BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott said it's time to take a hard look at what we did right, what we did wrong and what we can do better next time. Lott was the guest speaker Wednesday night at the Katrina Plus 10 event. He told the audience before Hurricane Katrina struck, he had been thinking of retiring, but after the storm, he knew he had to run one more time to do what he could to help Mississippi recover.
Lott had seen how Hurricane Katrina destroyed his beachfront home in Pascagoula, but the former senator said it wasn't until he took a helicopter ride along the entire Mississippi Coastline that he realized the magnitude of the damage.
"That's when it really hit me. We flew along the Coast and looked at Biloxi, Gulfport and the entire span of the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Lott said. "I remember thinking to myself and I remember saying exactly, 'This is not a five year event, but even a 10 year event or longer.'"
Lott told an audience how after Katrina, congressional leaders and former President George W. Bush put aside party politics to help the Gulf Coast. However, Lott said many times, those presidential orders were bogged down in bureaucracy and red tape.
"I would urge future presidents when you have a disaster like this, wherever it is in the country or any kind, he needs to bring in a group of maybe 10 or 12 of the key government agency heads, bureaus, military and meet with them weekly," said Lott. "Give them each an order each week, and check to see if they've done it and if they haven't, fire them."
The senator said 10 years after Katrina is a great time to come together to reflect on our response starting with the governor's office.
"I'm going to urge Phil to maybe have a meeting here on the Coast and meet with elected officials and civic leaders," Lott said. "Let's take a look at where we are and what we can do to be better prepared next time, and also to address some of the problems that we're still dealing with, and insurance is number one."
One of Lott's former neighbors in Pascagoula presented him with a special gift. Ten years ago in the Katrina rubble, she found his senate lapel pin with his name engraved on it. She cleaned and polished it and saved it for him all these years. Lott was very touched and thanked her for returning it.