The world watched in shock and horror as the images poured in documenting the death and mass destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. The hard work and sacrifices of past and current generations seemed to be destroyed in the blink of an eye along with the hopes and dreams of residents caught up in the devastating storm.
As the true extent of the damage from Hurricane Katrina became more evident, news anchors and commentators began asking whether or not places like Mississippi could ever possibly recover. Still others began to wonder, as in the case with New Orleans, whether it was even wise to think about rebuilding in an area known to be prone to hurricanes.
But, it is certainly not in the character of the people of United States and especially those of the state of Mississippi to give up so easily. The fact that it will take a few years to recover from the damage is the last thing that will daunt the residents of Mississippi. However, the need for recovering and rebuilding is imperative from a more practical point of view, as Mississippi holds a large sway in the economic health of not only the region but of the United States as a whole.
The state of Mississippi functions as the gatekeeper for the mighty Mississippi River that is the backbone of the economy of the United States and the state of Mississippi in particular. The river is used to transport millions of tons of products every year. Hurricane Katrina temporarily disrupted the ability of people to use the Mississippi for transportation services causing severe damage to the local and national economy.
Mississippi is also very important to the nation's energy production. It has several refineries in the state that are responsible for converting crude oil into gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products. Hurricane Katrina's destruction not only harmed the local Mississippi economy, but it also did some major damage to the nation as a whole.
In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, the severe disruption to refining capacity caused a large spike in energy prices as the nation struggled to cope with the devastation. No less than 25 percent of the nation's petroleum comes from the Gulf Coast states and Mississippi is vital to that industry. In fact, petroleum and its products account for 80% of Mississippi's total mineral production.
The destruction to the offshore fishing industry in Mississippi was also devastating to the state but it did not have anywhere near the impact as the loss of the refining facilities. Biloxi is a major hub for the shrimp industry and it was virtually wiped out by Katrina.
But no matter how terrible the destruction of Hurricane Katrina was, the state will not only survive, it will eventually thrive. The money being used to rebuild the Gulf Coast states like Mississippi that were damaged by the hurricane will ultimately create a stronger state with an even brighter economic future.
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Wilma Larwill is the chief writer for, and editor of At Mississippi, there's a wealth of knowledge on the website, plus while you're there sign up for the free newsletter. If you want to read more Mississippi articles go to: www.atmississippi.com/articles
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