10 Years After Katrina, NAB Reviews How to Be Prepared - Radio Magazine

10 Years After Katrina, NAB Reviews How to Be Prepared

When Joseph Pollet, director of engineering for Entercom New Orleans, spoke at NAB 10 years ago to discuss how broadcast stations should prepare for hurricanes, no one knew that just five months later the methods that he preached would be put to the test
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ALEXANDRIA, Va.�When Joseph Pollet, director of engineering for Entercom New Orleans, spoke at NAB 10 years ago to discuss how broadcast stations should prepare for hurricanes, no one knew that just five months later the methods that he preached would be put to the test.�

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, but Pollet is set to return to the NAB Show to once again discuss preparedness in a post-Katrina world in his presentation, �Hurricane Preparedness in a City Below Sea Level 10 Years After Katrina.�

Pollet is a lifelong native of New Orleans and has worked for Entercom for 20 years. He had practice in dealing with hurricanes, but Katrina brought new challenges.

�Prior to Katrina, everyone�s paradigm was based on prior experiences,� said Pollet. �It�s a big mess, you clean up your mess and you go about your business. This time the levees broke� it was a new experience for everyone and a new paradigm for how you deal with it.�

Nearly every facet of Entercom�s plan has been revamped in the years since Katrina, ranging from increased food supply, to switching to generators prior to the storm�s arrival and even limiting the number of people that they can shelter.

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�A lot of these items we talked about before, but never to the full scope,� said Pollet.

Even with the unexpected challenges, Entercom New Orleans WWL(AM/FM) was the only station that stayed on-air during the entirety of Katrina, simulcasting on multiple stations to ensure that people could receive the latest news updates.

In Pollet�s original presentation, he relied on computer simulations to demonstrate some of the possibilities of the problems a storm like Katrina could cause. That won�t be the case this time, as Pollet will use actual pictures (one is shown above and is�courtesy�of NOAA) and videos from the storm of rising water levels and more, some of which have never been seen by the public.�

While his presentation and experience is nearly entirely based out of New Orleans and dealing with hurricanes, the main point is a universal one for all broadcasters: Plan ahead.

�It�s all in the planning; it�s all in reviewing the plan, and then it�s following the plan,� said Pollet.�

The three main things that broadcasters need to do when preparing for storms or disasters are plan ahead, review that plan annually and then expand when needed. Pollet admits that it is impossible to plan for all eventualities, but as he learned during Hurricane Katrina, even if the emergency exceeds all expectations, some kind of a plan is better than no plan at all.

�Hurricane Preparedness in a City Below Sea Level 10 Years After Katrina� will take place Wednesday, April 15 at 9 a.m. in South Hall Meeting Room S227.

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