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First-year students learn about leadership from Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré

Leader of hurricane recovery urges students to “make the world a better place”

KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct 27, 2017) — In the wake of three major hurricane disasters this year, Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who led the recovery efforts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005, spoke to first-year Kennesaw State students this week about preparedness and what it will take to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

“I’d like to inspire you to make this world a better place,” Honoré told a room full of students in the Burruss Building on the Kennesaw Campus. “We are in a race. It is a race to save Mother Earth.”

Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré

Honoré, who commanded Joint Task Force-Katrina and retired from the Army in 2008 after 37 years of service, shared some of the biggest challenges and opportunities that the U.S. faces, particularly in the recent aftermath of hurricanes Harvey in Houston, Irma in Florida and Maria in Puerto Rico.

“It’s not the storm that killed people, but the surge of floodwaters,” he said, adding that flooding kills more people than any other event globally. “Flooding took down the grid. That’s water, phone, electricity, sewer, even gasoline.”

He told students how, in 1947 when he was born, it was much easier to survive a storm, than today. Then, food was grown in the backyard, air conditioning had not been invented and oil lamps were still prevalent as electricity backup.

“We now have a dependency on power,” he said. “When we lose power in America, we start moving toward disaster.”

Despite challenges posed by global warming triggering more weather events in the future, Honoré said there is “abundant opportunity for today’s students to make a difference.”

Social media was a lifesaver for many when waters began to rise from Hurricane Harvey, he explained. “People turned to social media when they became stranded and the Cajuns (boaters from Louisiana) came to rescue thousands of people from their Houston homes,” Honoré said.

“When you can communicate, you can coordinate, and if you can coordinate, you can save lives,” he said. “We can all make a difference.”

Honoré’s talk was hosted by Kennesaw State’s Department of First-Year and Transition Studies and the Emergency Preparedness Learning Community. His book, “Leadership in the New Normal,” is one of the students’ textbooks.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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