USM remembers Hurricane Katrina


Courtland Wells

Former Governor Haley Barbour speaks at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Overcoming Katrina: 10 Years of Progress at the Trent Lott National Center Wednesday August 26, 2015. A book signing by Governor Barbour followed.

It has been a decade since Hurricane Katrina struck The University of Southern Mississippi and Gulf Park college campuses.

The storm, which resulted in over $200 million in damages for the Gulf Coast and Hattiesburg property, is remembered as the greatest natural disaster in modern American history.
Marking the anniversary of the catastrophe, USM along with The Hattiesburg Area Development Partnership held a 10-year anniversary program Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in the Trent Lott National Center to commemorate the important event as well as recognize the very people who helped our university recover.

“It is of the utmost importance to remember Hurricane Katrina because our most defining moments as individuals and as an institution come at times of greatest challenge,” said Steve Miller, vice president of the Gulf Park campus.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour served as guest speaker of the program as he presented a motivational lecture reliving the horrific storm.

Barbour, who served as governor during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, also spoke on his book “America’s Great Storm: Leading through Hurricane Katrina,” in which he
co-authored with Jere Nash. Many among the Hattiesburg community and university staff can recall personal experiences with the devastating event.One of those staff members is Jim Coll, chief communication officer of University Communications.

“The scope and magnitude of destruction are unforgettable,” – Coll

“Like many people, I also remember an unforgettable smell that was combination of mud, mold and more.”Coll went on to state how proud he remembers being of the Hattiesburg community during the storm. “It truly was a situation where everyone was pulling in the same direction and caring for their neighbors,” Coll said.

Hurricane Katrina, which ranks as a category five storm, killed more than 1,800 when it struck the Gulf Coast.

The storm also relocated more than 1 million more people as well as caused over $100 billion in damages to the region.
A second program commemorating the event will also take place at the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach on Aug. 28, beginning at 8 p.m. in the Fleming Education Center.

The Gulf Coast Business Council, City of Long Beach Mayor’s Office and Mississippi Representative Richard Bennett and the Office of the Vice President Gulf Park campus will present the program.

To read more experiences from Hurricane Katrina, visit