So Jeff, you almost lost your pants on live television. Can you tell us just how close you came to being disrobed?
Did you volunteer for hurricane duty or were you told to go? Do you get “dangerous duty” pay?
Volunteered. No, no dangerous duty pay. It's my job to cover the news wherever that takes me — I'm up for the challenge.
Seriously, did you feel like you were in any real danger?
I was certainly conscious of the risks. There was debris flying all over the place: street signs, house siding, tree limbs. It wasn't until the day after that I became truly aware of the degree of the devastation.
How do you keep the television equipment working in those conditions?
Only with the help of a great crew. My photographer, Svein Schwab, was constantly cleaning his lens free of water and sand. And my audio technician, Glenn Wargo, wrapped all of the mikes and gear in plastic wrap, so that it wouldn't short out. One of the challenges of reporting from a hurricane is keeping your signal up and on the air. We used a 12–story hotel to shield the satellite truck from the hurricane–force winds. Resourcefulness is the key!
Have anything to say to those daredevils who ventured out in the storm?
Not only do they put their own lives at risk, but they also get in the way of emergency crews who need clear access to the roads and beaches during a hurricane. There's a reason cities issue mandatory evacuation orders; it's to keep everyone off the streets who do not need to be there. As for the TV crews, we had a job to perform. The public depends on us to document these storms. Our reporting gives the public vital information. Perhaps the next time there's a dangerous hurricane about to hit land, someone might decide to evacuate because they remember the Category 2 hurricane that almost took off my pants!
Were you in communication with your family during the hurricane? What did they have to say about you reporting from the eye of the storm?
I had sporadic communication with my family. The phone lines were down most of the day. As long as I was on the air, everyone knew I was OK.