Scholars talk resilience at USM

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -  It's called the Ghost of Katrina Conference, a two-day event bringing world of academia and the community together to build more resilient communities.

"The folks on the ground keeps us academics honest," said Jack Covarrubias, University of Southern Mississippi political science instructor. "It's very easy to enter the ivory tower, and say we should just do this. Then you present the idea to Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan who says 'That's great but not really practical.'"

Local leaders and emergency responders met with academics in a panel-style session to discuss strategies and solutions. USM has collaborated with the Community and Regional Resilience Institute, also known as CARRI, to help communities better prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

"What we're trying to do is learn, so we can take the lesson you've learned in South Mississippi and help transmit them to the rest of the nation. We want people across the nation to be as resilient as the people on the Gulf Coast," says Warren Edwards of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

"The most remarkable thing I've come across is how quickly we forget, how quickly we abandon those lessons learned," says Craig Colten of Louisiana State University.

For the past two years, researchers with CARRI have worked to help communities apply those lessons. While there's still much to do, researchers like Edwards say there's one encouraging observation they've made during their time here.

Edwards says, "The citizens and the organizations of the Gulf Coast are tremendously resilient."

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has provided grants for the CARRI research project.

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