Early Monday morning torrential rains soaked much of the northern part of the Metroplex. Gainesville was the unfortunate target for the brunt of Mother Nature’s fury. So far officials have estimated damage at more than 30 million dollars. Several people lost their lives, while others find themselves with only the clothes on their back.
Flood waters ripped through low lying areas, sweeping away everything in its current. Homes, businesses and cars-very little was left untouched. This small town, as often demonstrated in the most trying of times, has sought comfort in the arms of its neighbors.
Today, I spent the day in Gainesville to follow rescue searchers looking for missing residents. As you can imagine, the muggy Texas heat was relentless. While the search for the missing has turned up a few happy reunions, much of the town remains somber. Yesterday, two bodies were pulled from the creek that was responsible for much of the flooding. So far six people have died in relation to the flood.
One thing that really concerned me was the inability of some local officials to communicate effectively. Their statements to the media were very confusing and sometimes contradictory. We were having trouble establishing and confirming the exact number of missing people in the city.
In a disaster such as this, local residents turn to their government officials for guidance when all seems lost. There may not always be a concrete answer to a question, but people should at least be able to find comfort in the leadership during an emergency.
I do not criticize the thankless work that our emergency responders shoulder. They sacrifice for our well-being every day of the year. I do, however, point out the need for centralized communication during a crisis. When natural disasters strike, government officials and the public should be on the same page. The quick action of the emergency responders in Cooke County surely saved the lives of countless people.
WFAA has been in Gainesville since Monday night with a team of reporters and equipment. Our large satellite truck, which is pictured above, can transmit video to anywhere in the globe. It uses a network of satellites that is down linked by the home station. Inside the truck is a myriad of editing and broadcasting equipment. There are two editing bays, where reporters and photographers can piece together a package from the field. There is also work space for producers and operators to work. At one point during the day, nine people were packed into the truck.
Microwave trucks have tall, retractable masts, can broadcast from under 100 miles away from the transmitter tower. Channel 8 has seven microwave trucks which are dispatched across the DFW Metroplex each day. Some stations use live video to sensationalize a story, adding a sense of urgency. WFAA uses live shots to complement a story, providing an additional angle to a news story.
HD Chopper 8 was also in the skies of Gainesville not only providing video for newscasts, but also assisting local authorities in the search for missing residents. It has been incredible to see how these news gathering resources can provide an added service to viewers. I couldn’t ask for better experience in live reporting today.
I hope that in some way our reporting aided the community in this difficult time. Our coverage is exposing the tragedy in Cooke County to a national audience, opening doors for donations and relief.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the corporation and employees of WFAA-TV, Belo Corp., or Northwestern State University. They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2007 Lane Luckie