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I may have a new part time job: FOX Travel Office! And it can be done during commercial breaks!
Tuesday night, right before the show, I got an update from my Washington, D.C. colleague Molly Henneberg, who has been going from one place to another in the hurricane-torn region near the Gulf. She has been doing great non-stop working covering the destruction of this terrible natural disaster. Molly messaged me via her BlackBerry (search) — an e-mail device — and her message was about our work. Cell phones have not been working but we are lucky for this form of communication. It is very rugged in the hurricane torn region.
I messaged back and asked her location — she messaged back that she arrived in Baton Rouge (search) — she had been in Mississippi. I then asked her via e-mail/BlackBerry where she and the crew were going to spend the night. She responded that there were no rooms and that she and her crew would have to camp. She was not complaining — merely giving me an idea of what was going on for the crew. I want the facts and the behind the scenes. She also quipped that she is not much of a camper.
A short time later, after our show started, I read the e-mail on the air to give viewers an idea of what it is like covering this story — including that our people were sleeping in cars, etc., since there are no rooms for anyone. Our people want to get you the news and will go to great lengths to do so.
As an aside, FOX Travel does all our travel arrangements, but obviously it is silly to even think there are hotels, etc., for people in that area. Our people are doing whatever they can to get you the news.
Midway through the show, I coincidentally got another colleague e-mail — this time from a New York-based producer who was also covering the hurricane. I know this producer from my many "road trips" where we were both covering a story. Molly does not know this colleague since FOX is a big, big operation and the producer works out of our New York bureau and Molly out of D.C.
I likewise e-mailed the producer: "Where are you? Do you have food? Place to stay?" She responded that she was lucky — that she was in Baton Rouge and had a room. Apparently — and I could have this wrong — the producer and others she is traveling with to cover the story are staying at a home of a friend of a friend of a friend... or something like that in Baton Rouge. I was so busy doing our two-hour show that I could not spend much time getting all the accommodations details exactly right. All I knew or cared about is that she and her colleagues were in a safe place. I then had an idea. I e-mailed her back with Molly's e-mail address and said, "Maybe you can help out Molly and her crew? They could use some help." She did... and they hooked up.
I woke up to this e-mail from Molly in my "inbox" on my BlackBerry:
E-mail from colleague Molly Henneberg's BlackBerry:
Thanks to you, I am about to lay my head on a pillow, in a bed, in a gorgeous home in Baton Rouge. Honestly, I'm so tired and dirty... I just want to cry cuz I'm soo happy.
Shayla contacted us (because you told her about my plight) and hooked us up with a family who took us in. We are sooo thrilled. We all needed this rest desperately.
Thank you for caring. It's been a grueling day with a very happy ending.
Incidentally, the story does not stop there... after reading Molly's initial camping e-mail on the air, and after hooking her up with New York-based producer, and during our two-hour special, I got many, many, many e-mails from viewers in the Baton Rouge area offering Molly and her crew a place to sleep — other than their car or the side of the road. The offers were extremely generous and really does show how we all can pull together in an emergency. And yes, we can "multi-task!"
If you watched last night, you would have learned that Washington, D.C. — where I anchored the show from — had a tornado warning during our show and that I learned that DURING the show from our meteorologist who happened to mention it during his report. I am so immersed in the weather and devastation in the Gulf states that I had NO IDEA about my own city. I had not checked it or paid any attention. I was concerned about those who were in trouble in the south. I did not have a clue that we were having weather issues... but I could tell you anything you wanted to know about Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama weather! I could even tell you the five-day forecast and the last 30 years history of their weather. When I walked out of the bureau after midnight, the wind was blowing like crazy... but it was a complete surprise to me.
During our show last night we heard a bunch of cars — a familiar sound in D.C. of a motorcade. All of us in the studio wondered who it could be — President Bush is not expected back in D.C. until later today and he will arrive on the White House's South Lawn by helicopter (Marine 1) unless weather forces him to drive into town via motorcade which is rare. My stage manager jumped to the studio window to check out the noise since so it was so odd to have a motorcade so close to our bureau (and so extra loud) at that hour. We are on Capitol Hill but still it seemed odd. Well, it turns out that the motorcade was simply a scene in a movie. There were lots of movie people outside filming the fake motorcade... and no, I don't know what movie it is. Of course Capitol Hill (search) is a popular place to shoot movie scenes and after hours is when the movie people get the greatest access.
