ABC7 reporter, helicopter pilot recall air coverage of Hurricane Katrina

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- On the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, ABC7's J.T. Alpaugh recalls covering the devastation from the air.

Alpaugh, along with Helinet pilot Alan Purwin, were the first news crew to see the destruction from above, recording high-definition images, which was a brand new technology at the time.

When Alpaugh and Purwin first entered New Orleans, they saw water everywhere, boats on fire and piled up in the marina, homes under eight to nine feet of water and people waiting to be rescued.

"Our first priority was to document, tell the story. I just started narrating what was going on," Alpaugh said. "We would fly in an area and we'd see someone pop up on a rooftop and wave to us. You'd see the signs: 'help us, come get us, S.O.S.' We'd call in these rescues and five minutes later a Coast Guard Jayhawk or a Delphine would come in and hoist rescue them out."

The Coast Guard is credited with rescuing 30,000 people from the disaster zone. Alpaugh and Purwin, thanks to their eyes in the sky, helped lead rescuers to many of those people.

Watch the video above to listen to Alpaugh's full interview and see the never-before-seen images captured from the air.
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