Former EMA Director Reflects on Hurricane Katrina

Joe Spraggins took over as director of Harrison County’s Emergency Management Agency on August 29th, 2005.
Nothing could prepare the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency or its new director, Joe Spraggins, for what happened on August 29th, 2005. “It was pretty hectic that day. We begged everyone to leave that we could. We had done everything in our power at that time and now the storm was on us and we had to decide what we could do to then recover as many people as possible and save lives.”
And save lives they did, as Spraggins’ 34 years of military experience was put to the test.
Former Governor Haley Barbour said, “As Colonel Spraggins said downtown Gulfport looks like Nagasaki, which I thought was an overstatement until I saw it.”
“It was about a day after the storm, I was able to get on the helicopter with the adjunct general through the Governor and see the people still fighting for their lives. If you wanted to pick a major lesson it’s that you can never be too prepared. Everybody thought Camille was the storm of storms, it really did a devastation, where Katrina came in and did 30 or 40 miles of that,” said Spraggins.
But as Barbour is famous for saying, we Mississippians did pull ourselves up by our bootstraps with a lot of faith and the helping hand of volunteers.
“Katrina was an act of nature and what we do after is an act of God,” said Spraggins,
For more video and photos of Katrina’s destruction, you can go to the Clarion-Ledger at

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