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Reporter's Diary: Living, Breathing, Covering Super Storm Sandy

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Hurricane Sandy flooded the boardwalk in Ocean City, Md.
Bryan Russo
Hurricane Sandy flooded the boardwalk in Ocean City, Md.

Have you ever watched those guys on the Weather Channel who report from the beach while getting drenched during a massive storm? Well, each time a hurricane or Nor'easter roars up the coast, WAMU88.5's Bryan Russo puts on his rain slicker and galoshes and becomes that guy.

We asked Bryan to keep an audio diary of his experiences covering Super Storm Sandy. Here are some of his thoughts from the past week of nearly nonstop coverage.

The Calm Before the Storm

"It's 1 p.m. on Sunday. We're sitting here at the most narrow point of Ocean City. You look to your left you can see the beach, you look to the right you can see the Bay... Rain is already hitting me in the face," Bryan says.

"The worst part of doing this is after you've been outside getting hit from every angle, you get back in your car and realize not just how wet you are, but how much sand you have on you, too. And it's impossible to get dry."

The Response from Longtime Residents

While thousands of people along the coast evacuated during the storm, many others stayed put -- and even fit in time to hit a happy hour or two before Sandy's arrival.

"I think a lot of people really took this one lightly," he says. "People were partying yesterday, festivals, the boardwalk was jumping."

But even the hardiest of residents quickly retreated once the storm began showing its full force. By mid-afternoon on Sunday, the beach was nearly unrecognizable.

"I'm walking up over the dunes here, and that usual beautiful moment where you see everything in panoramic is not that at all," Bryan says. "The ocean is about 10 feet from the fence, the beach has been almost swallowed up."

In the Midst of the Storm

As the worst of Sandy came through our region Monday night, Bryan stepped outside to record another audio diary.

"I'm walking outside right now. It's a little after 8 p.m. on Monday, which means the high tide is going in twenty minutes," he says. "Ocean City is totally flooded... and it is a mess."

Journalists from all over the country descended on the resort and neighboring beach communities to report on the storm. But covering the community you live in is a very different experience.

"You get really desensitized when you're in the news business... that things happen to other people, they don't happen to you. And when they're happening to you and people that you know, it's just heartbreaking," Bryan says. "I know people that have lost homes, and businesses are under water, and it's just a mess. It's just heartbreaking... but everyone now is just in survival mode."


[Music: "Dry The Rain" by The Beta Band from High Fidelity]

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