You know it’s a bad sign when the governor stages a press conference for a walking disaster tour in your parking lot.
That’s what happened Dec. 12 when Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry spoke to media in Oklahoma Gazette‘s lot before embarking on a tour to survey destruction from an ice storm that left half a million Oklahoma residents without power. Local electric company officials stressed some would be powerless for a week to 10 days.
The Gazette lost electricity early on Monday, Dec. 10, just hours before the press day was scheduled to commence. Associate publisher Jeffri-Lynn Dyer coordinated backup power via a generator as scattered employees scrambled to rendezvous for a late-night press run. A skeleton crew burned the midnight oil to make the 4 am deadline at the printer.
“We were first in line for a rental but weren’t fully functional until nine hours later,” Dyer said. “We aren’t returning it, though. With the next storm coming, we might need it next press day!”
Coincidentally, power was restored to the Gazette around the time of the governor’s press conference. Local media covered the Dec. 12 tour of the historic Crown Heights neighborhood just north of the Gazette.
“This is a rare occurrence where Oklahoma City meteorologists actually under-hyped how bad the devastation would be,” editor Rob Collins said. “Some of our staff members are still without power after five days. We’re used to watching wall-to-wall coverage of sleet from our homes with the power on, but everyone was literally in the dark during the first wave.”
According to the latest forecast, a new storm is expected to bring two to four inches of snow heading into this weekend. The generator is on standby in the parking lot.