The Man Who Flew
Published August 31, 2005
Aug. 31, 2005 5:33 pm
We made our way down I-90. Right now just outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We understand if we go around by way of Baton Rouge we can get into New Orleans.
Aug. 31, 2005 9:06 am
Feet up on the table, slumped in a couch, twilight, window open. Everything quiet because there was a hurricane the day before, so no TV’s, no lights, no cell phones, no one out driving...I used to sit out on a front porch in Rye, NY in the summer and eat dinner. At six o'clock the church bells from a mile away would chime, and you could hear it come in through the trees. The house was on the side of a hill, so you had a good view in two directions. What you couldn't see but only hear sometimes was a baseball game in the distance, beyond the trees — sometimes the crack of a bat, sometimes the cheer of a small crowd on a warm summer night...
Last night I was eating Tostitos, a full bag, and they were good. I reached down again and again and crunched. I had a few feet to move from the couch to the bed, and after the bag was done and the sun was down I made the move.
During the day we found people to talk to, people who had lost a lot. They were stunned and seemed to get some comfort from talking about it. In Gulfport, Mississippi I walked around the back of one man's house, where he was sifting through the wreckage of what used to be his house. In some places it is not a good idea to walk into someone's back yard, a stranger, and walk up behind him, but in Gulfport it's okay. The man glanced back at me and asked, "How'd you do?” He was asking if I had lost everything too.
The man was named Richard. He had shorts on and a flowered short-sleeved shirt. He was a bartender in one of the floating casinos. He lived in a house that now looked open like a dollhouse, with the rooms exposed for all to see. On one live shot I took a walking tour of Richard's house; on the next I told his story. It was a longer story than is usually told during a live shot, but the more I heard of it the better I liked it.
Like a lot of people who decided to ride out the storm, before previous hurricanes Richard had been warned by experts and had evacuated for no reason. This time he stayed. First the doors and windows blew out of his wooden house and the roof shook. He went under one beam of the house each time it shook violently. He pointed behind him and said four tornadoes came by. I had heard about tornadoes and what they sound like. "They sound like a freight train," Richard said, nodding.
By the time the fourth tornado went by Richard ran to the beam again, but this time when the roof shook it blew off. This scared him enough to run outside and try and make a run for the Post Office, a stone building down the street. But when he got outside he was first blown about 150 yards away where his feet touched down on the asphalt before he was lifted up again and blown another 1,000 yards, setting down behind a hotel. He was unscathed.
Aug. 28, 2005, 5:20 p.m.
I was squatting down in the parking lot, looking at the gravel, when suddenly one small stone turned dark. The first drop. Then another, and another.
"Here comes the rain," I said to nobody.
There are a number of factors in determining where to be to cover a hurricane. Initially you try to get to the worst spot, but that worst spot often moves as you try and reach it. This time it moved west. We flew to Panama City, Fla., and then drove to Pensacola, then to Gulfport, Miss., where we began doing live shots about a terrible storm on a sunny Sunday morning.
On a Gulf hurricane you want to be to the east of the eye. The hurricane spins counter-clockwise, so to get the worst of the wind-smacking you need to be east. I asked the truck guy how the truck was. It was a question that never failed to delight him. His eyes gleamed as he explained the dish would be all right on the eastern approach of the storm, but we could be in trouble after the arrival, when winds came down from the north.
As more news came in it seemed the hotel on the beach we chose could wind up underwater. It makes no sense to be in the worst spot in a hurricane if you can't transmit any pictures. Producer Mike Amor went to find a hotel on higher ground. Now he's gone out to find hot food. I saw him eyeing me eating the Tostitos corn chips.
"We have to ration those," he said.
[Editor's note: Join Team FOX coverage of aftermath rescue efforts and recovery in the wake of Hurricane Katrina .]
• E-mail Harrigan
Adjectives can't describe the way outsiders are seeing this storm. I have heard so many stories of people not being able to locate their loved ones. Can't FEMA or newspeople (local and national TV and radio) have people write their names on lists and get them to a central website? Even an century-old telegraph system could work. This should be rudimentary enough to set up, and then transfer those names of missing, injured, or found to that central website. I'm not missing anyone myself but am praying for everyone down there. I sure hope that Harvey Jackson finds his wife. His story breaks my heart. You are the #1 newsperson on the #1 network. I always stop what I'm doing when you are on and listen to what you have to say. You have quite a following, and deserve a LONG vacation when this is over!!!
Do you know how the Seabees came out of this?
