Topic: Disaster Relief and Recovery
Raycom’s NBC affiliate WALB-TV Albany, Ga. provided critical emergency information as eight tornados and two severe wind events hit seven South Georgia counties on January 2. The station also raised $187,000 for relief efforts in the "Rise Up for Recovery – Give for South Georgia Tornado Relief" telethon, held January 25. Winds reached 85 miles per hour, killing four people and felling at least 25,000 trees and 1,000 electric poles. Before the tornadoes hit, WALB’s "First Alert Weather Day" promos urged viewers to test generators, review emergency plans with their families and stock up on food, water and batteries. WALB staffers worked plenty of overtime, but still wanted to do more. Two shifts of volunteers spent the day helping clean yards, then returned to the station to complete their nightly news assignments.
About 38,000 people were without power and turned to WALB digital reports for days. WALB had 232,080 total video views the week of January 2, compared to 66,953 the week before. Many viewers thanked WALB for providing alerts in time for them to get into their safe room. WALB also received hundreds of phone calls seeking information. Some said they had trouble reaching city officials, but knew they could connect with newsroom staff. Examples of the storm coverage include these photos and this video .
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