Mississippi Power employees reflect on Hurricane Katrina

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Ninety-five years and going strong! That’s how long Mississippi Power has been serving its customers, now including 190,000 customers in 23 Mississippi counties.

With the 15 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaching, and a possible deployment unfolding to help those ravished by Hurricane Laura, Mississippi Power officials, past and present, reflect and look forward.

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Watching Hurricane Laura pound our neighbors to the west hits close to home for many of us, especially those of us who lived here in South Mississippi when Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, devastating our Mississippi Gulf Coast, leaving us, including every single Mississippi Power customer in our area, in the dark.

Within 12 days, Mississippi Power had managed to get the lights back on. Retired Coast Division Manager Linda Watts said, “We know how to get the lights back on. We always have been good at that, but as time progressed, even in the first few days, it was evident that was going to be just a piece of what we were going to have do to recover from the storm.”

Sixteen million gallons of salt water flooded the basement of Plant Watson in Gulfport, which housed five generators. Retired Logistics Director Melvin Wilson said, “Unfortunately, Katrina was a larger hurricane than we had planned for, so we had to adapt our plan to Katrina. As you know we brought a lot of people to Mississippi to help us get the lights back on. I think by day three we already had 6,000 people working in our service territory. By day nine, that was nearly 12,000 people.”

There were plenty of lessons learned during and after Katrina, all now put to use in Mississippi Power’s current day strategy and planning. Cedrick Hurd with Mississippi Power said, “So the lessons learned from Katrina have certainly become a baseline part of our planning today.”

Mississippi Power President and CEO Anthony Wilson said, “Just know that all of the lessons learned from that event 15 years ago today we are applying today. I believe we are a better company now than then, and if another storm comes calling, we’re going to be ready.”

As evidenced by the Mississippi Power trucks and employees ready to deploy to help out our neighbors to the west in the wake and aftermath of Hurricane Laura.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!

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