Some of those who stayed in Florida during Hurricane Irma were doing so because it's their duty.
Our FOX family station in Fort Myers was evacuated as it was in the area right where Hurricane Irma hit Sunday afternoon. But it didn’t stop crews from getting life-saving information out.
Emergency and media were all staged in an Emergency Operations Center in Naples during the massive storm. The building was constructed to withstand a category five hurricane.
One of those who was inside that EOC waiting out the storm was a former Austinite and FOX 7 photojournalist for many years. While working 12 hour shifts, Lyle McCartee kept to Facebook to keep friends and family updated “I am safe, I am at the Emergency Operations Center in Naples, which is basically where the storm is making landfall,” he said in a Facebook post.
McCartee was getting a quick look outside before Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday afternoon right in the area he's working, He know is a FOX 4 photojournalist in Fort Myer and said emergency officials and media crews were working around the clock to help Floridians get through the massive storm.
We spoke with McCartee over the phone right when Irma was making land fall, “Because the hurricane and the conditions are constantly changing, so too are the circumstances,” he said.
McCartee is no stranger to covering hurricanes for the news, working in Austin for more than 16 years, - he helped with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and Rita.
“It's kind of hard because you have to prepare personally but you have to keep in mind you have job to do where everybody is kind of fleeing out of the state.”
This time he's covering the storm from the beginning and during, “Everything is blowing sideways, just as you would expect from a hurricane. They have evacuated the bottom floor because some water is coming in now. There's water seeping in from the door handle.” The in between, “A weird calm right now, and I believe we are actually inside the eye.”
He will also be there for the end and aftermath, “The biggest fear here is what they call a storm surge, that's really whenever a hurricane happens that's most potential for property damage and even loss of life.”
He said the storm surge where he's at in Naples, they are expecting it to be anywhere from eight to 15 feet. But emergency and news crews were ready to help keep the community safe.
“People have all called us crazy journalists when we are out in this covering it. But I see it as we are providing a service to the communities that we report about and provide coverage for.”
McCartee said to stay on air they were producing their shows in Tampa and transmitting them out of Detroit as they were getting through the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.