Back in the dark, distant past, I used to work on an estate in upper Northwest Washington, DC. One day, U.S. Marshals started to swarm the grounds, putting up a large fence around the entire property and issuing badges to those of us who worked there. Elian Gonzalez arrived soon after, taking up residence in the 18th century farmhouse outside my office window.
The whole time he was there, the Marshals did little to disrupt my everyday routine. I was still allowed to drive in and park in the parking lot, I could come and go as I pleased.
No, the most disruptive part of it all was the news media. They tried to stop me as I went to work, they hovered helicopters over us, and the Marshals had to put opaque covering over some of the windows because the media were stationed on the street behind us, trying to take pictures with long lenses through the windows and out to the other side.
I’m reminded of this because of an interesting sidelight to the “melted freeway” story here today.
West Oakland residents are steeling themselves for the inevitable onslaught of freeway traffic coursing through city streets this afternoon, but it’s the constant roar of television station helicopters overhead that really has them fuming.
Hunter Wimmer lives on 32nd Street. He said the tanker crash didn’t wake him, nor did the explosion or collapsing freeway, although he vaguely remembers hearing something and going right back to sleep. But he knew something serious was up when the choppers started hovering at 5 a.m., 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and never left. Except for nighttime, they’ve been at it nearly non-stop ever since.
“We don’t pretend to live in a quiet neighborhood, we’re on a bus route,” he said. “The freeway collapse will already impact our neighborhood with traffic, and the helicopters are rubbing salt in the wound.”
Wimmer said he called one station to complain and the news director there said he couldn’t hear him over the noise. [Mercury News]