Newhouse alumnus providing coverage, aid post hurricane

By Keith Kobland

August 30, 2017

As the post-Hurricane Harvey rescue and recover efforts continue, Nick Natario ’08 was faced with a difficult decision. The Newhouse School alumnus didn’t hesitate. He and his photographer at KTRK-TV in Houston decided to put their video gear aside and begin saving hurricane victims. Putting the story in perspective is a daunting task. Helping his fellow man at the moment was something much more important to Natario, who just started his new job in Houston last week. He took a moment from post-hurricane coverage to answer some questions about what it’s like to cover a story of so much damage and so close to home.

Photo of Nick Natario
Nick Natario ’08 (right) was part of the coverage team for KTRK-TV, and volunteer rescue crew during the days following Hurricane Harvey.

01 You say you started at KTRK-TV five days ago. How did your day begin as Harvey was bearing down on Texas?

I started to cover Harvey Saturday night. I attempted to drive to work but all the exits were flooded. I had to drive 3 miles north and park in a garage. I was stranded for hours, but a photographer was able to pick me up. Since Saturday, I’ve worked 34 hours. I have another 12 hours scheduled for today. We are on-air nonstop. As for my coverage, I’m bouncing around from area to area, trying to show the damage and get people help. In between live shots I’m helping people move goods and trying to provide a laugh.

02 This is your fifth TV station since starting in the business. Have you ever covered something quite like this before?

I’ve covered natural disasters in the past (Tropical Storm Irene destroyed Vermont when I was there), but I’ve never had a concern about my home or family. It’s different this time. Water is creeping down my street and my spouse is home alone with our dog. That’s what makes this coverage so much more difficult. As I’m reporting on the damage, I know at anytime, my spouse and home could be next. As a journalist, I try to distance myself so I can mentally stay fresh. I have to admit, it’s reaching a point where that’s difficult.

03 During your days as a broadcast and digital journalism student at Syracuse University, you were also one of a select few in Otto's "inner circle." How did this experience (helping Otto come to life) help in your current career?

There is no doubt Otto got me to Houston. I rely heavily on creativity. I’m constantly grabbing props (something Otto does all the time) to demonstrate situations. I also think outside the box for stand ups.

04 What advice would you have for aspiring broadcast students?

Advice to fellow journalism students and other Syracuse University students: Whatever your career, wherever you live, whenever a natural disaster strikes, think of others. Whether it’s reporting on the ground and getting people help, dropping off supplies or working a shelter, it makes a major difference. Help your neighbor and stay strong because so many others are hurting.

With this in mind, Nick reached back out to Syracuse University News after our initial interview to say he was okay, after the boat he was using to rescue people overturned. A scary moment, he said, among the many in the hours and days following Hurricane Harvey.

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