WAFB’s dramatic video, shot by reporter Robbie Reynold, of a man rescuing a woman and her dog from a submerged car was the most engaged post on Facebook in the world on Saturday and Sunday, according to Robb Hays, news director of the Raycom-owned CBS affiliate in Baton Rouge, La.
Dramatic water rescue in Baton Rouge
A dramatic moment captured by WAFB's Robbie Reynold. This is one of thousands of rescues that have been conducted over the last 24-hours. For more in East Baton Rouge Parish >> http://bit.ly/2aT3RM7
Posted by WAFB Channel 9 on Saturday, August 13, 2016
Hays says the rain and flooding began Friday morning when a flash flood warning on his phone woke him at 6 a.m.
He went to the station and it has been in continuous coverage of the flood for much of the past four days, just as I’m sure many of the other TV stations have been in the all of the affected flooded areas of southern Louisiana.
The flooding is epic, says Hays. Hundreds of people were stranded in their cars and trucks on Interstate 12 for up to 24 hours. Most of them have been rescued leaving behind hundreds of abandoned vehicles on the interstate.
WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports
In a phone interview Monday afternoon, an exhausted Hays said news crews with backpack technology able to go live from the scene are arriving from other Raycom stations in nearby markets to help with flood coverage.
“These are people ready to report and are immediately off and out the door, in boats ready to go live with their reports,” said Hays. Nine have arrived so far with another 10 on their way.
Hays mentions a live Facebook report by Liz Koh, a WAFB reporter/producer. Hays says at one point in the live feed, the team on the boat spots an abandoned dog sitting on the steps of a house surrounded by water. When the team rescues the dog and brings it on the boat, there wasn’t a dry eye in the newsroom, he said.
(To see the part where the team spots and rescues the dog, scroll through to about the 13 minute mark.)
Joining rescue crews on boat in St Amant
Posted by Liz Koh WAFB on Monday, August 15, 2016
In the rescue video shot by Robbie Reynold, a WAFB reporter, the woman can be heard yelling, “Oh my God, I’m drowning,” from inside the car as it began to submerge completely under the water.
I talked to Robbie Reynold Monday evening as he was in the field monitoring flood waters in the Iberville Parish area of Baton Rouge.
Reynold says he started working at WAFB in March, and since then there have been some major stories he’s had to cover in the city. He cited the shooting of Alton Sterling followed by the shooting deaths of three area police officers.
“So I think I’ve gotten a great idea about the duty of a television journalist here but I’ve never been involved in a story like this flooding.”
Reynold says he’s aware that the public rely on local TV for information, as he’s getting stopped all the time by people asking him what he knows about the flooded areas and where they can get help.
“People are always telling me, I’m watching your station, watching your report. It’s amazing, I never felt that kind of duty before as a journalist. It’s pretty incredible.”
Reynold says his news director told him to join David Phung and Jason Dixon, who were in a boat and going out and helping people.
“They’re just civilians, volunteers helping out.”
Phung is a brother-in-law of a news producer at WAFB.
Reynold says they were in the boat and he was recording on his camera when they saw the red car.
“When we saw her driving toward us, Jason and David were trying to pull her over, because they knew she wasn’t going to make it through the water, but she didn’t stop.”
“I pretty much rolled this entire time. As we approached the car, we couldn’t tell if she had already gotten out of it. But then we heard her yelling that she was still in the car, and I was just rolling, I was looking around for something I could grab to help him out, and that’s kind of when things got bad and David jumped in the water. He did that on his own.”
HE'S A HERO! David Phung, the man who rescued a woman and her dog from a sinking car in Louisiana, talks about what happened moments before he pulled them out. VIDEO OF RESCUE–>http://bit.ly/2aURc8b
Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Monday, August 15, 2016
Reynold says the woman and her dog are recovering and doing well.
When I ask Reynold about how his video has brought the world’s eyes to the flodding situation there, he said, “I’m glad I could share that moment with David.”
As to Phung, is he aware of the attention it has brought on him?
“He hasn’t realized the magnitude of it yet. He’s busy helping his family and other families with the flooding, he’s been so caught up in that. I’m not sure he’s even aware of the acclaim.”