A business reporter talks about covering Hurricane Harvey
Jeff Flock joined Fox Business Network as a Chicago-based reporter in September 2007.
Prior to Fox Business, Flock was the managing editor and anchor of Hurricane Now LLC, a website specializing in hurricane coverage in the United States.
Flock spent 24 years at CNN, beginning in 1980 when he helped launch the network and its first newscast. His last 19 years at CNN, ending in 2004, were as the Chicago bureau chief and correspondent, where he managed coverage of the Midwestern region and helped report on some of this nation’s most compelling stories.
He received several awards for his work there, including a George Foster Peabody Award for the network’s coverage of the Gulf War, and an Emmy in 1996 for coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Flock received a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcast journalism from Boston University.
Flock has been covering Hurricane Harvey in Texas. He spoke by email with Talking Biz News about his experience. What follows is an edited transcript.
Why did Fox Business decide to send you to Houston?
I’ve covered every major hurricane to hit the U.S. since 1988. And I can say the scope of this tragedy rivals all the others. While the focus has been on the people in harm’s way so far, it is certainly also a story for our business audience with the impact on oil and gas drilling and refining as well as the overall economy.
What have been some of the difficulties that you have faced in covering stories?
Mostly the weather and logistics. Getting around Houston with so many high water locations has been a challenge. Fortunately, Fox Business and Fox News has multiple crews and reporters on the ground.
How hard has it been to find sources to talk to you?
The victims of this hurricane and flood have been remarkably willing to talk about their experiences. We had an incredible day of transmitting live pictures and stories of the rescues taking place in Houston on Tuesday. I am very grateful to those for being open to telling their stories live on Fox Business and Fox News. I like to think those who have experienced tragedy get as much from sharing with us as we as a society do from hearing their stories.
How have you been getting around? Or are you staying in one place?
Given the technology we now have which enables live broadcasts without cumbersome live trucks and cables our coverage plan involves multiple moves through the day, reacting to developments in the story. When for example water began to be released from swelling reservoirs, we went right there to watch and then moved to the neighborhoods which were being flooded as a result.
Beside oil, what other industries are being hard hit?
At this point every industry in Houston has been impacted. People can’t get around; most can’t go to work.
Is there any story you did for Hurricane Now that you covered that has prepared you for this?
We report live pretty much every hour. As mentioned I’ve been covering hurricanes for more than 30 years first at CNN and then the dot-com I helped found, Hurricane Now. My first memory as a child was hurricane Donna which hit the New Jersey coast in 1960. I’ve never properly invested in the therapy that would explain my fascination with storms. ;-)
When I covered Hurricane Andrew, my biggest issue was the blown away street signs. What has been surprising for you?
The breadth of the flooding has been most striking. Katrina floods were bad but largely confined. Most hurricanes produce flooding mainly as the result of storm surge and then go away quickly. This flooding promises to be here in some areas for weeks.
Have you seen some business stories that you think are being undercovered so far?
So far the focus is as it should be on people and their safety. As we move forward I think we’ll see more on the impact of this weather event on energy prices and the economy but frankly I think we’ve done a pretty good job of covering that so far already.
How long do you plan to stay?
As long as we keep seeing developments that warrant. Right now we’re sadly still in the survival phase and not yet in cleanup or recovery.