SBA Honors Outstanding Disaster Recovery Efforts
Two Mississippi residents who provided leadership and clear-headed disaster relief coordination in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, an owner of a Massachusetts printing outfit that was nearly destroyed by flood waters, and a volunteer who helped with rescue efforts after flooding struck an upstate New York town, were presented with Phoenix Awards by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The Phoenix Award is an acknowledgment of their heroic efforts, and a token of appreciation for their contributions to the physical and economic recovery of their communities.
John Thomas Longo, Mayor, Waveland, MS, received the Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official. Hurricane Katrina cut off Waveland from the rest of the world in August 2005; the town was obliterated, and 80 percent of the population was homeless. Mayor Longo had just undergone knee surgery, and he was in tremendous pain during the evacuation and rescue efforts, yet he worked tirelessly to save lives and reassure survivors. He commandeered a local park to establish temporary housing and helped gather resources needed to rebuild Waveland.
John W. Campbell, III, of Pass Christian, MS, received the Phoenix Award for his Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Volunteer. Even though his home and business were destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, John Campbell selflessly reached out to others, becoming a disaster relief volunteer coordinator. Using his cell phone to broadcast pleas for help, John received many responses from volunteer organizations and directed them to areas where help was needed. At his own expense, he housed and fed volunteers for months, working with them to clean debris, paint, and help the town rebuild.
Patrick Turley, President, Turley Publications, Inc., of Palmer, MA, received the Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery. One of New England’s largest community and university newspaper printers, Turley Publications was forced to stop the presses in October 2005 when floodwaters caused property losses worth $993,000. Patrick Turley decided he wasn’t going to miss a deadline. He rallied employees to help with the cleanup, got electricity restored, and printed two university newspapers on time. Turley received an SBA disaster loan and within five months the plant was running at full capacity.
Gregory L. Jenkins of Conklin, NY, received the Phoenix Award for his Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Volunteer. The 2006 Susquehanna River floods were among the worst in the state’s history. Gregory Jenkins responded to the devastation in Conklin by rescuing neighbors and helping coordinate broader rescue efforts by the National Guard. In the months after the flood, Jenkins organized nearly 300 volunteers to help provide more than 20,000 meals to survivors, support local clean-up efforts, and distribute supplies and tools to help his neighbors rebuild their homes.
Since 1998, the SBA has presented the Phoenix Awards to business owners and individuals who displayed courage, resourcefulness, and tenacity in the aftermath of a disaster, while contributing to the rebuilding of their communities. The SBA makes low-interest, taxpayer-backed disaster loans to homeowners, renters, and businesses of all sizes.
In the aftermath of the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, the SBA has approved a net $7.1 billion in disaster loans to about 120,000 hurricane survivors, the largest response in the agency’s 54-year history.