Yesterday in the newsroom we heard on the police scanner that a building had just collapsed at 517 E. Main St. with five people inside. A driving rain storm had just passed through and I was picturing the worst.
Before our photographer and reporter reached the scene, I looked up the address on Google Maps and called up the “street view” option. I was able to take a photo, or really a screen grab, from back in time when the building was still in adequate shape and no one inside could possibly know the horror in store. What a weird feeling.
(It was even weirder when on my first try I mistakenly got the same street addresss in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and found a rural scene.)
I also used this technique to find the Shelton home of the Bridgeport terrorist who tried to blow up Times Square. And right after last week’s tornado, I used it to find addresses that were announced over the scanner. The images weren’t terribly useful and I discarded them.
Scanners often mislead us and this was no exception. A ceiling collapsed, causing lots of grief and human drama (as illustrated on our A1 today).The photo of a very distressed 77-year-old tenant captures the scene with both humanity and clarity.
The building today doesn’t look much different. Just emptier and with some tarp where the roof was. But some day, I’m going to have a real before-and-after presentation when something unfortunate happens. It will feel strange, like sending a photographer through a time machine.