People’s best seen in tough times

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, August 29, 2010

Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina left her mark on SouthwestMississippi, I wrote a column reflecting on the events since thatfateful day in 2005 – five years ago today. The worst of daysusually brings out the best in a community. It did in 2005, as itwill in 2010.

“It has been an interesting two weeks. Interesting, in thathopefully never again in our lives will we have to endure thehardships and uncertainty of such a catastrophic calamity.Interesting, in that one realizes just how insignificant somethings are, that in the past seemed so important. Interesting, inthat the frowns of uncertainty in the initial days following thehurricane seen on countless faces now are turning into smiles ofrelief and hope.

Interesting, in that while we have all heard news reports of theworst of human nature, locally it is the best of human nature thathas blossomed following Katrina’s wake. But what else would onerespect from a community that calls itself the “HomeseekersParadise?”

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Countless volunteers from across the county have ascended on RedCross shelters located at six churches here in Brookhaven. For afortnight an estimated 2,100 meals per day have been prepared forthe 700-plus evacuees who have made Brookhaven their temporaryhome. You do the math and it is not hard to understand theHerculean efforts these church members and volunteers areundertaking. Church congregation from across the county are alsojoining in the effort sharing cooking duties.

At the same time countless volunteers have ascended on the roadsand community centers across the county offering a helping hand toclear roads and yards, hand out water and ice as well as the othernecessities needed. Tales of random acts of kindness are everywhereas old friendships have been renewed and new friendshipestablished.

People just helping people has been the focus of the past twoweeks…”

When you look around our area today, the scars of that hurricanenamed Katrina are gone, the physical damage has long since beenrepaired and life is back to normal. All of us now have a newrespect for Mother Nature, understanding the wrath she can bring,as well as the importance of being prepared.

While we have bounced back from Katrina’s visit, it has beenother events such as the national economic downturn of the past twoyears and the BP oil spill this summer that have created newchallenges for us here in Southwest Mississippi.

On this anniversary, while the national media is placing itsfocus on New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast with thepositive improvements that have been made there, here are a fewpositive items that are happening here in our own area that willnot make the national headlines but are just as important.

• A $25 million renovation of the old Columbus Lumber Companyplant by its new owner Rex Lumber. When completed early next year100 new jobs will be created.

• Great Southern Wood Holdings (YellaWood) is now in productionand has created just under 20 new jobs.

• Kings Daughter’s Medical Center is in a growth stage withexpansions that have added new staff and has several news doctorsslated to begin practicing here as part of our growing medicalcommunity.

• M & M Milling is midway through renovations to the oldSpecialty Minerals facility, creating new job opportunities in2011.

• A financial incentive measure was passed by state lawmakers onFriday that will bring a biofuel plant to Franklin County by 2015.The plant will convert wood chips to fuel products. The plant isexpected to bring 250 new jobs to the area.

• The LinBrook business and industrial complex is nearingcompletion, placing the area in a strong position when industrialprospects again start looking for new industrial sites.

• City and county test score improvement is an important tool inindustrial recruitment. The efforts of Mississippi Scholars ispaying off as the rest of the state marvels at the commitment ourcommunity has made to making our schools better and our studentsbetter prepared.

People helping people was the silver lining that Katrina broughtto our area. Not that it was not here before, Katrina just allowedus all to be reminded of the importance of everyone workingtogether as one. In the past five years, this area has continuedthat effort. Despite the tough economic times, the success of thoseefforts can be seen in the list above and represents success we canall proudly hang our hat upon.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602, orsend e-mail to