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Hurricane Katrina 10 Years Later - The Northwest Responds

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, many are looking back at how people rallied around each other at that time, at how recovery has been difficult and uneven but at times triumphant, at how the storied city of New Orleans has rediscovered its rhythm.

The people of the Pacific Northwest may be thousands of miles away, but were quick to send help to the victims of Katrina. When the Bush Administration struggled to address the scale of the crisis, people from across the country and around the world answered the call to action.

Here at home, architects and engineers, medical professionals and general volunteers lined up and boarded flights to the Gulf Coast. National Guard troops and aircraft support from Washington state added to the civilian effort. Vancouver, BC sent their Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Team on its first deployment outside of Canada along with many other, grassroots efforts. The Pacific Northwest also welcomed many evacuees as new neighbors, and significant efforts were made to collect contributions to fund the response and recovery.

One of those efforts was made here at KCTS 9 in a unique collaboration with KOMO 4. On September 6, 2005, KCTS and KOMO co-hosted and simulcasted a 90-minute telethon, with co-anchors Enrique Cerna from KCTS and the late Kathi Goertzen from KOMO. Staff from both stations answered phones, including KOMO weather anchor Steve Pool and then sports director Eric Johnson. On-air at KOMO, former anchor Dan Lewis introduced the broadcast.

"Two diverse stations, public and commercial, came together quickly in response to Katrina. We worked together for an important cause and the people of Western Washington responded," said Cerna, now Director of Community Partnership at KCTS 9.

The telethon raised over $183,000 for the Red Cross, who had also sent representatives to appear in the telethon. Stephen Hegg, Content Production Manager and Executive Producer at KCTS 9 was there, too, and shares how the program came together, below this slideshow:

Special guests shown above included former Governor Dan Evans and Nancy Evans, former King County Executive Ron Sims, former Mayor Norm Rice and Dr. Constance Rice, members of the Washington Air National Guard, and Michael Jackson of the Seattle Seahawks and All-Centennial Football Team at the University of Washington, who had family in Louisiana. Other special guests with Gulf Coast connections included then University of Washington president Mark Emmert, who was a recent past president of Louisiana State University.

"I remember watching the devastation on TV with Enrique, and we thought 'we need to go on-air with a program that can help the victims of Katrina.' But what?" Hegg said.

"Several of us simultaneously had the idea to use our pledge phone system, airwaves and studio to raise money for the Red Cross. One problem: FCC rules prevent public stations from using their airwaves to raise funds for anything but the station. We applied for a one-time waiver and it was granted quickly. KOMO 4 jumped on-board immediately as a partner to jointly broadcast a telethon that would be co-hosted by Enrique and Kathi Goertzen. Unbeknownst to us at the time, Kathi had discovered just days before that the meningioma tumor on her brain had recurred. But she was all in."

Marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the PBS NewsHour has presented a collection of in-depth reports, Katrina 10 Years Later, covering topics such as safety, healthcare, and the Ninth Ward today. See also the extensive archive of Katrina coverage from PBS.

Katrina 10 years after

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