Letters: Leadership After Katrina

Scott Simon reads e-mail sent by listeners. Topics include praise for Randy Adams, who helped organize hurricane evacuees at a Memphis hotel; Linda Wertheimer's essay on leadership in Katrina's wake; and messages from notable New Orleans natives.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Time now for your letters.

Two weeks ago my colleague Linda Wertheimer talked with Randy Adams, who fled the New Orleans area before the hurricane struck and was staying with other evacuees at a Memphis Red Roof Inn. We checked in with Mr. Adams earlier this hour. His efforts to help his fellow evacuees elicited a strong emotional response from many listeners. Judy Strollson(ph) from Portland, Oregon, writes, `I nominate Randy Adams as the new head of FEMA. The man planned for and recognized the potential danger to his home and family, took immediate and timely action to get his extended family to safety, and then stepped forward at the hotel to take charge of the supplies offered by the good folks of Memphis. He has my full and unqualified respect.'

Many of you wrote to thank Linda Wertheimer for her September 3rd essay about the role of strong leaders in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. John Drubnicky(ph) from Flushing, New York, writes, `As I listened the hair on my arms stood up. It was quite powerful to hear someone so trusted talk about her frustration with the lack of leadership after Hurricane Katrina. I can only imagine that this was the way people reacted when Walter Cronkite returned from Vietnam and told the American public that there is no way this war can be justified any longer.'

And last week we aired a series of salutations from Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi natives who offered tributes to their hometowns and greetings to their friends now scattered across the country. Rosemary Dennis(ph) of Las Vegas wrote in to say, `It made my heart sore to hear the beautiful messages sent to neighbors and friends from residents of the city. My fondest memories of my time in New Orleans are of Adele Gillett(ph) from Port Sulphur, Louisiana, Plaquemines Parish, telling me to, "Pass by the house tonight and I'll have a bowl of shrimp stew waiting for you," the essence of southeast Louisiana, always welcoming and grateful to have sweet, loyal friends. The city and the surrounding parishes are coming back with a vengeance and determination.'

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