Barbour: State will rebuild

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; South Mississippi will rebuild better than ever despite Katrina&8217;s devastation thanks to federal incentives and the spirit of its people, Gov. Haley Barbour said in Natchez Tuesday.

Barbour was the speaker in the annual Governor&8217;s Conference on Tourism, held this year at the Natchez Convention Center.

In Barbour&8217;s words, the coast after Katrina &8220;looked like a nuclear weapon was set off in the (Mississippi) Sound.&8221;

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Damage and injuries from the late August hurricane could be seen inland for more than 100 miles, Barbour noted.

Still, he said, immediately after the storm subsided, &8220;people rolled up their britches and got to work&8221; rebuilding their properties and helping their neighbors.

One example he gave was the demolished city of Waveland, where 29 police officers rode out a storm surge that submerged the department, then were on duty by the night after the storm to help in recovery efforts.

Another was his wife Marsha&8217;s story of a family she met in the inland city of Kiln.

Their mobile home crushed like a tin can, the couple and their eight children didn&8217;t take all the supplies they were offered. Instead, they directed relief workers to even poorer families down the road.

That&8217;s the kind of selflessness &8212; not to mention spirit and courage &8212; Katrina brought out in south Mississippi residents, Barbour said.

But he also mentioned something else he said will help get south Mississippi back on its feet: Gulf Opportunity Zone legislation passed by Congress late last year.

That act will allow Mississippi to issue up to $4.8 billion in tax-free bonds to help fund projects, tax credits for new and expanding businesses, he noted.