For journalists, hurricane coverage means hard work.
Many are running on adrenaline, caffeine and empty stomachs, wading through flooded back yards and swatting at blood-thirsty mosquitoes – all to get the best story possible.
One thing I learned as a reporter: Always have a pair of rubber boots in your trunk in case of emergencies. I just hated working in soggy shoes.
It's a message I passed along more than once as an editor while sending reporters into the wilds of Florida to cover natural or man-made disasters.
I stopped managing reporters last year when I left the newspaper business after 20 years for an editing position at an Orlando marketing company.
But my newsroom training remains.
Hurricane Irma is the biggest storm to brew up in the Atlantic since I left the Orlando Sentinel.
The run on gasoline. The bottled-water frenzy. The portable generator sellouts.
They didn't worry me. I've done this before.
I know that a storm can make a lot of changes while it's still a week away. I also know that you can get multiple hurricanes aiming at Florida during this time of year. This isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. Halloween is the safe zone.
But I noticed that I still got antsy at certain times of the day.
It had nothing to do with what was going on around me. It wasn't about the tweets and Facebook updates and office chatter about the storm.
It had everything with time of the day.
Just before 11 a.m., I noticed, I looked at the clock and wondered what was up. The same thing happened before 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
I took me a day to notice. Then I realized. These “antsy” moments were happening just before the routine hurricane updates.
That's how engrained hurricane coverage became in my mind.
Once I realized it was happening, I was able to shake it. I focused on other things. I boarded up a window. I prepped my generator.
This was the same generator I bought after four hurricanes hit Florida in 2004, leaving us without power for nearly two weeks.
It sat in my shed for years until Hurricane Matthew last year, when I pulled it out and filled it with gas.
As soon as the gas went it, it rushed right now, splashing all over me.
Rats, I later learned, chewed holes in the plastic gas tank when it was stored in the shed.
We didn't lose power during Matthew and I stopped thinking about the leaky generator until Irma.
I've tried everything to patch up the holes and nothing has worked so far. Yes, I've tried silver duct tape. Gas-tank repair goop. Spray-can rubberized coating. Black duct tape. Crazy glue. Elmer's glue. Silicon.
Right now, I'm waiting for the latest gunk I poured on the tank to dry.
But I'm not getting ancy for the next update (8 p.m., by the way). I'm just hunkering down (yes, I said it) while waiting for Irma to get here.
And, I checked. My trunk is empty. No rubber boots.