9.17.2020 – Hurricane Sally

Hurricane Sally
Rained all night, rained all day, please
Sally go away

I remember back in the early days of online news, we would have lengthy conference calls with the web teams from multiple TV stations to discuss issues and latest options for online news.

It seems like a good deal of our conversations were about online school closings.

I have a very clear memory of the first fall WZZM13 had a website and I was told that the station needed a way to post school closings online.

I had been in news just long enough (the station website had launched in July) to know what questions to ask.

Who?

YOU!

What?

List of all schools closed by weather!

Where?

Online!

When?

Tonight!

Why?

It’s what we do here!

How?

That’s why we hired you!

So I got to work and repurposed my High School Football Scoreboard so that school names and closing information could be added and posted online.

It was just a simple write to text file.

Someone had to type in names and hit upload.

It wasn’t great but it worked.

And I knew we had to do better.

The newsroom wanted bells, whistles, times, dates and most importantly, a way for someone else to enter the information.

A system were school administrators could log in and enter information was develped.

And whenever those people entered information like School & Events Cancelled, or School Support Team # 2, was entered those & and # symbols crashed the system.

But we learned.

All the web teams at all the stations learned.

And we all talked about it on our calls.

At least the people who worked up North.

I remember how the web people who worked in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida all laughed at us.

WINTER STORMS?

SNOW?

SCHOOL CLOSINGS?

They claimed they never used them.

They claimed they didn’t need to.

They claimed that if winter was bad enough, people in the South were smart enough to stay home.

A few months later the first Hurricane Season hit.

Then those people all screamed for school closing tools.

A few years later we moved south.

The first fall we lived in Georgia it started to rain on Labor Day and it seemed to rain until Halloween.

The local lakes that experts said wouldn’t fill up for 20 years filled up and overflowed in 20 days.

My wife called me at work.

Did you know, she asked, they close school down here because … of RAIN?

I did.

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