Mayor Bill White and a Louisiana school superintendent won the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Monday for their actions in response to the Hurricane Katrina crisis in August 2005.
White and Doris Voitier, superintendent of schools in St. Bernard Parish, La., "took extraordinary risks and exemplified the best in political leadership to meet the needs of communities affected by Hurricane Katrina," said a statement from the JFK Library Foundation, which sponsors the awards.
"Mayor White's quick actions evacuating thousands of families displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita most certainly helped to save lives," the foundation's president, Caroline Kennedy, said.
White and Voitier will receive the award in Boston on May 21 from Caroline Kennedy, the late president's daughter, and U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, his brother.
The statement said White, as mayor, "marshaled the resources and good will of his city to provide refuge and essential services to hundreds of thousands of people who fled the Gulf Coast after hurricanes Katrina and Rita."
He also "led a community-wide effort that included diverting convention and event business to open the region's convention center and public facilities to tens of thousands of evacuees," it said.
"When the federal emergency response faltered in the days and weeks following the crisis, White mobilized more than 100,000 Houstonians in the public, private, business and faith-based communities to help evacuees rebuild their lives with independence and dignity.
"Houston offered innovative programs to provide more than 100,000 evacuees with long-term housing, job placement services and public education," the statement said.