WGNO-TV evacuates terrified staff from newsroom after Hurricane Ida blows roof off
METAIRIE, LOUISIANA: As Hurricane Ida raged throughout Sunday, August 29, Louisiana suffered massive destruction. Even though hurricane forecasters downgraded it to a tropical storm on Monday morning, Ida battered Louisiana, with reports of downed power lines, levee failures and flooding, collapsed buildings, and trapped residents on rooftops. One such example of destruction was the newsroom of WGNO-TV.
Ida weakened 16 hours after it made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane. But on Sunday, WGNO News, the Nexstar-owned ABC affiliate, received water and wind damage in its eighth floor Galleria studios located just off Interstate 10 and the Causeway in Metairie, Louisiana. The Galleria is a 29-story skyscraper on Galleria Boulevard, off of Causeway Boulevard. Three hotels and several apartment complexes are reportedly located in the area.
As per the channel’s official news report, “Around 5 pm, a portion of the 21-story fell on one of the station’s many broadcast satellite dishes. Just an hour later, ceiling tiles collapsed in multiple areas of the station due to the excessive weight and leaks caused by continuous pummeling from Ida.”
WGNO-TV reporter Kenny Lopez took viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the station to get a first-hand look at the damage. He showed the working conditions of the staff - working to make sure news remained uninterrupted for viewers who were looking to stations like it to keep them updated. Lopez tweeted, “While doing a report on damage, a piece of the building where WGNO Studios are flew off the building hitting one of our satellite dishes.”
While doing a report on damage, a piece of the building where WGNO Studios are flew off the building hitting one of our satellite dishes. Watch the report here: @WGNOtv @TVSpyNews @abcWNN @newsnation @GMA #lda #hurricaneIda #storm #louisiana #tvnewshttps://t.co/uERMVTngmy— Kenny Lopez (@KennyLopez_TV) August 30, 2021
Producers and directors at one point were also forced to evacuate their control room. Longtime journalist Susan Roesgen, who anchors at the television station, tweeted that Hurricane Ida had forced staffers out of the control area in the midst of live coverage. Roesgen wrote, “@WGNOtv producers and directors forced to leave control room during our live coverage- the ceiling has peeled away— we are in the Galleria in Metairie.”
@WGNOtv producers and directors forced to leave control room during our live coverage- the ceiling has peeled away— we are in the Galleria in Metairie— Susan Roesgen (@SusanRoesgen) August 30, 2021
WGNO reporter Chris Welty tweeted a video from inside the newsroom, showing the damage that Ida caused. In one video, Welty said, “Ceiling tiles are beginning to fall in our WGNO Newsroom. Multiple leaks and holes in our roof.” In another tweet, he said, “Portions of the WGNO roof is coming off,” sharing a photo of the section. Sefenech Henok, a WGNO anchor and reporter tweeted a video saying, “We are experiencing multiple leaks in our newsroom! We are safe and powering through for now!”
Ceiling tiles are beginning to fall in our WGNO Newsroom. Multiple leaks and holes in our roof. pic.twitter.com/uKnoULFajl— Chris Welty (@Chris_R_Welty) August 30, 2021
Portions of the WGNO roof is coming off. pic.twitter.com/TlN71XiVto— Chris Welty (@Chris_R_Welty) August 30, 2021
We are experiencing multiple leaks in our newsroom! We are safe and powering through for now! pic.twitter.com/FkNrQUyXYO— Sefenech Henok (@SefenechHenokTV) August 30, 2021
WGNO meteorologist Brooke Laizer tweeted, "Parts of the ceiling are coming down inside our @WGNOtv weather center with these wind speeds on eastern side of #Ida’s core! Now in Chief Meteorologist @HankAllenWX’s Pad Thai dinner, I imagine he is not pleased." Hank Allen, the chief meteorologist at WGNO tweeted a video, saying "You never think you want a hole in your building until hours of wall to wall coverage with no ac. Watch til the end." And another WGNO meteorologist Scot Pilié reported that one of the station's satellites got smashed.
Parts of the ceiling are coming down inside our @WGNOtv weather center with these wind speeds on eastern side of #Ida’s core! Now in Chief Meteorologist @HankAllenWX’s Pad Thai dinner, I imagine he is not pleased. @ScotPilie_Wx pic.twitter.com/ROLMbCsNKl— Brooke Laizer (@BrookeLaizer_Wx) August 30, 2021
One of our satellites just got smashed outside the galleria by falling siding/structural damage. 110-115mph gusts. @BrookeLaizer_Wx @Ginger_Zee @HankAllenWX #Ida #HurricaneIda pic.twitter.com/3mlc5j0UDZ— Scot Pilié (@ScotPilie_Wx) August 29, 2021
There have been no reports of injuries at the studio. The TV station's transmitter is reportedly located on East Josephine Street in Chalmette.