As Hurricane Matthew heads toward Florida, TV stations such as WPTV, the E.W. Scripps-owned NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach, are mobilizing to cover the storm—while ensuring news crews’ safety.
The group-wide effort Scripps is putting into being ready for the storm, which is expected to hit Florida late Thursday or Friday, exemplifies the massive amount of planning and work underway at TV stations around the Southeast coast.
Scripps already has roughly 25 journalists from other markets—Buffalo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Tampa among them—on the ground in Florida to help in coverage, which is being coordinated by one of the group’s directors of news strategy.
Planning includes preparing journalists to cover the storm in a way that’s effective should there be a widespread power outage, cutting viewers off from traditional TV. That includes reporters, anchors and meteorologists tailoring their reports for radio, which will broadcast them in such an event, according to a Scripps rep.
The station, however, is doing what it can on its end to stay on-air. Generator fuel tanks have already been filled and are scheduled to be refueled Friday and Saturday if needed. Additional engineers and tech support are on the ground. Damage response teams are on notice should the station’s facility be damaged, the spokesperson said.
The group is taking steps to keep its journalists safe too. In addition to prepping employees on what to expect, WPTV has stocked up on food and water—with plans to bring in more Saturday if needed. Employees will also have access to counseling via phone or on-site should it be needed.