I just wanted to tell you how impressive your reporting was. I'm from NJ and was glued to the TV during the storm and now during the aftermath. You and your crew made an incredible impression and I just wanted to say Thank you for your outstanding effort. The Weather Station paled in comparison and continues to do so. As a nurse, I am concerned about the hospitals in the area, as well as the nurses and doctors who have been unable to leave. Are they able to get additional staff in help them?
Thank you for the great coverage of hurricane Katrina. Can you please address the effect this has had on Military families stationed in that area? There are a lot of us wondering about our families stationed on the Gulf Coast. One story you might be interested in is: NMCB 1 is is the process of trying to return home from deployment overseas. They are currently stuck in Atlanta, GA with no way to contact their families in the Gulfport / Long Beach area. They have no idea as to when they will be allowed back into the area to find out whether their families are safe or not. Can you find out if there will be a number we can call or a centeralized communication center set up for surviors to reach their families outside the area of devestation? Thank you again for all you've done and are doing. God Bless and stay safe.
Mount Vernon, MO
We always look for you when something is happening.
Martha and Leslie
You had my family mesmerized with your reports on Katrina. We loved the folksy way you delivered the news...it reeled us in everytime. Thanks and keep up the great work.
Fantastic coverage of Katrina. Prior to your reports, I had not been a big fan of FOX News channel, however your quick wit and brave coverage of this amazing hurricane won me over. Keep that sense of humor, it kept me coming back for more. You are an asset to the FNC team and certainly deserve more air time. AWESOME JOB!!
I was absolutely glued to the TV yesterday watching you and your team's antics in a state of absolute disbelief. It was some of the best TV I've ever seen and I thought your reporting was excellent - so immediate and fresh.
On a more serious note, although watching you was highly amusing I feel very sad for all the families who have lost family, friends, pets and homes in the hurricane. The pictures that are being shown today on FOX and on the other channels are very disturbing.
I hope that you and your colleagues (all of whom were also excellent ) will be able to talk to some of the people who have been so badly affected by these events as I'm sure your ability to report so vividly will encourage those outside the area to contribute to any relief funds that are being set up.
Steve Harrigan's report from Gulfport, MS was the best TV I've seen in a while! I'm not sure if he's courageous or crazy. Loved it. Shout out to you Steve.
Man oh man! My buddies and I have watched your coverage all night long. You're a very gifted person who knows how to tell a story and let his fans be right there with him. Please stay safe in your journeys and keep up the good work. Thank You.
I was really impressed with your hurricane coverage today. You scared me to death! Watching you took me back to Hurricane Hugo in 1989. I was so engrossed in your coverage that I was actually shocked to see the sun shining here when I went outside! You made me feel like I was there!!!
Glad you and your crew stayed safe today. Loved the goggles. Please wear a helmet next time!
First I'd like to say you do a great job and you are the only way I have gotten any info from Gulfport. I live there but was lucky to be visiting in NY. It's now late on August 29th and I know you and your crew were down all day but is there any more? Do you know how it is on the coast. I live just a few blocks from the beach. I can't get in touch with anyone. I know you'll update when you can but please make it soon.
A concerned Gulfport resident
You deserve a gold medal. Your coverage of Katrina from that parking lot was the best piece of broadcast journalism LIVE I've ever seen. I think you're one brave guy and to bring us the pictures we got, you and your crew did a top job. Great stuff Steve and the best hurricane coverage as always is on FNC.
Dear Mr. Harrigan,
Your coverage on Hurricane Katrina was the most exciting and dramatic coverage I have ever watched on a news channel. I at times said "Just get back inside!" Then the next thing I saw was you up to your knees in a flooded parking lot. I don't usually e-mail news anchors but I thought you did such a great job that I needed to let you know.
P.S. I'll be tuning to FOX just to see your reports. Keep safe!! An amazed viewer,
As a retired Navy man from the Seabee Base in Gulfport and a daughter and grandson in the Vancleave area I was particularly interested in your report. Any information coming out of the Seabee Base?
EO1 (SCW) (Ret)
Today was my first day watching you cover a news event. I was fascinated, terrified,excited and appalled. I thought it was the most fascinating thing I have ever seen. It is amazing that you would put yourself in so much danger, but it was impossible to stop watching. I called my sister in law to have her watch. We both agree that you are a little crazy. It was raining here in Ohio, and I felt like I was there watching you in person.
You are right about those goggles, I'd rather see what was coming at me. I am a new fan and will watch FOX exclusively.