I started with Ch. 8 on April 3, 1978. I went on air for the 1st time on April 10th. 3 Weeks later, the 1st of our “hundred year floods” hit swamping vehicles & flooding homes. I remember driving into Ch. 8 on Airline Highway (Drive now) which I thought was high ground. No problems until I passed the Swegmann’s at Labarre Road where the water started to cover up the road. I moved to the farthest left lane and it was bumper to bumper traffic all the way past Metairie Country Club into Orleans Parish. An RTA bus came roaring by pushing a wake of water into our line of cars. Cars began stalling out and I knew mine would be next so I drove it up onto the cement median to keep it out of the water. The lightning & rains were tremendous. I was still a mile from Ch. 8 so I decided to wade to the Texaco station (ain’t dere no more) to use the phone. (no cell phone back then). Ch. 8 said all their vehicles were stalled too and try to get in best way I could. I went back to the car and took off my shirt & tie and got into a t-shirt & shorts and began the mile long trek along the railroad tracks. Lightning was crackling all over and here I was holding an umbrella and my dress clothes trying to get to work. Finally, I made it and quickly got on-air to report what was going on. Back then we had no tower cams, no live radar, no live trucks just primitive TV. Our news director (the late Alec Gifford) knew we needed pictures to show the story so he got the engineers to move one of the studio cameras thru the lobby and out on to Euphrosine Street which was covered in several feet of water. He told me…” Breck, take off your shoes and get onto that car and start talking about what you are seeing”. I said sure Alec, and with my umbrella, jumped on to a car with water up to its bumpers. It turned out to be great TV as we now were able to show pictures of the flooding. Only later did I think how foolish I was getting on a metal car, holding an umbrella with a metal handle in one hand and a microphone with its wire draped back thru the flood waters into the station. I was an electrocution waiting to happen with all the lightning popping. What fun times they were. 1995 brought an even greater flood but the technology was so much better with radar and satellite loops & live trucks.
So here we are again on May 3rd and back are the May floods. Fortunately, the weather pattern is progressive and won’t stall so the rain totals will be far less. People now have cell phones with cameras and there are all the social media outlets to post pictures. Communications are so much better now. Weather warnings are instantly sent to cell phone apps and no one should be caught off guard not knowing what’s coming. I marvel watching David on VIPIR able to indicate which rain storms are severe and which ones are not. Looking back on nearly 40 years and I’d say…we’ve come a long way baby. Several more lines of storms are coming but after 2-3 AM, things will settle down. Stay safe and keep your cell phone nearby as you go to sleep.