Friday, September 19, 2008

Check your zip code for power, water

Here's a handy service we've been making available for several days now.  You can enter your zip code to see what other people in your area are reporting as far as power, water, damage, etc.  The database was created by a Rice University student, and made available to us.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Cavalry Arrives from Austin

KTBC Supplies

KTBC Water

After hearing of the shortages of water and food in Houston, the general manager of KTBC FOX 7 in Austin, Dan Baker, decided to help us out.  He filled a truck with pallets of water, ice, perishable and non-perishable food, and drove the truck HIMSELF from Austin to our loading dock.  These pictures don’t show all the ice and frozen foods we unloaded and stashed away.  Way to go KTBC! 

Paul is dead, man…. miss him, miss him, miss him

Paul is dead man...

I’m not sure what made me pull off I-10 at the Taylor exit to check on the Beatles… but I had a strange premonition that even they weren’t untouched by Hurricane Ike.  What I found reminded me of a homicide scene… everyone gathered around a body, the corpse covered to protect it from curious eyes. 

UPDATE: Macca's face was damaged by the fall, so it may be a while until we see him back in his place.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Take a Break

We've just wrapped continuous coverage. 110 hours straight. We'll continue with updates and extended coverage tomorrow. Because We Are Your Gulf Coast Weather Authority!

Still Going

Still on the air, 108+ hours and counting. I've sat in for audio, graphics, prompter, floor director and I've shot video of damage in my neighborhood. The most sobering moment came this morning as we watched live SkyFOX video of the devastation on the Bolivar Peninsula. Nothing but mud and debris, with the empty pilings poking up.

A personal look at the damage came this afternoon from my wife. She sent me a photo from today of the Crystal Beach area where her aunt and uncle built a beach house decades ago. The first photo is from before Hurricane Ike hit. The house just below the "H" in Holiday Drive was built by Joe Capello for his family. In the bottom photo it stood just north of the red arrow.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Grim Reminder

I was just listening to  Rep. Kevin Brady discuss what he's seen in his district in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.  One of the things he mentioned was seeing bodies lying in the street.  The bodies were from a nearby cemetery.  I guess it shows two things... that nature is no respecter of the dead, and don't count on finding your ancestors where you left them.

Same horse, different saddle

I was snagged by audio op Sammy Valdez to keep his seat warm while he handled some tech matters in the studio. That brief training I got on the audio board years ago is coming in handy this weekend.
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The drumbeat goes on.. and on.. and on..

Now in our 58th hour of continuous coverage. Still talking to those with power, and those in outlying areas with houses full of evacuees. We've had a lot of response over the web... especially through our live stream. During the peak of the storm, there were more than 3000 people in our live chat, making it impossible to read. The posts were flying so fast, they were pushed off the screen by new post almost immediatley.

A closer look at this shot from the studio reveals a problem we've had since early Saturday morning. All the monitors in the "monitor wall" set element are blank! We lost the router that feeds all the air monitors in the building. All the monitors at our desks, the ring of monitors in the center of the newsroom, all snow. We have to go the live stream online in order to watch our own coverage. Many thanks to members of the web, like Doug Delony here on the left, for keeping this vital link going throughout Ike's assault.

If you noticed the lcd's near the center of the shot; they are fed from a different router system containing in-house sources such as graphics and sat feeds.
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Return of SkyFOX

We had to send our uberchopper, SkyFOX, away to protect it during Hurricane Ike, but it blew back into town yesterday.  I got too busy to post this in a timely fashion, but it's still a quick,  interesting look at the beast.

A face behind the coverage...

... unfortunately it's mine, and it's getting tired by this point.

Go Deep!

The commitment to stay with continuous coverage has been extended indefinitely.  We originally thought noon today, with updates throughout the afternoon, but changing conditions such as heavy rain and flash flooding are compelling enough to warrant continued coverage. 
Just keeping the school closing list updated is a full-time task.
The vast scope of damage to the upper Gulf Coast is still unfolding as the more isolated communities begin to dig themselves out and contact county authorities.

Flash Flood Warnings now

Back on the air

I've been back on the air since 4am. We're talking to folks who call to recount storm or rescue stories. Also talked live Brian Boswell. He was standing on a debris-covered roadway, an overturned boat behind him.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I'm getting some sleep

Aggie Journalists: A few more tweets from the storm

Aggie Journalists: A few more tweets from the storm

Other Voices

Of course there are lots of others blogging about Ike.  Take time to read fellow Aggie Sara Foley's account of Galveston evacuees in Austin.  Good stuff!

