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Voices of Support for Storm Survivors

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Mr. MICHAEL COGSWELL: I'm Michael Cogswell, director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York City. Partially because of Louis, the music of New Orleans is beloved all over the world. It's been heartbreaking for everybody at the Armstrong house to observe the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, but the culture of New Orleans is so rich and its people so spirited that New Orleans will recover.

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Ms. BONNIE RAITT: Hi. This is Bonnie Raitt, and I just wanted to say to all my friends down in the Louisiana-Alabama-Mississippi area you've been through so much and we know how much you've been suffering and what losses and trauma you're going through, and I just want to give you as much support from those of us that love this area and have spent so much of our time enjoying the culture. And for me personally, you know, I've been playing New Orleans and visiting since the early '70s, and of course, the blues coming from the Mississippi delta. This is the bedrock of American music, the greatest gift that we've given to the rest of the world. Our hearts are going out to you, and we want you to take strength in knowing that we are going to be there with you and listen and rebuild and help you get back on solid ground, and I send my love and support. And God bless you all.

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Ms. BETSY MULLENER: My name is Betsy Mullener, and I'm a reporter at The Times-Picayune. I grew up in St. Louis; that's where I am now, at my brother's house. But I've lived in New Orleans since 1972, when I moved there for just one year and then got hopelessly smitten with the place. I live on Camp Street uptown, and my quirky old house appears to be safe and sound. There's some roof damage and the fabulous magnolia tree is down. But no flooding and no looting. I know how lucky I am. Still, I miss it bad, bad, bad, as we say in New Orleans. I can't wait for the moment I can walk into Langenstein's Grocery on Arabella Street and ask Mr. Buddy(ph) for some really big shrimp, or watch a movie at the funky old Brittania Theatre, or play catch on the levee, or go to LaCote Brasserie where my husband and I had one last glorious dinner the night before we evacuated. So I want to tell the people of my city that right now we're spread out all over the country, but I know that you all are sprinkling a little good New Orleans juju around wherever you are, and I have faith that someday soon we'll all be together again. I got an e-mail from Tina, one of my poker buddies. She's in Maine. And she said we just have to have a game soon because there's entirely too much to talk about. I agree. See you back home.

Ms. FANNIE FLAGG: This is Fannie Flagg. I'm a writer and an actress from Fairhope, Alabama, which is right across from Mobile, and what I'd like to say to you today is that Alabama is a great state and our strength has always been that we take care of one another. We're going to come back stronger than ever and we'll all be together and happy and back in our lovely home state again.

Mr. RICHARD FORD: My name is Richard Ford. I'm a novelist. I was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and like so many Mississippians I'm also a New Orleanian someplace down deep. So many who've suffered through this catastrophe are out of earshot today, but for those who aren't and can hear our words, you should know our hearts go to you and we'll try to make our efforts and not just our words meet your great need. It may not feel like it to you today when your life is so altered, but you are us and we're you. That part of the human condition hasn't changed, though it's for us, now, those of us who are safe, to prove that to you, and we will try our very best. In six months or 12 months or 18 months, this loss and this suffering will not be a new story anymore. Already, today, we can see the focus shifting over to who's to blame and who's not. And yet in the long months to come, our friends' lives and their needs and maybe even their suffering will still be going on. So we have to be patient, and we have to be sustaining in our generosities and in our faith that things that are bad now can be made better no matter what's on the news. We have to have good memories, in other words, to match our good intentions so that we can do for others what we would hope they would do for us in our time of greatest need. Thank you.

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Unidentified Musician: (Singing) ...(Unintelligible) may be right or wrong.

SCOTT SIMON (Host): Salutations from authors Richard Ford and Fannie Flagg, Times-Picayune reporter Elizabeth Mullener, Bonnie Raitt and Michael Cogswell, director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archives in New York.

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

United States & World Weekend Edition Saturday