By Barry Burleson
As we look to a new year, 2007, we only need to look to the people of
Mississippi’s Gulf Coast for inspiration.
Jim Barksdale, chairman of the Governor’s Commission on
Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal, noted, “The communities of
South Mississippi and the coastal region dug out...cleaned up...came
together...formed new structures...and are now moving forward and are
not looking back. The Coast of Mississippi has become famous around the
United States as a group of ‘can do’ people who
pull together as neighbors and friends.”
Additional information from “One Year After
Katrina,” recently released by the office of Gov. Haley
Barbour, is summarized in this my final column of 2006.
The hurricane made landfall in our state on the morning of August 29,
2005, as a Category 3 storm. Due to a number of factors, the storm
surge reached a height more closely approximating a Category 5
hurricane. Over 80 miles of Mississippi coastline were completely
destroyed by the mixture of high storm surge and strong winds.
But as Governor Barbour has said on many occasions, out of tragedy has
emerged a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild the right way.
The report continues:
- Perhaps the greatest success story out of the the tragedy is
the way all of Mississippi has come together to solve so many difficult
problems. Partnerships between state and local government, nonprofits,
think tanks, experts, nongovernmental organizations, churches and most
importantly Mississippi’s citizens have produced
extraordinary results. Much remains to be done, but this spirit of
collaboration will shape the recovery and rebuilding effort for years
Addressing housing needs is the key to recovery in our
state. Rebuilding over 70,000 housing units severely damaged in
Mississippi is a massive undertaking that will take years to complete.
The ability to achieve this daunting task in a timely manner will shape
what what the rest of the coast ultimately becomes.
Hurricane Katrina has created an incredible strain on
people’s lives. Project Recovery was established as a
division of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) to assist
people in finding ways to cope with stress caused by the storm. Project
Recovery provides crisis counseling services through community
outreach, public education and referrals. The services are free and
available to all people affected directly or indirectly by Hurricane
Many public safety entities were severely compromised during
Hurricane Katrina. Law enforcement facilities, fire departments and
emergency operation centers, and equipment along the coast were damaged
or destroyed. Communications between law enforcement officials and
responders in the aftermath of the storm proved difficult. Whereas some
jurisdictions were left in shambles, others were overwhelmed with a
flood of Katrina refugees. To restore public safety infrastructure, the
Department of Justice has awarded $58.25 million to Mississippi.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi had approximately
12,000 acres of productive oyster reef habitat. Recent annual
production approached 500,000 sacks (nearly four million pounds of
oyster meat). Preliminary mortality estimates of harvestable oysters
exceeded 90 percent. As a result, the 2005-06 Mississippi oyster season
was canceled to conserve the remaining resource. Because oysters are a
long-term crop, it may take years for them to fully recover, and it may
be a decade or more before the full effects on shellfish populations
are understood. Some oyster habitats may be permanently lost.
This is only a small portion of the governor’s Katrina
report. It can be downloaded from his website at
(662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
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