Essentials for Covering Hurricanes

Experienced storytellers give their suggestions on essentials to take with you while covering a hurricane in response to a question posted that comes up often. The advice in this list is not exhaustive, but it is a starting point. Thanks to the numerous people who gave their advice and are not named.

Keeping your gear dry is going to be important, and however you choose to do that normally, quadruple those efforts. As for yourself, I like to wear a rain suit, but I have buddies who just get wet. Either way hard soled shoes are a must, there is danger lurking in floodwater. You don’t want to step on something then I’ll tear your feet up. Have a hair dryer with you at all times, make sure you have an inverter in your vehicle that will run it. This will help you dry out your gear when needed. Don’t keep the air conditioner in your vehicle running, it’s tempting I know, but having your camera and a nice air-conditioned car and then moving it into that warm muggy hurricane weather, it will fog up and you will have condensation problems.

Never ever miss an opportunity to fuel your vehicle. If the gas station is open, it’s worth the stop.

Keep food and water with you as well, and a little bottle of something to take the edge off never hurts

Strongly suggest having a good paper map, if cell service goes out you may not be able to use the GPS on your phone.

SNACKS, water, change of clothes (changing socks and shoes is the most amazing feeling haha), and baby wipes. Those are always the staples in my bag

Dry Bag for your phone, with a earphone pass-through.

Ziploc those extra socks and clothes.

Granola bars, packs of crackers, beef jerky, whatever. Just have food on hand. And extra pairs of socks and shoes.

And a pillow. You never know where you’ll be able to catch a few Zzzz’s

Don’t laugh and be mean. But a couple of plain XL size condoms the fit over the mics to keep them dry. I also recommend swim goggles if the rain is swirling so is the salt water. It keeps your eyes clear.
The standard change of clothes and plenty of dry socks.
Richard Adkins knows what he is talking about.

Yeah, by the way, PLAIN NON-LUBRICATED, no reservoir condoms…. and make sure you have a wind screen to hide it. Yeah, like Barry Schultz says, goggles to keep the sand on debris out of your eyes.

If your shop can spare it, I always tried to take two cameras even if the second camera is older. You will likely get lens condensation at some point that a blow dryer can’t fix.I have had to create one working camera out of the working parts of two on a couple of occasions. Also I always found boots to be a waste of time. I wore swimming shoes with soles (and a swimsuit) unless the was tons of debris.

Harvey was my first and there were things I never would have thought of (and plenty I did, thankfully):
– Plastic covers for your car seats (otherwise, they get musty)
– About 10 small towels (to wipe your lens, clean up spills, mop up water)
– Rain pants/boots
– A bag of snacks: jerky, granola bars and water (you never know how long you will be stranded in the truck)
– Dry-fit clothing
– DO NOT wear jeans (they get ridiculously heavy when wet)
– A waterproof case and/or baggie to protect your phone
– A blow dryer (to defog your lens)

The most important decision you make will be your live location. Shelter yourself from the wind by knowing which direction the wind will come from when it starts and the 180 degree switch it will make on the backside.

For clothes: all quick drying synthetics. No cotton. If I’m on the beach during the thick of it and not moving much, I often wear water shoes because my feet are going to get soaked anyway… but if I’m moving at all, the waterproof boots go on. Too much dangerous stuff to step on. If you have a raincoat or two with DWR (Patagonia, marmot etc) test the waterproofing now and refresh it if necessary. Plenty of ziploc bags in different sizes. Quick drying pack towels. I have waterproof beach bags for my phone and iPad. They have good ones on Amazon but a ziploc is fine too. The wirecutter has good suggestions for outdoor gear.

Some great suggestions here. Don’t forget cash – when all power and comms are out your credit cards won’t get you very far. And backups for your backup gear. You’ll need them around day three after landfall.

Find a parking garage!

Most touch devices, phones or tablets, work through ziplock bags.

First thing is to think about your safety. Don’t let that reporter drag you out into the heart of the storm so he or she can do a live shot yelling into the microphone holding Anemometer. Get your own food, extra gas can, case of water, weather gear and a GoPro to stick out in the rain. Keep the big camera dry. I can’t stress that enough. Your lens will thank you. But again think about your safety first.

This pouch for my phone was a lifesaver during Harvey:

Clear trash bags for covering your camera, LED lights, monitor, etc. Turkey roasting bags can handle some heat if you are using hot lights.