It could get dicey

the toilets are out... all of them... and night approaches...

More Ike Aftermath

A closer look at damage to an office building on SW Fwy near Weslayan. I took a walk around the block and found plenty of damage in our immediate area. You can see some of what I saw in the "Ike Aftermath" slideshow.

Goodbye Balinese

If you've heard the song "Balinese" by ZZ Top, and ever wondered if such a place existed... it did until last night... Now AP reports the club and pier is gone... ripped apart by the storm surge.  An unconfirmed report states the only thing remaining is the famous red door.

Covering the Aftermath

Late last night, officials in Galveston were asking journalists to use discretion when shooting what they found in Ike's wake... presumably they were talking about bodies of those who chose to stay on the island.  Despite warnings of "certain death" and urgent pleas to leave before the storm surge covered our little sandbar community.

Today... Galveston city manager Steve LeBlanc reports that at least 17 buildings -- some of them homes -- burned to the ground during the storm due to firefighters' inability to respond as high winds whipped the island.  Search teams are still combing the city, but remarkably no fatalities have been reported on Galveston Island.

Goodbye Hurricane Ike...

... Hello Tropical Storm Ike!

"I didn't know it would be this bad"

That's what we're hearing from people who stayed in Galveston or along the coast. I do remember hearing the National Weather Service using the words "certain death" to describe the arrival of Ike.

Locked out

The card readers at all the secure doors are now dead.  That means we have to prop open any secure door if we want to get back the same way.  There are also ceiling leaks starting to pop up in the newsroom.

Ike arrives!

This is what 66mph winds look like.  Shot outside the back door, facing the Weslayan overpass.

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Ike kicks in the door!

A loud crash signalled Ike's arrival in our neighborhood. One of the glass doors to the inner courtyard shattered all over a nearby copier. Ike was still able to move the plywood with three men holding it in place. I should know, I was one of them.
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Right up the channel

The "nightmare scenario" for this region has always been a strong hurricane running right up Galveston Bay and into the Houston Ship Channel... Take a look at this FoxRad radar shot of the eye of Hurricane Ike passing over Galveston Island and into Galveston Bay. The Port of Houston is vital to this country's economy. Extensive damage from this type of scenario will inflict economic pain around the country.
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The eye arrives

The eye of Hurricane Ike crashes on shore at Galveston with 110 mph winds... one mph below Cat 3 strength. 

In the dark...

The Associated Press is saying that more than 4 million people are without power due to Hurricane Ike.  We watched several areas of Houston go dark as the winds increased earlier this evening.  Transformers were popping all over the city in bright blue or green flashes.  The desk got a number of calls from people reporting "green lightning." around the city.  After several of the closest flashes, the lights in the control room would flicker.  At least once we lost all lights in the studio.  

Restaurant burning

Houston landmark restaurant Brennan's is on fire downtown.

Friday, September 12, 2008

MyTechGuy under stress

An approaching hurricane can trigger all kinds of strange behavior.  MyTechGuy Doug Delony isn't usually this agitated.

Without master control, we'd just sit in black all day!

Just one of the aisles of rack equipment.
A lockdown shot of trees to show wind speed outside the studio.
Even security guards need sleep.
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Pattie Shieh files a report from just outside the employee entrance.  The wind is strong enough that it overpowers my puny camera mic.

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Going out

Chris Stipes ready for action.
Eckhart von Ellenrieder makes sure there is plenty of gas for the trip back.
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Here comes Ike

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Getting Ready

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The Hilton is falling...

A chunk of the Clear Lake Hilton fell on our live truck in the parking lot. A large chunk. Everyone is okay, though.
I'm in the booth now.

Ike approaches

It's getting windy outside.  I moved my car to higher ground, and it was much windier than when I arrived at the station this afternoon.
I noticed a wide range of gas prices as I came in.  I was able to fill up at $3.33, but I saw gas going for as much as $3.74 within just a few blocks.  That was if the station was even open.

Yet another look...

Here's a better view of what's going on in the control room.

">better view

Ruben isn't worried

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Another look at the control room

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