Thursday, December 14, 2006
During the holidays we should all remember those less fortunate.
Churches, civic groups and others are helping provide some holiday cheer to those who otherwise would not receive any.
One group of people we should not forget, even though it has been more than a year since Hurricane Katrina, are the people on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. Many from our county helped in the aftermath of the storm, and the coastal residents particularly continue to need our prayers as they rebuild not just their homes and businesses, but their lives.
Just a couple of months ago, Gov. Haley Barbour released “One Year After Katrina, Progress Report on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal.” It recaps the storm, which struck the state on the morning of August 29, 2005, and focuses on the progress to this point and the challenges that remain.
The damage to Mississippi alone made Hurricane Katrina one of the most destructive natural disasters in modern history. The storm claimed the lives of more than 230 Mississippians. Forty-nine of the state’s 82 counties became disaster-declared counties.
The storm surge was in excess of 30 feet in some areas. Over 80 miles of Mississippi coastline were completely destroyed by the mixture of high storm surge and strong winds.
Seven days after the hurricane, Governor Barbour established the Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal, a nonprofit corporation. It brought together citizens, community officials, business leaders, non-profits and other experts to formulate plans for rebuilding. The Commission provided over 240 recommendations on rebuilding Mississippi.
Some key state accomplishments include:
Hurricane Katrina destroyed thousands of businesses and billions of dollars in sales revenue were lost. Beachfronts and hotels were obliterated. Small businesses – the lifeblood of many local economies – were wiped out.
Rebuilding and expanding our state’s economic infrastructure and creating jobs are a top priority, according to the report. Restoring our state’s economic base and tax revenues is critical to the long-term recovery of the state.
Already, a small business no-interest loan program has helped hundreds of businesses get back on their feet. Working with local bankers, the state loaned 537 businesses $13.25 million, an average loan of $24,674.
More information from the governor’s report will follow next week.
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