Posted by: craigrcampbell | January 19, 2008

We’re not going to leave you behind.

Interview with Sally Forman, Director of Communications for Mayor Ray Nagin.

Today we found that rumors of New Orleans’ amazing hospitality is pure fact. This afternoon we had the opportunity to interview the director of Mayor Ray Nagin’s communications team, Sally Forman. With kindness and excitement, Mrs. Forrman opened the doors of her old Louisiana home and rushed us to the kitchen for refreshments and cookies before the interview began. Once we were all comfortably settled in the parlor of her home with her dogs wagging their tails around us, Sally Forman gave us the city’s story of Hurricane Katrina as she saw it from the make-shift offices of the city government in the Hyatt hotel.

Acting more like a secretary or chief of staff, Forman stayed alongside Nagin for the entirety of the storm and the crisis that occurred thereafter. It was Sally Forman, in fact, who coordinated the now famous interview between Garland Robinette and the emotional Mayor. She told us of her recognition of the importance of Clear Channel and Entercom broadcasting to the people and of her desperation to get the peoples’ leader on air with WWL. A maelstrom of emotion followed with the finding of a functioning phone line and their contact with the United Radio Broadcasters.

Having walked through the Superdome a couple of times, Sally Forman noted how comforting the radio was to her fellow New Orleanians. At one point she walked by a woman in the late stages of her pregnancy with her radio resting on her rounded stomach and her head laid back and eyes closed. That radio was bringing her and hundreds of people the information they needed to stay sane. The story has been the same for everyone who has spoken with us. The radio brought so much to these victims: uncomfortable, scared, and seemingly alone.

We then asked her how she used the radio knowing its importance to the people stuck in the superdome, convention center, or the roofs of their own homes. She told us that they tried to send messages to them that were consoling and fitting to the desperation of their people. They told the people that they were working 24/7 on dealing with the situation, that they hadn’t abandoned them.

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