This Miami Newspaper Is Sheltering Reporters' Families While They Cover Hurricane Irma

"We told people if they had nowhere to go, to come here."

Reporters at the Miami Herald newspaper are weathering Hurricane Irma and bringing news to both Florida and the country. Meanwhile, as CNN's Oliver Darcy is reporting, the newsroom has also become a shelter for journalists' families and pets, as well as reporters from other outlets.

"We told people if they had nowhere to go, to come here," Rick Hirsch, the Herald's managing editor, told Darcy, who has been tweeting updates from the paper's headquarters. Hirsch added that the policy on bringing pets was "don't talk to me about it."


The Herald is located in the former headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command, and is therefore equipped with concrete walls, bulletproof windows, and 10 backup generators. It's worth noting that even the Southern Command's new headquarters next door was shut down before Irma made landfall in Florida, with the Herald reporting over the weekend that operations had shifted to an Arizona subsidiary.

The paper had past experiences with Hurricane Andrew in mind when choosing a new office building in 2013, as both Executive Director Aminda Marqués Gonzalez and Managing Editor Hirsch had "lost everything" in that storm. They aimed to find a building strong enough to continue reporting both digitally and in print in the event of another hurricane.

The Herald noted in its piece on the Southern Command's closure that the paper "was in full operation on Saturday." CNN reports that about 30 employees and their families sought shelter in the newsroom, with reporters continuing to work, even as sleeping bags, mattresses, and tents were strewn throughout the building.

It's been a relief for both the staff and their loved ones to have each other close by. "I think everybody is glad for the company," reporter Nick Nehamas told CNN. "It's nice to have people who are not reporters around to keep us sane."

Oliver noted on Twitter Saturday that everyone at the Herald has been "exceptionally nice" and "accommodating," and shared that reporters from the New York Times and NPR had also chosen to stay there, showing meaningful solidarity among journalists at a difficult and dangerous time.

According to Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, nearly three-quarters of people in the city are without power, and the city is working to secure collapsed construction cranes which snapped from the wind. Still, powerful stories have emerged from the storm, including an act of kindness by a shopper in Orlando, who gave up his generator to a woman whose father is on oxygen.

As we've already witnessed in the aftermath of Harvey in Texas, it's this kind of compassion that will help those affected by the storm get back on their feet.


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