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Mississippi Hurricane Katrina 2005:
Governor establishes Recovery Commission and Recovery Office

Within two weeks of the disaster, Governor Barbour established the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal, a privately funded, nonprofit organization, with over 40 local officials and business leaders serving as chairs and committee leaders for the Commission. It was supported by a small (about ten member) staff and included over 500 volunteers serving on numerous committees. In Governor Barbour’s words:“The Commission will lead, but local governments and the private sector will decide. The Coast and South Mississippi will decide their own destiny, but with strong support from the Commission, our Congressional delegation, state officials and many others.”

In mid-October 2005, the Commission held a six-day Mississippi Renewal Forum with teams of local and out-of-state professionals working alongside community leaders to design and plan for the Gulf Coast. Following this, the Commission worked to process input from the Forum and developed its final report titled, “After Katrina: Building Back Better than Ever” on December 31, 2005 that contained over 230 recommendations in a variety of areas including infrastructure, economic development, and human services. The Commission effectively ended at this point but its work and recommendations were instrumental in shaping the state’s recovery agenda.

In early 2006, Mississippi’s state legislature and Governor Barbour established the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal, which served as a policy-oriented body for the state and its staff had the primary responsibility for designing the state’s various recovery programs and shaping the state’s overall approach to rebuilding. Among its responsibilities, the office coordinated relief efforts among Federal and state agencies, namely the Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, and other public and private entities. Its primary objectives included maximizing the use of credit in lieu of cash, providing policy advice and formulation to the governor and state agencies, providing technical assistance and outreach to local
governments, and facilitating the implementation of recommendations made by the Governor’s Commission.

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