Toilet paper because…

Dog tags….for you and your gear. High force Wind can rip gear right out of your grip…..make sure its marked. Keep your wallet in zip lock….memorize your medical card just in case. If you wear any glasses make sure they are teathered to you. Good waterproof flash lights are a must as well. No shot us worth your life….buddy up….no mmj heroics please.

You cannot have enough non perishable food!!! I lost power for five days during Matthew but was luckily able to make it to and from the station every day. We ran out of food there early on. Buy what you think you’ll need then double that amount.

Good list. Haven’t seen fixaflat. Usually lots of roofing nails and other things around that can puncture a tire. I used to carry one per tire. Better safe than sorry.

This is an email we sent back to our crews from Houston …..

A couple of the photographers getting ready to travel to Houston asked me to share the “Necessities” and “Problems” we faced while providing coverage down here in Houston.

Top 3


This by far is a necessary evil to our cameras. While Reece and I would have loved to have AC running in our unit, we actually made the decision to “leave the AC turned off.” So, for 6 days we did not run the AC while driving around. I can’t tell you how much that saved the camera’s from fogging up as well as humidity levels affecting the lenses. It wasn’t until day 6 that we encountered our first issues and I’d have to say that’s pretty good. Our issues though we’re resolved in a short amount of time given our AC restrictions being implemented.


Gas stations were finding either have gas with little selection and only premium being left or some stations that have all pumps and tanks working and full. Just look for the yellow, red or white bags on the handles if they don’t work. I used the normal corporate card and not the gas card to buy gas if they didn’t accept our fleet gas card. Take a picture of the final sale if no receipt is provided. You can buy gas cans and fill them and tie them down on top of your unit but keep in mind they may not fit in the parking garage. Buy a good lock to lock them to the top of your unit.


Imagine being coop’d up in your house for 6 days and now your ready to get out because they say some of the roads are opening up. When you combine that with those trying to get to their flooded home as well as additional rescue personal the traffic is picking up. This while many roads are still closed or blocked off leaving all that traffic being forced to navigate one giant maze of twists and turn that can be bottled necked into just a two-lane road. Bottom line, give your self extra time and be realistic with how long it might take you to get around. One example, today we drove an extra 20 minutes out of our way to go to a location that was much closer (just 5mins) if we could’ve just taken that right turn off that frontage rd which was blocked due to high water.

Finally, trash bags, ziplock bags, tie wraps and additional rain gear is a must. We both have our rubber boots, waders, purell, cooler with your favorite goodies, water, Gatorade and so on. Beef jerky is your friend!

We worked from our hotel or unit every day and only called in for assignments. We just stayed mobile!

Cigarette lighter plugs in the form of 3-1 can be bought at any truck stop. Towels for drying off your camera and gear a plus. We just bored extra from the hotel.

Bring cash!!!!

Bring a long SDI cable as well as extra short ones. They saved us countless times and I’ve burned through 2-small SDI cables and rebuilt the cabling on the POD as well just to keep going.

Lastly, be ready to throw out some of your clothes and shoes. I’m on my final pairs of shoes after throwing some out. I’ve thrown some of my clothes away too! Nasty stuff!

I’d agree with most everything here. I’d add grabbing various sizes of ziplock bags. Your thumb print biometrics works through it. Also grab a blue-tooth ear piece. That works wonders and you do not want to risk getting your cellphone wet.

Grab a Satellite phone if available. Cell towers go pretty quick.

If you have an old school GPS, Garmin, Tomtom that will help too.

Grab a bunch of lent free towels to help wipe your lens.

Get some gorilla tape to help tie down necessary items.

A pair of Ski goggles are helpful for you to be able to see as well.

Get pocket knife or leather man. That always comes in handy for many reasons.

Stay safe do not let your reporters drag you into danger. If they want the blowing in the wind shot remind them they need to be able to see what’s coming. If they can’t it’s not worth the shot.

Park your car DIRECTLY into the wind. Set up under the hatch door of your SUV. Have your reporter stand directly behind the hatch so the car protects them and you. At the end of the day it is you and the reporter that is the important thing, not the risk.

NBC crew had a great idea during Ike. They put the photographer in the back of the SUV with hatch open. Kept the camera and photographer nice and dry. They used nice HMI lights that resisted water. It worked very well. Remember if you open your car door with the winds it will bend it forward. It happened to me during Ike.

Zip lock bags. Use desiccant packages to keep electronics dry. Once sealed don’t open them. Hair dryer and two sets of everything switch out every two hours or so drying them in between