Coastal Carolina Town Learns From South Mississippi

Bluffton, South Carolina sits very close to the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, making it prime territory for a potential hurricane. That's why the mayor of that city and others came to the Mississippi Coast to learn from what happened here before, during and after Hurricane Katrina.

The town of Bluffton is reminiscent of pre-Katrina Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian or Ocean Springs. Now leaders from the coastal town are taking lessons from South Mississippi.

"They wanted to come somewhere where they could see firsthand the aftermath of Katrina and learn how a town prepares before and how we dealt with recovery afterwards," says Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran.

Moran says she was approached by the mayor of Bluffton to present her city's plan for the upcoming hurricane season and the South Carolina mayor is armed with questions.

"How did FEMA help them? How did FEMA hurt them? How did historic codes hurt them or help them," asks Bluffton Mayor Hank Johnston.

While Johnston has not had to deal with any major storms, the Mississippi native is no stranger to the Gulf Coast.

"To see many things that I remember as a kid coming to the Mississippi coast from Kosciusko, seeing those buildings or those sites no longer there and look at the impact to the new construction along the coast," says Johnston.

Looking at the aftermath of Katrina is what will help this mayor prepare his city for the unthinkable.

"I think it's pretty simple: All of us are smarter than any of us. So if we can work together with the mayor of Ocean Springs and her board of alderman and the key staff members and learn from their experiences, we think that would just give us a big jump and help us if we ever had such an event in Bluffton," says Johnston.

Friday leaders from Bluffton will return to Ocean Springs to meet with city leaders for a workshop on hurricane preparations. Bluffton is about ten minutes from Hilton Head and about 25 minutes from Savannah.