BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Haley Barbour believes the nation's governors who came to Biloxi this weekend have a much better understanding of south Mississippi's post Katrina recovery.
During Monday's closing session, the governors who were left listened to a presentation about energy issues. They discussed potential economic solutions. They launched an initiative to have states develop a prescription for healthcare reform.
When they got away from the coliseum, governors like Iowa's Chester Culver looked around and saw Mississippi's courage.
"I'm really impressed with how much they've done in terms of the recovery effort," Culver said.
To Governor Culver, an empty slab in D'Iberville is eerily similar to the destruction his state sustained last year, when powerful winds and relentless flood waters pounded Iowa. Because of that experience, the governor can appreciate what Mississippi has been going through as it tries to rebuild from Katrina.
"As I know very well, that's a long haul, that's a long recovery. And you can never move as fast as you like," he said.
The new vice chair of the National Governors Association is Joe Manchin.
"I see a proud people rebuilding," said Manchin, referring to the homes popping up along Highway 90, and the restaurants he visited during his visit.
Manchin knew about Mississippi's southern hospitality. But he wasn't sure what Biloxi would look like four years after Katrina. The West Virginia governor headed home quite impressed.
"They didn't get down. They got turned upside down for awhile, but they didn't get down. They're coming back," he said.
When Gov. Haley Barbour stepped to the podium to thank people for attending the conference, he said, "I do want to tell you we've enjoyed having you here."
Barbour and his wife played host during the four day National Governors Association Conference. He noted that just about every governor in town sent Mississippi help when the state was struggling to get back on its feet.
"And for us to say thanks and here take a look at what we did with your help was a very fitting weekend," he said.
About two dozen governors attended the NGA conference. But when the final gavel sounded, only seven were still in town.
The last thing they heard was the initiative to create a prescription for health reform. That announcement came from Vermont governor James Douglas. He proposed the health reform initiative because "the time is right for governors to define their roles in developing a more coordinated and efficient system to reduce the cost of health care and improve access to quality care." But he offered no specifics about what the initiative might contain.
Douglas is the new chair of the National Governors Association.