Houston Reporter Stays On Air, Saves Man’s Life As Her Newsroom Floods

Local stations are risking it all to keep communities safe during Hurricane Harvey.

When regional events become national news, it is often local reporters who are the first to arrive and the last to leave the scene.


As Hurricane Harvey continues to batter Texas with high winds and record flooding, news teams out of the Houston area are hailing trucks, boats or whatever will get them to the story — even as their own newsrooms flood.

KHOU 11 News reporter Brandi Smith and photographer Mario Sandoval were covering the flooding in Houston on Beltway 8 Sunday when communication between the team and the newsroom was cut as those in the newsroom were forced to evacuate. Smith took on the broadcast solo and directed attention to a semi truck driver that Sandoval had noticed earlier was trapped in his cab below where the two were standing. 

When Harris County sheriff's deputies happened to be driving by, Smith flagged down the car and directed them to the trapped driver. The deputies pulled over and used a highway on ramp to lower an airboat into the rising waters. 

Smith and Sandoval's broadcast was cut before the sheriff's deputies were able to make it to the truck driver, but Smith shared the full video of the rescue on her Facebook page later. 

Other journalists put their responsibilities on hold to save people trapped in their homes. HuffPost's David Lohr and CNN's Ed Lavendera both participated in boat rescues.

Meanwhile, news outlets throughout Texas continued their work despite worsening conditions in the field to ensure that viewers had access to up-to-date safety information. They also retweeted requests for help as citizens with boats and large trucks mobilized to rescue residents that couldn't get in touch with the authorities. Local emergency lines were overwhelmed for much of the day.

"Nothing is more valuable than your life and the lives of your family members, those you love, your friends," Smith said in her solo broadcast. "Sometimes we get flak because, yes, we are out in it. We are doing the things we are telling you not to do. We do it so that we can show you how bad the conditions are so you do not attempt them."


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