Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré spoke to students in KSU’s Emergency Preparedness Learning Community about his rescue efforts following the 2005 storm, which claimed around 1,800 lives. The program was formed to help first-year students prepare for a variety of emergencies.
Honoré spoke to the students Monday about “creating a culture of preparedness in America,” a topic that is especially relevant as the nation watches Hurricane Sandy pummel the northeastern coast of the United States.
“We could have 50 million people without power by the time this storm is over with,” he said. “The entire financial system in New York could be dysfunctional — not for days, but for weeks. This could be equivalent to a nuclear attack if the worst-case scenario unfolds.”
In the event of a catastrophe, students should help the elderly, disabled and poor, who are typically affected the most when disaster strikes, Honoré said.
“We have an obligation to take care of those people who can’t take care of themselves,” he said. “It’s a moral responsibility we all have.”
He also said young people will have to “create the new normal” and learn to live with Mother Nature in the ever- expanding global population.
Honoré told the students they must be competitive, innovative and creative in finding ways to resolve issues when disasters happen.
“This is in the broader aspect of what your generation is going to have to do to solve these problems,” he said. “Hopefully in taking this course, it will whet your appetite for preparedness. What you will do is build resiliency in our community. It’s the ability not to stop weather from happening but to be able to recover and start operations back after an event happens.”
He recommended they figured out how to provide clean air, water and safe food for citizens, along with learning First Aid by volunteering with organizations like the American Red Cross.
“Volunteer and help in the community,” Honoré said. “How you recover is dependent on how well-prepared you are. You will feel empowered because you know what to do.”
He closed by reiterating that the students in the class are the “next generation” of help and that it’s their responsibility to “make this world a better place to live so that everybody can live safe.”
Ian Florence, 18, one of the students who elected to participate in the learning community courses, was excited to meet Honoré.
“I actually read his book before I even took this class,” said the Alpharetta freshman, who is studying music education. “I’m just a big fan of the mentality the General has.”
Florence, who called himself a “survivalist,” said he joined the program after his brother went through it.
“In the iPhone generation, where we don’t really understand that how much we have … if a cell tower drops, you can’t call to make sure your family is OK,” he said.
This is the second time Honoré spoke at KSU on the topic. He provided the inspiration for the emergency preparedness program with his first visit, in 2009. Each year, 75 students are selected to participate in the program. After this year, 300 will have completed it.