Eight years after Hurricane Katrina, and Mississippi has set the national standard for recovery done right. Even immediately after the storm, our nation began to see that Mississippi’s recovery would be different. They saw we were determined to build back stronger, better and more prepared for the next disaster. Mississippi’s recovery, as Governor Barbour said at the time, is about more than just rebuilding back what we had, but going beyond that, seizing the opportunity to implement a long-term plan that saves lives, protects property and makes our infrastructure and economy much more resilient in the future.
At the time of Hurricane Katrina, I was Deputy Director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. We acted quickly to make sure MDES employees were safe and had supplies. That experience has forever ingrained in my management philosophy the need to always have a disaster plan in place. That’s why, as the State Treasurer, I acted early within my term to ensure the State’s Treasury was capable of conducting business in the event of another major disaster. After all, the Office of the State Treasurer handles about $10 million in state transactions every day, about $25 billion a year — not to mention managing about $3 billion in state investments. So, it’s critical that this office not miss a day, that we have an aggressive continuity plan which can withstand the worst threats.
Specifically, since taking office 18 months ago, I have implemented a plan that protects the Office of the State Treasurer with two off site backup systems, ensuring our records are double protected during a disaster. I’ve also installed a fire suppression system to protect the Treasury’s mainframe computers. Even if the state office buildings are inaccessible or inoperable, we now have the ability to conduct all Treasury office business offsite if required. These updates in addition to contracts we’ve put in place with financial institutions will ensure transactions to and from the Treasury can take place even if our backup system fails. If there is one lesson Mississippians have learned from Katrina, it’s to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.