GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Hurricane Katrina tore through not only homes, but power lines as well. Mike Smith is the CEO and General Manager of Singing River Electric Power Association. He remembers those dark days.
"We were without power to any of our consumers, destruction everywhere, and we were basically cut off from the outside world for a period of days," said Smith.
Singing River EPA did restore power to the Jackson County campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in three days and helped secure an interest free, $810,000 loan so the campus could stay open and pay employees.
That was very important, according to Dr. Mary Graham, MGCCC President.
"We were trying to make strides. To get people back into a regular routine. To experience some normalcy. To have a safety net. To be back in an institution where they felt comfortable and secure," Graham recalled.
Some of the workers at Singing River EPA went above and beyond the call of duty after Katrina. People like 36-year veteran Glenn Foreman.
"I was trying to help get people out of their houses. I mean, everybody's house was flooding and tearing to pieces. So me and a lot of my neighbors were just trying to help people out," Foreman said.
He said the days after the storm were long and hard.
"15 or 17 hour days some days, but I'd say it probably took us four to six weeks before everybody was on," said Foreman.
Katrina changed everything, sometimes for the better, according to Smith.
"There were lessons learned for us in that disaster, and we've made changes in how we would approach a storm in the future," said Smith.
That future looks a bit brighter thanks to the efforts of Coast power companies.
Just before the storm, Singing River EPA had almost 65,000 customers. Today, that number has grown to more than 72,000.