I remember waking up to the bedside clock radio, listeneing for a few minutes to the news, then jumping up and snapping on the TV. It was September 11 and I watched in horror as tragedy unfolded in front of me in almost real time.
Druing the hostage crisis in the Lindt cafe, I watched as a gun battle ensued. The pictures made it real in some ways.
The pictures from Hurricane Irma aren't being (for the most part) taken on the ground. It's pictures like this one that hammer it home. Every plane in and around Florida is currently desperately trying to get in or out (mostly out).
Then there is stuff like this one.
Watching in real time as planes turn back. The guy noticing a single flight continuing in. The hurried boarding. The amazingly plotted course out of the hurricane through the outermost arm.
The fact that we can see, the world over, this kind of stuff in real time gives us a picture we really have never had before. One of magnitude. Watching a plane crash into the side of a building is horrifying. Seeing a sea of little yellow plane shaped dots frantically, and en-masse fly out of somewhere - with a brilliant red and green swirl of death not far behind - is just as horrifying. It doesn't sterilise or lower the horror even though the picture is not a traditional on the ground snap or video. In some ways it is worse. More immediate. Both less and more.... real.
Anyone with loved ones in Porto Rico or Florida, you have my thoughts and wishes. To all the pilots, crews and support staff involved in the evacuation efforts - you have my respect and awe.