Helpless agony of covering ‘The Big One’ – Chico Enterprise-Record

I will never forget the morning I spent trapped on Twitter, as the county tried to make sense of the nightmarish cloud and hell-sent smoke that had appeared. I will never forget the moment when, on my way to Chico State for The Orion, I turned the scanner on and abruptly realized it was time to turn around.

I headed for the Skyway and called my co-producer at The Orion and our news team, when suddenly it hit that The Big One was happening, that at that very moment people were fighting for their lives.

By noon, Chico State still had said nothing. All we had were frantic 911 calls and the police scanner, and we had to hurry to get press passes approved to join the “big kids” and cover what was really happening.

By the end of the night, we had frantically made video after video, trying to stay as consistent on Twitter as possible. I had talked my co-producer out of continuing our drive up the ridge into Paradise at 4 p.m. as flames grew and darkness came. By 3 a.m. my father had been talked out of evacuating Chico despite the frantic rumors spreading on Facebook that the city would be in flames by morning.

I will never forget the helpless agony of watching fleet after fleet of ambulances on the Skyway, wondering who was in them and praying that nobody I knew was still up there in the dark flames. The shelters, already overflowing with people by evening, that we searched. And the deep pain inside that, as much as a student journalist who’s covered breaking news for years waits for The Big One to come, you could never be prepared for the apocalyptic reality of such a disaster. When all you can hear in your head is the sobbing and whispers from shelters, and the screams and pleas from videos already going viral on every channel, it’s hard to focus on Twitter coverage and taking the photos that count. Yet somehow we persisted, and we have made it here, a year later.

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