Chief meteorologist Lane Pope of WXII-TV in Salem, N.C., provided viewers with lifesaving information prior to tornadoes striking in the heart of the stationís viewing area. Two-and-a-half hours into broadcasting emergency weather warnings, the urgency in her voice was unmistakable. "If youíre in Clemmons, folks, this is headed for you. You need to find a safe place." Throughout the ordeal, WXII stayed on the air with16 hours of live severe weather coverage, which also was streamed online. As the storms passed, the stationís effort shifted from forecasting to damage assessment. Even before sunrise, the WXII news team was in neighborhoods broadcasting witness accounts of what had occurred. By marshaling additional resources from nearby WYFF-TV, the station was able to bring viewers live helicopter coverage of the aftermath. While it is impossible to put a number on the lives that were potentially saved, many people in the community have contacted the station with words of appreciation for providing information that ultimately got them to safety. Both Pope and the WXII news team were recognized by the Forsyth County Commissioners for their work in the face of the crisis. The commissioners praised Pope and other first responders for "their excellent and timely work on the evening of May 8, 2008, and the valuable role they play in protecting the lives of our citizens."
More stories on Disaster Relief and Recovery