August 30, 2005
WWL-TV New Orleans Hurricane Update
While the situation in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina remains extremely serious, challenging and uncertain, we are able to report the following:
- The WWL-TV facilities in the French Quarter on Rampart Street were evacuated Sunday night around midnight. Station personnel on the premises at that time relocated to the Hyatt hotel in downtown New Orleans to await Hurricane Katrina's arrival early Monday morning.
- WWL-TV and NewsWatch on Channel 15 employees are safe and we have received no reports of serious injury. Several employees have had their homes severely damaged or destroyed. At this point, we don't know the full extent of the damage either to the station itself or to the homes of our colleagues.
- WWL-TV has remained on the air "live" during the entire crisis, except for a few hours between midnight and dawn on Monday, something no other station in the market has been able to do.
- Station personnel have demonstrated their incredible commitment to serving the New Orleans community by overcoming extraordinary operational and personal challenges to continue broadcasting. Logistics and local communications are two of the most immediate challenges. Employees from Belo locations around the country have stepped in to help get the job done.
- WWL-TV has been broadcasting from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge as our back-up location since Sunday evening. With assistance from other Belo colleagues, the WWL-TV team made advance arrangements to originate studio broadcasts from LSU if they had to evacuate WWL-TV's French Quarter facilities on Rampart Street.
- The facilities on Rampart Street were flooded Tuesday morning.
- A task force in Dallas is already working on short and long-term issues related to the stations' broadcasting capabilities, as well as personnel needs.
- We will provide additional information shortly about providing assistance through the Red Cross. We will also be establishing an employee fund so that we can aid our WWL-TV and NewsWatch on Channel 15 colleagues in New Orleans directly.
- Please refrain from trying to contact any station personnel directly unless you have been asked to do so due to the limited telecommunications service that is available in the area.
- As we learn more about our people, our station and the overall situation, we will update you. While we cannot answer everyone's questions at this stage, we can confirm proudly that the WWL-TV team, with support from Belo colleagues all over the country, is performing a Herculean service in providing round-the-clock news coverage in the wake of this disastrous hurricane. Thanks to everyone at WWL-TV.