Several Mississippi Power retirees along the Coast have agreed to share their time and serve as guides at the Katrina +10 Exhibit, open now through Labor Day at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi.
The company’s exhibit will cover how its 1,200 employees led 12,000 workers from across the country to restore electricity to all of its customers who could receive it within 12 days after the storm.
“The group’s knowledge of the company and their involvement in our communities make them excellent guides for the exhibit,” said Biloxi District Manager Stephen Schruff. “It provides an opportunity for them to share their own stories and make the exhibit a positive experience for visitors.”
There was a palpable silence during the viewing of the exhibit by the retirees. Many walked in and stood still for a moment before they went around the room looking at photographs of the destruction and recovery of the company’s electrical system.
Among the volunteers was retiree Rufus Smith, who headed Supply Chain Management at Mississippi Power when Katrina hit in 2005. At the exhibit, he viewed a video of himself made shortly after the storm discussing the company’s restoration efforts.
“Watching that video brought a flood of emotions,” said Smith. “I found strength in those around me who worked to bring our company and our community back together. Our employees put the needs of others before their own. I told one interviewer at the time that our recovery efforts reminded me of William Faulkner’s speech when he received his Nobel Prize for literature, ‘…man will not merely endure; he will prevail. He is immortal…he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.’”
More than 10,000 visitors have toured the Katrina+10 Exhibit and that number is expected to grow beyond the initial prediction of more than 50,000.
Retiree Raymos McMillon recently shared his volunteer experience with Schruff. “I enjoyed the day and talking with the visitors,” said McMillon. “I feel the exhibit made a positive impression on them. We had a constant flow of visitors, with about 80 percent of them being from out-of-state. Some of them came from as far as Pennsylvania and Colorado.
“The comments I heard most often from the visitors were their amazement on how efficiently Mississippi Power managed so many workers to restore power in only 12 days. They also commented on our safety record of three incidents with such a large number of people working in such a hazardous environment.”
The Katrina +10 Exhibit is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on the exhibit visit katrinaplus10.