Gray Television President/COO Bob Prather saluted his WITN Washington/Greenville (N.C.) crew as it entered its 58th hour of coverage at around 2 p.m. ET Sunday, for providing eyewitness reporting from the region where Hurricane Irene made U.S. landfall.
"This kind of coverage of natural disasters is what keeps our stations first in the hearts and minds of our communities," Prather said in an internal memo circulated to Gray management.
The station stayed on the air despite water streaming in through the roof and its staffers sustaining serious personal property damage. "Pretty much everybody has issues back home," said Chris Mossman, vice president and general manager.
The story today is power outages, closed roads, property damage, and, of course, the fatalaties from the hurricane.
Some 95% of the viewing area lost power, said WCTI VP/GM Lyle Schulze, and phone service in and around the region is spotty. Schulze and his crew got a frightfully close-up look at Irene from their New Bern perch near the coast.
"We endured 12 hours of the eye wall battering us with the strongest winds and heaviest rain of the storm," said Schulze via email.
While his crew could not do live shots in the thick of the storm, a roving crew did collect video and file reports for when the eye had passed through the region.
"We got some amazing stories," Schulze said.