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As we publish this, Hurricane Delta is bearing down on the Louisiana coast — just six weeks after Hurricane Laura struck the same area with catastrophic impact and tested at least one newsroom’s grit and ingenuity to the limit.
When Laura was approaching southwest Louisiana in August, KPLC General Manager John Ware told his staff they were going to stay put and cover the storm. After all, that’s what the Gray station in Lake Charles had always done to serve its market, where viewers live just off the Gulf of Mexico and deal with lots of extreme weather. “I said, ‘We are going to stay here. We are going to fulfill our mission. We are going to tell the community what they have to do to stay safe,’” says Ware.
Fast-forward a few days: The hurricane was gaining power, forecasters were predicting a deadly storm surge, and it was all heading straight for Lake Charles. So, KPLC broke with tradition. “I don’t want to take credit for the decision to evacuate,” says Ware. “That was Greg. I was like, ‘No, we’re staying,’ and he convinced me otherwise. He showed me a way that it could happen — and it could be better.”
Greg DeBrosse is the station’s news director. Before the hurricane made landfall as a destructive Category Four storm — one of the strongest ever to hit Louisiana — he and his team developed a new coverage plan that helped them stay safe without sacrificing their critical service