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FCC Triggers Disaster Reporting System for Hurricane Harvey

The FCC has deployed its Disaster Information Reporting System and deployed people to Texas as Hurricane Harvey bears down on the Texas coastline. Meanwhile, media outlets are preparing to cover the landfall and aftermath.

The DIRS system was also activated in October for Hurricane Matthew.

DIRS is a web-based system via which broadcasters, cable operators and others can report the status of their communications capabilities and "situational awareness."

"These actions will enable us to monitor the extent of communications outages and, working with industry and government partners, support restoration efforts," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The FCC also supplied first responders and first informers—broadcasters and cable—with emergency contact information. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those on the Gulf Coast, and we urge residents of the affected areas to take shelter and other necessary precautions."

The FCC will be open 24/7 through the weekend for broadcasters, cable and satellite providers, wireless, and wired operators, emergency response managers and first responders who need help in staying up and running or getting back on. Contact the operations center at 202-418-1122 or email

Counties targeted for the activation:

Louisiana: Acadia, Assumption, Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne, Vermilion.

Texas: Aransas, Atascosa, Bee, Brazoria, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Duval, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Harris, Hidalgo, Jackson, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kenedy, Kleberg, Lavaca, Liberty, Live Oak, Matagorda, McMullen, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Wharton, Willacy, Wilson.

T-Mobile told B&C that it was helping customers stay connected with loved ones threatened by the storm. From Aug. 25 to Sept. 1, T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers in the path of the storm will get free calling, including prepaid customers.

ABC said there would be special coverage of the storm on World News Tonight and Nightline, then a special report at 2 a.m. anchored by Nightline's Juju Chang.

Coverage will continue on with a 5 a.m. report from the Good Morning America team, then a special edition at 7 a.m.

Gloria Riviera, Mary Bruce and David Kerley will cover the Federal Response from Washington.

"This storm will likely be very destructive for several days," the White House said. "The President encourages people in the path of this dangerous storm to heed the advice and orders of their local and State officials. The President’s highest priority is the safety of the public and of first responders. 

"Those who ignore evacuation orders could be putting both themselves and first responders in danger. We encourage all Americans in the affected areas to be prepared, including by visiting, which provides preparedness plans and important links to information."

NBC News will air a special report at 8:50 Friday night, then again at 6 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 1:20 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Gadi Schwartz will report from Galveston for “Stay Tuned,” NBC News’ Snapchat show.

NBC News and MSNBC said they also have numerous correspondents on the ground covering the storm: Gabe Gutierrez, Maya Rodriguez and Catie Beck are reporting from Corpus Christi, where the hurricane is expected to make landfall, as is Dr. John Torres with medical units and EMS teams; Kerry Sanders is in Port Lavaca; Joe Fryer is reporting from Galveston; and Jacob Rascon and Stephanie Gosk from Houston.

Fox News’ Happening Now co-anchor Jon Scott will anchor live coverage Friday night at 11 p.m.-2 a.m.  Correspondents Steve Harrigan, Casey Stegall, Matt Finn and Fox & Friends First co-host Rob Schmitt will report on the ground in Texas. Fox and Friends Weekend will began an hour earlier at 5 a.m. Saturday.

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.