I’ve read a lot about Mayor Ray Nagin and his prison sentencing. I’m stricken by it.
I got to know Mayor Ray Nagin intimately during Hurricane Katrina. Over the course of a few days we had a number of intense conversations along with my colleagues on the emergency broadcast station WWL-AM and at the Central Command of Operations at the Super Dome.
Thirteen of us (and a Golden Retriever) were holed up in the Dominion Tower adjacent to the Super Dome serving as the only source of communication for S.E. Louisiana. Our studios looked out into the sea of people who had no where else to go.
I moved to New Orleans less than two weeks prior to Katrina. I was hired as a host on WKBU (Rock station), the sister-station to the legendary WWL-AM.
As the storm inched closer, I signed off WKBU with my Program Director, Don Harrison. All NOLA radio and TV stations then simulcasted the emergency operation broadcast from WWL-AM.
Once we simulcasted, my job was to take on the role of Producer. Specifically, I’d gather intel with my Engineer, Kevin Duplantis. We’d walk through swarms of angry, frantic people to Central Command where all the officials could be found. We’d then relay new information back to the studio.
As things intensified and the military finally showed up, we were frequently escorted by guards armed with semi-automatic rifles pushing through people from our studio to Central Command. The people were on the verge of rioting and the water was rising every minute.
In those few days I saw the Mayor go through the spectrum of emotions. I’ve never seen one human under more pressure than Ray Nagin. His city, my new city, was being undertaken like it was Gotham and no super hero was coming to help.
What I learned about Ray Nagin in those few days was an authenticity that I had never witnessed from a person in power. He was bold and resolute. He was courages in his call for help. He was prideful to a fault. He was a man in trouble and seemingly alone in his decisions.
Ray Nagin is not an innocent man. He failed before, during and after Katrina.
As Mr. Nagin finds himself behind bars, I wonder how he’ll cope with his new intense scenario? Will the same solitary feeling creep into his mindset? Will he go through the emotional spectrum?
It’s easy to hold one emotion in your mind of this man and judge him for his bad decisions from afar. For me I see him differently, because for those few days I saw a man be as brave as one could be.
Forgive me, but I’ll always look back and feel inspired by this very flawed man.