Now for some of your e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
I have been glued to the news and watching this terrible event unfold. I wish I could help them, and I also wish I could give those Coast Guard guys a big pat on the back, our military guys are nothing short of HEROES. I think they are so brave and they make us proud.
E-mail No. 2
Please, if you can, make a plea for the Army to drop drinking water, baby food, etc., from helicopters just like they did for the Tsunami in Indonesia. There are thousands of children (not to mention adults and pets) in desperate need. Emergency trucks and personnel can't reach these people due to the condition of the roads and bridges.
E-mail No. 3
Both my wife and I have been in two cyclones here in Queensland, unfortunately they were near misses, but myself and my father I were involved with the clean-up after Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin, but the devastation that Katrina left is far, far worse, and our hearts go out to all the people in New Orleans and surrounding areas, not to mention FOX News reporters who were in the thick of it.
Jon and Judy Cernan
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
I hope you read this on air. Keep up the good work, Greta!
E-mail No. 4
Three-hour special last night, according to FOX Web page two-hour special tonight? Who did you tick off to make you work all that time? Or do you have to work all those hours to pay off the smoking monkey and the 6 cats along with the 6 Chinese men since your business deal went sour ;) Get some rest!
E-mail No. 5
This is a first for me. I just wanted you to know I watch you every night. You do a terrific job. I was a victim of the flood of July 2002. We lived out of trash bags for a week. We lived on the Sabinal River in Utopia, TX. It happened the week of the 4th. It is something I do not wish on my worst enemy. I can really relate to the people who have experienced "Katrina". I know how emotionally and financially devastating it is. After we took our savings to rebuild, my husband suffered a rupture aneurism of the aorta, was air life to university hospital in San Antonio, was in trauma ICU for 9 weeks and rehab for 2, we took him home and he passed away 2 days later. I have since picked up the pieces and started all over at the age of 56. It has not been easy, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
I have been watching FOX News all day, while I work here. I just want to do something for some of these people that have no place to go. I feel like as a nation and we all need to come together as one. I was thinking: Why can't we open our homes up and temporarily adopt a family till they can get on there feet? I would am willing to open up my home in some way to help someone out. I have been there and know how is feels. I do not know how to do something like this. Maybe it would steam roll. Anyway I hope you are able to read this, I know you are very busy. Keep up the good work.
San Antonio, TX
E-mail No. 6
I know it’s still very soon after the hurricane, but I hope that the music industry and Hollywood types who are so quick to jump on the “cause” bandwagon, will help the unfortunate victims of this horrendous disaster!
Enjoy your show,
E-mail No. 7
My Florida daughter told me that she heard some college is talking about renting a cruise ship to house folks displaced because of Katrina. Perhaps we should think about utilizing some of our military resources. Surely we have some troop ships of the Navy not in use that could be utilized... possibly some that are in decent condition and might be mothballed. You're an innovative girl.
I found a card that I framed which reads, "There is nothing wrong with the world that a sensible woman could not settle in an afternoon" — Jean Giraudoux
E-mail No. 8
Watching from Wales in UK we are finding the aftermath of Katrina as hard to watch as you and other FOX staff must find it hard to cover.
One thing that we must say is that as long as the looters are getting stuff from stores then leave them alone. Survival instincts and all that. Looting from private houses of folks' personal possessions is something else though. All those provisions in the stores will be condemned anyway. Let everyone take the lead of Wal-Mart — they have adopted an 'open up and help yourself' policy!
We sit here watching this appalling disaster — feeling totally useless. All we can do is to send donations.
Our prayers are for those caught up in this catastrophe.
Dottie and Will
And finally, I just got an e-mail from one of our producers covering the devastation:
E-mail No. 9
I'm on my way back to New Orleans. We have to rendezvous with the sat truck for our lives at 5 a.m. I ended up taking a shower, and putting on some clean (borrowed) clothes on. I'm wearing a 14-year-old's pink PJs, which say "Boys Are Smelly" all over them. I have an LSU shirt on and no shoes. I washed my Keen's after a morning "walk" through the knee-deep downtown water. My luggage is with another crew, which got separated from us. We've had no cell phone coverage nor did BlackBerry work. Driving away from New Orleans and seeing those cell phone bars appear was the best thing I've seen in the past 72 hours. Once in Baton Rouge I finally had some regular food — a Big Mac. I haven't had a Big Mac in 8 years and I don't remember it ever tasting better then tonight. In the last 72 hours we barely ate. I had 3 "meals" during that time — an apple with peanut butter, bag of chips and... I can't remember the third. It was sooooo long ago.
More to come,
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