Saturday, April 10, 1999

TV/radio stations had reason to boast




BY JOHN KIESEWETTER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When Kay Schindler of Saint Bernard heard the weather sirens shortly before 5 a.m., she turned on the TV and saw an amazing sight.

        WCPO-TV meteorologist Pete Delkus was on Channel 9 charting the path of a tornado, street by street, across Hamilton County.

        “I was very impressed. I think they must have saved some people's lives,” she said.

        Channel 9's “Storm Tracker Doppler Radar” had a street-mapping system that Mr. Delkus used to pinpoint the bright red storm cells. He had stayed all night at Channel 9 to track the storm system he told viewers at 11 p.m. could possibly bring severe weather.

        At WKRC-TV, meteorologists had been warning viewers about possible bad weather for several days, said meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer.

        “We knew about the storms out in Illinois,” Channel 12's Tim Hedrick told viewers at noon Friday, broadcasting from storm-ravaged Blue Ash, “but we were unsure how strong they would be when they got into our area.”

        Channels 12 and 9 said their continuous coverage began before 5 a.m. WLWT (Channel 5) cut away for NBC's Today show at 7 a.m. for national news, then resumed coverage. Those three aired storm reports all day, through 6:30 p.m.

        WXIX-TV (Channel 19) aired seven weather bulletins between 4 a.m. and its 6-9 a.m. news.

        Each station had something to boast about:

        • Channel 12: Only Channel 12 was commercial-free from dawn to 4 p.m. “I'm sure we threw away a lot of money,” Mr. Horstmeyer said.

        Mr. Horstmeyer early on declared it a F-4 tornado, which would mean winds from 207 to 260 mph. • Channel 9: Chopper 9 pilot Dale Williams provided the best aerial pictures — clear, concise and steady.

        Channel 9's Jay Shatz found perhaps the most compelling story, about a 10-month-old Montgomery baby who survived being thrown from his crib and across the house.

        • Channel 19: Less than an hour after the storm, Tristate viewers got their first look at damage at 6:10 a.m. from Channel 19 helicopter traffic reporter Dan Carroll.

        To cover the damage, the station broadcast more local news Friday than any day in the 51/2-year history of Channel 19 news, with more than an hour of special reports during the day.

        • Channel 5: Only Channel 5 had a trio of helicopters, one from Cincinnati, and others borrowed from Louisville and Columbus stations.

        Providing expertise from the field were News Director Lyn Tolan and General Manager Rick Rogala, who live in the damaged northeastern Hamilton County suburbs.

        • WLW-AM (700): Many of the first — and most graphic — damage reports came from listeners who called in immediately after the storm passed.

       



Hope emerges from the rubble
Sirens worked, but some slept through
Families flew from their beds
Bengals coach: 'God's hand on me'
Driver got upside-down trip on freeway median
Photographer encounters death, devastation
House is a cheap price to pay for life
Community safe, serene and vulnerable
In Addyston and Ripley County, some feel blessed just to be alive
Survivors eager to swap stories
Two died in field; two died on roads
Adjusters quick to arrive at disaster
To file a claim
Dealing with storm aftermath
Don't rush repairs after storm
Tips to picking a contractor
Kids need help to overcome grief, fears
Talking to kids
Phones, power out until Sunday
Rescue team did tough job
Storm could spur support for tax levy
Storms' memories linger after damage is repaired
Mobilization was instant
Tornado tales
- TV/radio stations had reason to boast
Volunteers grab chain saws, mops as workers untangle wires
At least 7 businesses destroyed
911 calls reveal confusion, fear