Well, it wasn’t exactly the most normal week for me. And certainly not a normal Valentine’s Day.
I spent the last few days in Mobile, Ala., covering the problems surrounding the Carnival Triumph’s disaster at sea. I even went on the BBC live on Thursday night as the ship docked (which was pretty awesome/nerve wrecking).
On Tuesday night, my editors in South Florida decided to dispatch me to Mobile since it was only a few hours from Tallahassee. So, I dutifully set off across I-1o and the reporting adrenaline got me going once I arrived.
It is difficult for me to even describe the mad house that Mobile was for the past few days.
There were television cameras everywhere you turned. CNN alone had several crews, plus people on a helicopter and boat. (My PSU friend Sara was also there!)
Thursday morning all the action started. The city and Carnival began holding briefings every few hours about the ship’s arrival times and any problems they were encountering. Parents, children and siblings of the passengers were milling about. They were even attending the press conferences in hopes of getting more information.
I shot video of an upset parent who came to pick up his daughter and took photos of a mom talking to her daughter who was on the ship. I listened to several upset relatives who just wanted the ship to be in port, so they could take their loved ones home.
When passengers finally got off the boat, the vast majority went straight to the buses that were transporting them to New Orleans or Galveston. They were able to bypass the media completely (and even though I’m a reporter, I don’t think I would have wanted to talk to the media after. I’d be going straight to a shower/meal. ) Though, some passengers did opt to come out and talk about their experiences on board the boat.
When the boat did come into port, you could hear the passengers cheering, some even singing Sweet Home Alabama.
Unfortunately for them, many didn’t have warm clothes, so to add salt to the wound, they were freezing when they pulled into Mobile. It was probably in the high 40s, maybe 50 when they were finally leaving the ship.
I stayed until about 12:30 a.m. central time and then headed back to the hotel to file an update to my story. I have to admit I felt a little guilty going back to the hotel when some of the passengers weren’t even off the ship yet after a hellish few days.
But, it was also nice to see some passengers relaxing at my hotel the next morning. For the most part, many of them seemed to be putting the best face possible on the situation and they were just happy to be off the boat.