Just before 5pm on Wednesday, the McBride Family-owned CBS affiliate led by GM Joe Schwartzel ceased broadcasts. It had no choice. A rising, raging tidal surge threatened to inundate the entire first floor of Fort Myers Broadcasting Company‘s WINK-TV and several radio stations housed in the facility. With no generator power and a studio that ended up ruined by several feet of floodwaters, staff rushed to the second floor and were eventually rescued at 3am Thursday, as fire and rescue were finally able to reach them while the floodwaters receded.
For a brief time, meteorologist Dylan Federico used social media to continue informing those in Southwest Florida about Ian’s wrath. Then that ended.
Finally, on Saturday afternoon, WINK-TV newscasts were back, albeit in a decidedly emergency fashion and on a different channel. It said a lot about the enormous recovery that lies ahead for Lee County, Fla., and for the company’s broadcast assets.