Excellent leadership

Published 12:38 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How people respond during desperate situations provides a good look at their character. Hurricane Irene provided an opportunity for such looks.

We like what we observed. Because of what we observed, it’s time to distribute a few praises and pats on the back. There’s no way we can provide those praises and pats on the back to all who deserve them. There are some folks who should be singled out, and that’s what we will do in this space.

Jim Chrisman, Beaufort County’s interim manager, did himself and the county proud in the way he handled a disaster of enormous magnitude. Surrounded by the pressures associated with such a disaster, Chrisman was calm, collected and cool as he helped coordinate emergency responses during and after the storm. If he was troubled internally, his public face provided a confidence and reassurance that county residents need to have in disastrous times.

Washington’s new city manager, Josh Kay, provided the same reassurance and confidence for city residents. Kay, who took over as city manager Aug. 1, showed over the weekend he’s more than capable of leading the city in preparing for and responding to a disaster.

Kay asked for advice from city employees. He listened to that advice. He acted on that advice. Kay recognizes that he has some excellent people working with him. He let them do their jobs. They performed their duties admirably.

In his first crisis as city manager, Kay performed admirably. Kay set the bar high as far as our expectations regarding him. We don’t believe he will disappoint.

As for John Pack, Beaufort County’s emergency-management supervisor, his performance in the past several days shows the county has the right man overseeing preparations and responses to emergencies in the county. If dealing with Irene didn’t tax Pack enough, he had to deal with the public and media before, during and after the storm. The public and media can be demanding. Pack met those demands with a professionalism that let people know he knew what he was doing.

Area public-safety personnel — law enforcement, fire and EMS — proved they were prepared and more than ready and able to carry out their responsibilities during a disaster.

In times of crisis or disaster, people want their leaders to show strength, confidence and decisiveness. Chrisman, Kay and Pack more than exhibited those qualities during the weekend.

As the county and city recover during the coming days, count on them to provide the leadership required to make that recover happen swiftly and smoothly.