A Fort Myers TV station continued to provide reports on social media and other platforms about the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Ian – which made landfall as a cat. 4 storm on a nearby barrier island – even after Ian’s destruction forced it to go off the air.
WINK-TV, a CBS affiliate owned by Fort Myers Broadcasting Company, was able to broadcast from its studios Wednesday after a power outage and after its studios flooded.
“The station you rely on is doing everything it can to regain full power,” news anchor Lois Thome said in a Facebook post on Thursday.
The previous night, the station lost power just before 5 p.m., as the hurricane was still moving through southwestern regions of the state. Thome, Chris Cifatte and Matt Devitt, his chief meteorologist, continued to post on Facebook for some time.
But Thome said on Facebook that the station’s offices were “not a place where we can work at this time”.
Devitt posted photos of WINK’s flooded first floor.
Journalist Michael Hudak posted video of floodwater entering the facility’s garage and submerging cars there. Personnel were evacuated to the second floor soon after.
Meteorologist Dylan Federico said on Twitter that emergency personnel finally evacuated personnel from the building early Thursday morning.
Despite their own heartbreaking experience with the storm, Deavitt and other WINK reporters continued to provide updates Thursday and Friday.
Federico wrote on Twitter: “The situation in Fort Myers is terrible. Most without electricity. No running water. It smells like sewage from overflowing pipes. It also smells of gasoline from boats floating around the city during storm surges. Debris everywhere. Uninhabitable.”
He also posted before and after photos of Fort Myers Beach.
On Friday, Michael Hudak and Gail Levy interviewed those rescued from Sanibel Island, cut off from the mainland after the main causeway was badly damaged.