Hurricane Harvey landed on the southeast coast of Texas on August 26, dumping more than 50 inches of rain in four days. Harvey dropped 19 trillion gallons of water, killing dozens and sending 30,000 people to emergency shelters. Radio and television stations across the country provided life-saving wall-to-wall emergency information and storm updates, with reporters risking their own safety to provide coverage. Broadcasters provided wall-to-wall coverage, with staff staying at flooded stations, sleeping in hotels and overcoming technical difficulties to stay on air and keep listeners informed. The FCC reported that as of mid-day on August 27, no TV station had been knocked off the air. Broadcasters also went to great lengths to raise millions of dollars for hurricane relief efforts.
"NAB salutes Texas and Gulf Coast broadcasters in the path of Hurricane Harvey who are devoting enormous resources to keeping people safe this weekend,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. ”Local radio and TV stations play a unique role as first informers during emergency weather situations."
“Broadcasters and other news outlets have also played a critical role in conveying emergency information, and in some cases, even coordinating live, on-air rescues,” said FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. “Everyone who is pitching in deserves our gratitude and support. We’re all in this together.”
In an interview with TEGNA’s CBS affiliate KHOU-TV Houston, Vice President Mike Pence said, “Well, first, let me thank you, and let me thank this station, and all the great local media that has been working, I know, around the clock, to get real time information to those that are struggling in the aftermath of landfall for Hurricane Harvey and now dealing with the historic flooding.”
“Radio is the ultimate connector,” Sarah Frazier of CBS Radio Houston told Radio Ink. “We’re connecting people to information and we’re connecting people to the relief efforts and, most importantly, to each other.”
Less than a week later, Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the Carribean Islands before hitting Florida’s west coast. The storm battered Fort Myers and Tampa, and also affected Miami and the Florida Keys. Hurricane Irma’s two landfalls on September 10 triggered evacuation orders for 5.6 million people, left more than 5.7 million people without power and caused flooding, plus scores of downed trees and power lines. Florida broadcasters took extensive precautions, including securing reserves of fuel and food, and provided wall-to-wall-coverage.