, Newschannel 8, Fox 13, ABC Action News and Bay News 9 have lists of shelters and charitable groups which can, no doubt, use assistance. This transplant expresses his gratitude – Tampa Bay has done so much to help us all over the years.
Please, it’s time to for America to return the favor.