Rob Marciano, “Good Morning America” meteorologist, returned to Lake Charles Thursday to shine a spotlight on the devastation Hurricanes Laura and Delta have wreaked upon Southwest Louisiana. A former KPLC meteorologist, Marciano said he’s been back to the region frequently, often under tragic circumstances, to cover weather-related disasters like Hurricanes Rita, Laura and Delta.
Marciano and Robin Roberts, a co-anchor of the national morning show, did the broadcast from St. Louis High School on Thursday morning.
“The hurricanes have come with a vengeance these last 15 years and it just breaks my heart,” Marciano said.
Hurricane Laura stands out among his experiences because of the magnitude of the storm’s impact. “I’ve never seen hurricane damage to a city like I’ve seen here in Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura,” he said.
“That storm came in with 140 mile plus winds and literally ripped this town apart. Literally, not one building went without damage.”
Typically, a hurricane of Laura’s scale would remain in the national media’s attention for weeks regardless of its landfall location, he said. “But with this year you’ve got a pandemic, a crazy presidential election and those things are constantly pushing other news, important news, out of the way.”
Marciano said he understands why residents may have felt forgotten or unheard during these past two months. Competing voices and the storm’s timing have both played a role in the lacking coverage, he said.
“Laura hit towards the weekend, which for a news cycle is never that good. It gets kind of run through the weekend and by the time Monday rolls around something has happened in politics or the pandemic and they move on.”
Personally frustrated by the situation and motivated by his personal ties to the region, he brought up Southwest Louisiana’s plight to Good Morning America executives. “I said to my bosses, ‘We need to do what GMA does which is go in, shine a light on the heroes and get a partner to give money and supplies to help these people get back on their feet and get America behind this.’ ’’
His suggestion was greeted with a plan already in the works to thrust Southwest Louisiana into Thursday’s spotlight. “As much as people here feel forgotten, know that they’re discussed and thought about everyday in newsrooms,” he said.
“It’s just the dynamics are delicate and difficult as far as what goes on and what doesn’t.”
Good Morning America’s ability to share the region’s story with the rest of the nation is part of the “power of journalism which goes beyond just information,” he said.
“Journalism can become an indirect advocate by shining a light on disasters, the people that are doing good things within those disasters and inspiring the Americans that read and see that stuff to give themselves to it. Journalism is more important now than ever.”