We asked George Schloegel, CEO of Hancock Bank, about Katrina and its aftermath in our tour of the Gulf Coast. He told us, “I’ve got four grown children and three of them lost everything that they have. But today they are better off than at anytime in their life. They understand that material things are not so important. Their characters have been deepened.”
“At Christmas time I asked my grandkids what they wanted for Christmas. They told me, ‘Grandpa, we don’t need anything.’ They realize that material things aren’t so important. It has been a valuable lesson for our entire family.”
“This is America….We have problems…We learn to deal with them.”
George talked about how people in Mississippi worked together to start the rebuilding process. “Our governor, Haley Barbour, didn’t stick around here for photo-ops. He was in Washington D. C. making sure that we had funding for our recovery. He got $4 billion for Mississippi and $13 billion for New Orleans.”
“President Bush has been here on the ground 14 times and Laura 12. They have been very visible symbols of our rebuilding.”
George also talked about New Orleans, where he has a branch, “The problems in New Orleans aren’t the Federal government’s fault. It falls squarely upon the people of New Orleans. They have been spending money in the wrong places. They’ve been getting money for 50 years for their levies but putting the money in other places.”
I’ve now been to the Gulf Coast four times since Katrina and am always amazed at the resiliency and determination of the people there. They are rebuilding and making some wonderful progress in getting their lives back on a more normal keel.