After we packed up all our vehicles at Alico Arena, we headed back to the Naples Daily News office so we could continue to cover Hurricane Wilma's aftermath. We stopped and took pictures of all sorts of damage — street lights hanging barely above the ground, flooded streets and parking lots, destroyed business signs — on the way back to the office.
We had been told our work ID badges would get us past the police blockades, but we were turned away at Airport Pulling and Golden Gate because the intersection was for emergency vehicles only. We turned south in an attempt to reach the office via US 41, but received phone calls from co-workers saying that they couldn't get past that blockade either. We decided to try it anyway, and fortunately both we and our co-workers who hadn't gotten through earlier were allowed to pass.
Once we arrived, we were told that the New Media building where the online team normally worked was unusable. There was only a bit of standing water in the building when we saw it, but apparently there was two feet of water at one point.
We moved all of our equipment out of the vehicles and into a small conference room on the second floor of the newsroom. It's a good thing we all get along because working in a room that's probably 12 feet by 20 feet with five or six other people isn't the friendliest of situations.
Once we got back up and running, we updated as many parts of our online Wilma coverage as possible, posting new photos, audio and video, making some layout changes so it was easier for our readers to find these pieces of content and slightly changing our homepage to remove content not related to the hurricane and another way to find readers' comments about Wilma.
It had been a long two days by the time we left after 10, but making sure our readers could find out about the hurricane and its effects — and more importantly, take part in this information dissemination — made the long hours well worth it.