Ike's Hit on Houston PBS

Hurricane Ike sidelined Houston PBS. Rod Rice reports that the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting lost part of its roof and KUHT-Channel 8 has suffered significant water damage.
image of PBS's roof
"We're really out of operation in terms of our studio, for who knows how long, probably several months at least."

John Hesse is channel 8's general manger. He rode out the storm at the Melcher Center and spent the night working to plug leaks.

"For part of the night we were down here in the scene shop trying to push the water back that was coming in our big scene shop garage door. That was only about a third of the way into the shop at that point, so we figured okay we're not going to make any progress there, that's not too bad, so we let that go."

And there wasn't anything that could be done about water that hurricane winds pushed through windows throughout the building. That damage left a lot of carpeting and dry wall that must be replaced. But the real problems began about three Saturday morning.

"We lost a piece of flashing on our roof that covers the area where our studios and scene shop are, and once that flashing went, the wind just got under the roof membrane and just ripped it back like a bed sheet."

Hours after the rain had stopped a waterfall of rain was still cascading into the scene shop, an inch of water covered the floor of the smaller studio and water was leaking into the main studio .

As Hesse and others try to calculate how much damage was done to the public television station large fans and larger dehumidifiers roar throughout the building.

In the studio workers begin the intricate task of taking down the myriad of lights, circuits, sound proofing and the systems that hold them two stories above the floor.

Houston PBS was about to begin almost weekly political debates up to the November elections. They are now in jeopardy. Hesse says the debate between U.S. Senate candidates John Cornyn and Rick Noriega may be saved.

"We're talking with channel 11 to possibly work out of their studios for that one since we have to feed that one state wide."

And it's all because Ike found a weakness in one seemingly minor thing.

"If it wasn't for that one little piece of flashing we would have come through, actually pretty good."



If the embedded video doesn't play, you can access it here: IkeAfterAffects.wmv
Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...