Rhetorical Hurricane Question


Well-known member
I'm a freelancer and don't do hurricanes anymore. That said here's the questions;

Why do we go into a dangerous situation for the same day rate while soldiers, oil rig workers, etc. get hazard pay?

Why do we destroy our personal gear, cameras, etc. while the network gets off free and clear and our insurance rates go up?

And my favorite - why do we let some newby producer in an air conditioned building in New York who's closest contact to weather was a rainstorm when they exited the subway order us around during one of the most dangerous natural phenomenons on the planet?


Well-known member
Lens in my hand...

... toes in the sand. I do it because I can right now. There will be a time when I change my mind, or my body forces the issue. I have the relative luxury of doing all this with someone else's gear.

Some people's day is ruined when the fax machine goes down.

Tv Shooter

Well-known member
I cover a lot of hurricanes and the answer to that is quite simple: the majority of storms really aren't that bad in relation to the amount of money I can make.

I've covered about 18-20 hurricanes in the last 5 years. The only equipment damage actually happened this past week in new orleans-the producer threw open my van door into the wind and it bent the door. It's a 1995 van....and the money I made covers that and more. It was about $400 to get the door fixed.

Never lost a camera, microphone or hmi ballast. If you take care of the gear, it'll pull through. If I think it's really going to get torn up, I just say "I'm not doing that, because it'll destroy my gear and then YOU won't have a live shot". They usually agree that it's time to look for another way.

As for "hazard pay"...you have much more chance of getting killed driving to the storm, and driving home than in the storm itself. Hell, give me hazard pay for working around half ass construction workers (Flip shows and home improvement shows) and you can have the hazard pay on a storm.

Had the NYC Syndrome happening this past weekend in New Orleans....some 20ish producer didn't like my shot. I then panned over to show the available shots, which were other media in the same location... and she asked could we move to a new location. I said sure, as long as you aren't using us for a couple of hours....40 minutes to strike, 45 to move and 45 to set up.

Suddenly the shot looked a lot better.

I am on for Ike, as soon as it gets within a couple hundred miles. hurricanes provide an enormous amount of overtime, and other billable expenses. I cover my gear, and if I really feel it's THAT dangerous, we move. I have an agreement with all the networks I work for....if I'm not feeling safe, I'm gone. It's happened a couple times and there's never been an issue with it. I think the producer I was working with during the last time I felt that way was actually really happy I took the lead on that-she was afraid to tell the desk we needed to move. We would have been trapped had we stayed there.

Ultimately you have to take control...and be willing to walk away if it's a choice of life or gig. While it pays well, it doesn't pay THAT well.


Active member
The observation that the majority of hurricanes “aren't that bad” is analogous to the idea that if I repeatedly stuck my penis in a beehive, it might not be stung. Sooner or later, it's gonna happen.

The Wall Street Journal sent Daniel Pearl to Pakistan to cover Al Qaeda, ostensibly to report on news important to the public but also to make the board of directors / shareholders of WSJ a lot of money. Danger sells newspapers.

The WSJ sent this guy to Pakistan. the most dangerous country on the face of the planet. The U.S. government had warned everyone away.

He goes to Pakistan and gets his head cut off.

Now I'm sure the editors were sorry and all that but they should have been tried for manslaughter - or tried for stupidity - and shipped to jail. How dumb can a group of grown men be? You hire a stringer or a journalist from Pakistan, someone who has contacts and trust and can speak the language and blend in. Not someone who looks like Snow White in a burka.

So to answer your question, your NDs are happy to send someone in harm's way. So long as it isn't them. They're in their air conditioned office, dry, and hitting on the intern. And thinking "What a great business this is!"

As to why anyone would risk their lives for tooth-fairy overtime, that's a head-scratcher. I guess any money is good money.
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Dan R.

Well-known member
Not all hurricanes are created equal. Up to a Category 2 or even a 3 is a relative walk in the park. 4 or 5 is another story. In a 4 or higher, you are most likely going to lose and/or significantly damage something (all or part of your vehicle, camera, laptop, etc). Something to consider when pondering an offer to cover a storm. I have never been asked to cover a Category 4 or 5 (at landfall), but if I ever did, I would expect enough to cover all or a big part of my potential losses. Either that or have the client provide everything. In fact I don't think I would take any of my own possessions into a storm like that let alone my car and gear.


Active member
If you repeatedly put yourself in the danger zone of a hurricane, it will not be the expected that gets you. It will be the unexpected. Something you didn't count on. Your very experience will blind you to the hazards.

It may be an invisible toxin released in the environment. It may be a cut that becomes infected. It may be a bio-hazard inhaled through the air.

I saw a guy after he stepped on a power line downed in a storm. It's actually ok to put your foot on a live wire. Won't hurt you. Until your other foot touches the ground, creating a short circuit.

That current arced through his leg, through his groin, and down his other leg. Sheets of steam were pouring off his dead body. And all from a little wire he didn't see.

You've had your fun. Let someone else take the risk. Get one of those silly producers out there. See how they like it. Let them walk ahead of you. To clear the path.


Well-known member
Anybody remember Kevin's Lost Truck adventure during hurricane Dennis?

The NBC affiliate in my home town once lost a satellite truck in the Gulf of Mexico when the storm surge washed it away.

Chicago Dog

Well-known member
Not all hurricanes are created equal. Up to a Category 2 or even a 3 is a relative walk in the park.
Actually, Hurricane Charlie was a category 3 at landfall. The winds were strong enough to rip trees apart. You don't want to know a tree's flying through the air the hard way.

Once you hear the trunk snapping in half, your fate's in Mom Nature's hands. That's not very reassuring when you can't see anything more than ten feet away.