Katrina slammed the state seven years ago and Jon Mabry has been in the middle of its recovery.
It’s been seven years since Hurricane Katrina after which Mississippi then-Gov. Haley Barbour created the state’s Disaster Recovery Division and placed Jon Mabry as its chief operations officer. In that position Mabry administers more than $5 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding earmarked by Congress for recovery projects after Katrina.
Catastrophic disaster recovery planning and execution is a rare event that many professional emergency managers will never experience. Mabry agreed to participate in an interview with Emergency Management magazine to share the state's challenges, successes and what he would do differently in the future.
Question: What was the scale of the disaster impacts that Mississippi had to deal with following Hurricane Katrina?
Our infrastructure was almost completely inoperable along the coast. Key roads and bridges were destroyed. Police stations, fire stations, public works were severely hampered. On the economic side, recovering businesses were left without basic utilities, but even when those utilities were restored the workers were displaced. This destruction, although obviously most acute in the coastal counties, continued well inland as Hurricane Katrina’s winds sustained hurricane strength well over 150 miles inland. Of the 3 million people in our state, about 1 million suffered damages wrought by Hurricane Katrina. One-third of all Mississippians were touched directly by this storm.
Initial efforts to initiate long-term disaster recovery were not successful. What mistakes were made that limited the ability to jump-start recovery programs?
|Emergency Management’s previous coverage of Hurricane Katrina includes:
Hurricane Katrina Hero Carries Lessons Learned to Future Challenges in Harris County, Texas
Gulf Coast Rebuilding After Hurricane Katrina Means Developing the Work Force
Re-Entry Plans Aid Repopulation After Mass Evacuation
'Worst School District' Gets a Facelift After Katrina