As this issue of the Mississippi Business Journal went to press in Hattiesburg last Wednesday, a ferocious storm was bearing down on the Gulf Coast. Communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida had become ghost towns as residents fled inland to escape the wind, rain and storm surge. Ivan was mere hours from an expected landfall somewhere along the Alabama-Mississippi state line, with Pascagoula as the most likely target, as the MBJ staff wrapped up this edition.
As we worked in Jackson, our thoughts and conversations centered on friends, family and colleagues affected by Hurricane Ivan. We also watched the impact that storm preparations, the coastal evacuation and impending arrival of destructive weather was having on Mississippi business and industry. And even before the Ivan’s track was absolutely certain, the impact was huge.
Casinos were shut down. Travelers left — or were forced to cancel trips altogether. Hattiesburg saw the Thursday night Southern Miss-California football game postponed. Building supply retailers sold out of plywood and generators. Grocery store shelves were picked clean of canned goods, bread and bottled water. Hotels, motels and B&Bs were packed.
And on it went with big industries shut down, shipping interrupted and builders and insurance agents anticipating the aftermath, and that’s where we find ourselves now. By the time you read this copy of the Business Journal, the remnants of Ivan ought to be gone.
As we assess the damage, clean up and rebuild, it’s important for every Mississippian to remember one thing: There is nothing that we cannot do as long as we pull together.