The desert really does flood!
When I worked for KPHO-TV in Phoenix, Arizona…I never knew what story I might be covering on a day-to-day basis. It could be anywhere in Arizona, Mexico, California, or even across the US. We were the flagship station for Meredith Corporation and you never know where the story would take us.
I remember it vividly. I worked Sunday to Thursday…so the page would come at 10am Sunday morning preparing me for my 2:30 – 11pm shift. At that time, we communicated using alpha numeric two-way pagers and mobile phones. As I would wake up to the bright Arizona sun, the pager would hum across the bedside table bearing my assignment for the day or even for the week.
It was required for me to keep a week’s worth of clothes in my full size blazer along with enough video tape, cable, and water to cover the story. I have been in an FBI standoff in the middle of the Arizona desert heat that reached 120 degrees. Dehydration was a reality. As photojournalists based out of Phoenix, we were also required to be trained by Phoenix Fire Department…how to cover stories in the heat, wildfire blazes, and structure fires. Covering stories was more than collecting sound bites and broll, edit, then put up the dish and get on air by 5pm…it was about understanding and adapting to our environments. It was about making the most of what we had and finding ways to work smart and efficient to collect, complete, and distribute compelling stories effectively and efficiently.
This hot morning, the buzzing pager gives me the message…heading to western Arizona to find a town underwater. Not sure when I will return. Hmm…I am in the middle of the freaking desert. A town under water? Is the assignment desk speaking in tongues or are they playing CYA since we have burned all of our helicopter hours for the month and they want to know if what the scanners are saying are true.
Out of the shower (better take one since this sounds like I might not get one for a few days), grab the camera and batteries, and off to Wenden, Arizona. When I get there…this what I found. Needless to say, I was out there for four days, slept in the Blazer and captured and produced dozens of stories of destruction and loss. I worked closely with a great writer and reporter Laurie Raymond.
So many stories, so many visuals, so many lives changed…including mine. I never thought I would see a desert town underwater.