Feature Story from 2005
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most people just want to get their life back together quickly after a storm deals a devastating blow to their house, but rushing too fast can compound the problem.
Homeowners across the Southeast are trying to reassemble the pieces of their homes and belongings after Hurricane Katrina tore through Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama Monday. It will take several weeks to get basic services back to many areas, and months for life to even begin to resemble what it used to be.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina strikes the state, officials add price gouging and illegitimate charities to the list of things they must deal with.
Bobbie Shaffett, associate professor of human sciences with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said Mississippians are a generous people, but there are always a few people who see a disaster as an opportunity to scam others.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Getting a settlement from an insurance company in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, expected to be the most costly disaster in U.S. history, is a necessary early step in rebuilding lives.
Mississippi State University experts are urging those with claims to make safety and documentation top priorities when returning home and cleaning up after the disaster.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- While pets are considered family during the good times, a disaster like Hurricane Katrina makes them runners-up.
Dr. James Watson, state veterinarian with the Board of Animal Health in the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, said Wednesday (Sept. 1) that the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson is accepting rescued animals, agricenters around the state have taken in horses, and plans are being made to set up animal shelters in South Mississippi.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hurricane damage threatens two things necessary for human and animal survival: water and food. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina's flood waters, people are discovering how precious clean drinking water can be.
Jimmy Bonner, water quality specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said boil-water notices have been prevalent across the state and consumers should follow that advice.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Pets separated from their owners or injured in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are finding shelter at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. Trained professionals and volunteers staff the shelter.
"People come first in an emergency, but there are animals that need help as a result of the hurricane," said Dr. Carla Huston, an assistant professor at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the Mississippi Animal Response Team. "We will assist state veterinarian Dr. James Watson as long as we're needed."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Use caution while operating generators in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to avoid further damage to homes and health.
Herb Willcutt, safety specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said generators can be an invaluable resource after a disaster, but improper use can be deadly.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's agricultural industry may have survived the initial impact of Hurricane Katrina only to become the victim of exorbitant fuel prices if farmers can find supplies at all.
Reports from each of Mississippi's agricultural commodities seem to have the same primary concern: fuel. The state's crops facing major challenges related to the fuel situation include poultry, timber, cotton, soybeans, catfish, dairy, peanuts and horticultural crops.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Transporting gasoline to Hurricane Katrina victims may seem helpful, but the task actually is extremely dangerous.
Ted Gordon, a Mississippi State University Extension Service safety specialist at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona, urged people to keep safety in mind when filling containers with gasoline.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Thousands of buildings across the Gulf Coast may have survived the winds of Katrina only to fall victim to health-threatening mold spores.
"Mold and mildew are always challenges in Mississippi because they thrive in warm, humid, and damp or water-damaged conditions," said Herb Willcutt, safety specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. "The storm surge and heavy rains brought in by Katrina are likely to contribute to an explosion of mold spores in these areas."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Residents across Katrina-damaged areas are being discouraged from burning debris left in the hurricane's path.
Glenn Hughes, a forestry professor with Mississippi State University's Extension Service and a resident of Hattiesburg, said Mississippi residents should delay brush fires until conditions improve in the disaster area.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Without electricity to produce milk, Mississippi dairy farmers and processors suffered significant, direct economic losses from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina that average an estimated $35,000 per farm.
Hurricane Katrina tracked through the middle of Walthall, Marion and Lincoln counties, the state's highest populated dairy counties. About 75 percent of the state's 230 dairy farms are located south of Interstate 20, and more than 50 percent of these farms are concentrated in the hard-hit counties near McComb and Brookhaven.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Simple computers with Internet access are easing part of the emotional burden of evacuees desperate to reconnect with family.
When Hurricane Katrina hit the state with its high winds and devastating water, much of the communication infrastructure in the lower one-third of the state was lost in a few hours. Hundreds of lives were also lost in that brief span.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Animals from family pets to commercial livestock herds and poultry flocks are important parts of life in the storm-ravaged areas of Mississippi.
A toll-free number has been set up by the Mississippi Board of Animal Health and staffed by Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine for calls about all animal-related issues. The number is (888) 722-3106.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hurricane Katrina closed the three ports serving Mississippi agricultural commodities, so products leaving the state face new challenges and increased costs.
The Port of Gulfport was wiped clean of its infrastructure, the Port of Pascagoula was damaged, and the Port of New Orleans, while not substantially damaged, has little infrastructure and few employees left to support it. All three served Mississippi producers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hurricane Katrina claimed many homes on the Gulf Coast, taking with her valuable financial and personal documents that families will want to replace.
Bobbie Shaffett, Mississippi State University Extension Service family resource management specialist, said knowing where to look for help can make this job easier and quicker.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Garden and landscape enthusiasts will flock to the Fall Flower & Garden Fest at the Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs on Oct. 14 and 15 for the latest plant recommendations and information on urban trees.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi landowners interested in earning additional revenue from their land can take part in a Oct. 4 workshop focusing on natural resource enterprises.
The one-day workshop will take place at Birdlands Plantation near Como in Panola County. Natural resource enterprises include a variety of activities such as fee hunting and fishing, trail riding, agritourism, wildlife watching, and the operation of bed and breakfasts.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Thousands of miles and millions of dollars worth of fences in south Mississippi were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, leaving producers with overwhelming odds if they continue in the cattle business.
Mike Keene, area livestock and forages agent for Mississippi State University's Extension Service, is based in Hattiesburg. He said help is arriving in the form of fencing supplies and feed, but challenges abound for farmers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi producers suffering losses from Hurricane Katrina can apply for a portion of the $170 million in disaster assistance made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Mississippi has $7.1 million earmarked through the Emergency Conservation Program. Other funds are available through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, Emergency Loan Program, Farm Storage Facility Loans and the Disaster Debt Set-Aside Program.