BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A captive audience of state leaders from across the country got the chance to hear former Governor Haley Barbour tell the story of Mississippi's recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
"Preparation," Barbour said. "You prepare. You plan. You practice. You work together."
That was the theme of Barbour's speech to the National State Auditors Association at Beau Rivage. Speaking to auditors, comptrollers, and treasurers from across the country, he discussed the plan leading up to Hurricane Katrina's landfall and the recovery effort in the weeks following.
"It's a process. Within the governor's office, we had people who had responsibilities based on time," said Barbour. "We had people who were working a week after the storm on stuff for a year from now."
For NSAA president and Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering, Barbour was the perfect person to give this address as the annual conference returned to Mississippi.
"Mississippi's Hurricane Katrina story is a great success story," Pickering said. "It was a tough one that we all lived through, all the way from the Coast literally up to I-20, at one degree or another. Governor Barbour led this state through that experience. To have him share the lessons he learned and how that applies not just to disasters, but how do we manage our agencies, our businesses everyday."
He believes the lessons learned can be applied anywhere, but also that the story of Mississippi's recovery is one that should always be remembered. "It's a great lesson of how we work together across party lines, across differences," said Pickering. "It's a good story that we get to tell. This is what we did right in Mississippi."
Barbour says when the moment comes for a leader to take charge, it's important that they have trust."That's really important if people who don't have to follow you, who don't work for you, who don't report to you," Barbour said. "If you're going to get them to follow your lead you've got to prove to them that you're prepared, that you've got a good plan. That this is going to work."
He said citizens must believe in that plan as well. "People from Gulfport or wherever on the Coast have to believe their communities are going to be great places to live again," he said. "That their kids are going to have good schools that they're going to have good jobs. They've got to see progress."
The NSAA annual conference wraps up in Biloxi on Friday.