WCCO’s Debbie Ely reporting live from the scene of flash flooding in Minneapolis, literally in standing water with a photographer on the night of the 1987 Twin Cities Super Storm.
From Debbie:
Just had a chance to look at the video. Realized that this must have been a videotape from master control, as there is a lot of chatter back-and-forth between the live shot location and the station (that didn’t get on the air).

I recall the day just as if it happened yesterday. I was home and the storm started to kick up. Called the assignment desk and asked if they needed help. Of course, the answer was a resounding “yes, get in here.” Driving in the air was thick and the sky was this icky pea green/black color. The minute I walked in, photographer Dick Nordling and I paired up with a live truck. The engineer, Tim McNeill, maneuvered the truck down old highway 12 and parked it as close (as reasonably possible) to the rising water. Tim quickly got the live truck mast up; Dick wrapped the camera in a plastic protector, and I visited with police and bystanders.

I must admit that it got a little scary when I started to see lightning in the distance. Here we were in the middle of highway 12 — three human lightning rods. Well, actually there were a couple others. Kevyn Berger and a crew from KSTP were to the left of me — so make that six human lightning rods.

We got through the live shot at 10 p.m., then it was off to Southdale, where water was flooding the lower level of JC Penney and other stores in the mall. Dick and I stayed up all night long going from location to location to shoot the flooding and conduct interviews. I did live shots for the morning news, noon news and early evening news casts. Then, after almost 40 hours of no sleep, I went home and crashed!

Ahhh, the memories!

Credit: Deborah Ely-Lawrence


Tim McNeill: I was the one that put this live shot together. Debbie was trying to give information about things back to the conrol room. What a night. Deb was a real pro. I was in the Live Truck damn near naked because, everything I touched I got a hell of a shock.

Nancy SooHoo: I remember shooting this live shot!!! My light belt was giving me an interesting buzzing sensation from all the water. Both of us were sopping wet, but Debbie pulled through like the trooper she was!

John Paulson: Was this before or after the Tornado Warnings early in the evening for the metro area. I also remember that on Monday night 7-20 there was severe weather in the south metro that did some damage at the Burnsville Center




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