It seems like every storm has its pop culture moment. Remember how the term "landmass" took on a whole different meaning after Hurricane Isaac? This time it appears Tropical Storm Karen has spawned a rising internet star, Reporter Rhonda Faye from Lafourche Parish, Louisiana.
Just to be clear, Rhonda Faye's Facebook page describes her as a comedian, but her reports on what's happening (and not happening) mirror much of what the real media outlets have been covering the past few days: people stocking up on groceries, bringing in their trash cans, and making preparations for when they might lose power.
[Editor's Note: Read more about the real person behind Rhonda Faye in the update at the bottom of the page.]
In one report from the Mathews, Louisiana Walmart, Rhonda describes in a thick Cajun accent how "the shelves behind me are clear of Vienna Sausages."
Watch the video: http://youtu.be/O4Ab3d2HvTs
Vienna Sausages are a recurring theme in Rhonda Faye's reports. In another video, she gives viewers tips on making dinner after the power goes out. Step one, grab your crab pot.
"As long as you have some butane, you can still eat good!"
She lists some of the special ingredients you'll need, including garlic, onions, potatoes, corn,
"And some hot dogs, which are pretty much like grown up Vienna Sausages."
Watch the video: http://youtu.be/_6W4Km6qNw4
But probably her best storm prep advice is to stay calm.
"This is just a tropical storm. And I'm all for preparing, but people are going a little bit crazy in Walmart. The winds are said to be 50 miles an hour. Uh, you go faster dan dat on the four lane to Houma. So you don't need to be so panicky, okay?"
She ends every report with her signature sign off, "I'll do another update when I see fit. Rhonda Faye out!"
Just nine hours after joining Facebook, Rhonda Faye's Facebook page had more than 5,500 likes and new reports were still being posted. It seems even the lack of a tropical storm won't stop this roving reporter from finding a story to share.
Some of Rhonda's online fans were also busy sharing her YouTube videos with the official Facebook page for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, hoping to get her noticed. Considering Ellen grew up in New Orleans, she may be the perfect person to appreciate this reporter from Raceland, Louisiana.
UPDATE: After our initial story on Rhonda Faye was posted on WLOX.com, I finally got in touch with this funny lady. Her real name is Amanda Caillouet and she really does live in Raceland, Louisiana. But she's not a reporter, or even a professional comedian. She's a kindergarten teacher at Lockport Lower Elementary School.
Caillouet said she's always loved doing impressions and came up with the "Rhonda Faye" character years ago.
"Rhonda Faye is just a character that I came up with in high school when I went to Starbucks for the first time and they asked me for my name. I just decided to say a name that I thought was funny."
And this isn't Rhonda's first time on storm duty. She actually started with Hurricane Ike in 2008, but didn't get much attention.
"Last year for Isaac, I brought her back and she took off... She gained popularity, but nothing like this year!"
The magic of social media has helped her reach a whole new audience this time around during Tropical Storm Karen.
"I am absolutely floored by the outpouring of love and support from Facebook and YouTube," Caillouet said.
Like Rhonda Faye on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/17b5KHm
Subscribe to her video channel on YouTube: http://bit.ly/GFbsv5
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