Junious Smith III column: A brief window of normalcy
It's still a surreal experience.
Since Hurricane Florence hit the area, it's been a madhouse with Neuse News. The team has been all over the place, trying to break updates and get to numerous areas affected by the storm to provide our readers with up-to-date coverage. It's something the area deserves and it's a blessing to be trusted as a source of information.
Admittedly, covering tragic events does take a toll. Mentally, it's rough because not only are we reporting on our neighbors, but we're getting a front row seat to the devastation. Areas I once frequented are now flooded and unrecognizable. Hundreds have lost everything, some of whom didn't have issues during Hurricanes Matthew or Floyd.
I consider myself a relatively strong person, but this week has nearly broken me. I'm a man of the people first and a journalist second, so seeing the area hurting like this has been painful. All I can do is write stories and relay information through Facebook broadcasts, but it doesn't feel like it’s enough.
It might've seemed trivial to cover a volleyball game this week, but it brought a bit of normalcy.
Greene Central and Ayden-Grifton athletes have certainly sustained their share of Florence damage, but the teams were able to practice this week to set up Thursday's match. Talking to some of the players and coaches, it was evident how excited they were to get the season going again. For a short time, I was focused on simply the action, even if it was just a little selfish on my part.
There's really no way to describe it without feeling terrible. B.J. Murphy described it as "survivor’s guilt," where you're fortunate to avoid danger but feel terrible about the peril of others. I don't fake emotions; if I care about a situation, I'm fully invested. There have been moments during our coverage where I tried not to cry on camera. People have lost so much while I've been able to skate through with no issue.
For a moment, it felt good to cover something other than the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Still, I hurt for those affected. Sports is sometimes described as a means of escape, and as time goes by, hopefully, it lessons the pain across the area.
I'm just grasping at straws here.