Monday, August 24, 2015

Katrina memories—share yours

This week you will see documentaries and news coverage looking back at Hurricane Katrina which slammed the Mississippi and Louisiana coast 10 years ago.  How was the weather in South Mississippi going to affect us here at the top of the state?  Believe me, it did.

Photos provided by Robert Latham

I had just assumed the duties as Director of Public Relations at Northwest Mississippi Community College.  Right before we had our football season opener, our new coach moved the team to the college's Multipurpose Livestock Arena to practice since rain was already heavy in our area.  Little did he know that there would be no game that week. Some of our sister community colleges on the coast took a big hit.

A community meeting was held in the Haraway Center on the Northwest campus.  City officials, emergency management personnel, elected officials, a local veterinarian and businessmen gathered to discuss how the city could help those fleeing from the coast.

An emergency shelter was established at the Family Life Center at the First Baptist Church of Senatobia.  Northwest cheerleaders took turns playing with the children there to keep them occupied.  Cosmetology students went over to do nails for the evacuees while they waited in the temporary shelter.

Another major Senatobia connection was the presence of Robert Latham, executive director of Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).  Latham, a Senatobia native, was there on the front lines of the disaster from beginning to end.

Latham recalls  "FEMA FCO Bill Carwile, Adjutant General “Hac” Cross meeting Governor Haley Barbour when he landed on Thursday after Katrina made landfall on Monday.  The Governor made daily trips to the coast beginning on Tuesday. "

"The photo (below, left) is of particular importance since it was the first time that the Governor’s major response cabinet members were able to get together after landfall," says Latham.  "This was right after we met him on the runway after landing in the previous picture.  Charlie Williams, also of Senatobia, who was Governor Barbour’s Chief of Staff is sitting to my left."

Latham also submitted this photo showing the sea of FEMA trailers that were brought in to provide relief for those whose homes were destroyed.

Share with me your Senatobia/Tate County Katrina memories. I'll keep them posted this week in memory of all those who suffered through Katrina.


  1. When Katrina hit, I was an out of work journalist. I had just left my job as News Editor at The Democrat, and in just 5 short months, you were going to hire me at Northwest (though neither of us probably knew that just yet!) I had known Robert Latham for a number of years when he was Senatobia Fire Chief, and Tate County Emergency Management director. He called and needed me for the MEMA PR unit, and I went. It was a most stressful time, but I learned something about the people of Mississippi during that time. What you saw on television in New Orleans was not the case in Mississippi. People banded together and worked hard to battle the aftereffects of this thing called Katrina. Robert Latham knew we would face a major disaster- it was only a matter of time, and he had been and was as prepared as he could be for it. I'm not saying every thing went smooth as silk, but in the brief time I spent on the inside, I am saying we were way better off than our neighbors to the west. I credit Robert and all of the hard working Mississippians who gave up hearth and home to go and help those who had no homes. I would not live anywhere else. God bless all who suffered during that time, and all who worked hard to mend broken hearts and lives.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience with us LaJuan. Mississippi showed her true colors in responding to this disaster thanks to volunteers like you.