BILOXI, MS. (WDAM) - Wednesday's emergency response seminar in Biloxi briefed Lieutenant Governors from all over the country on how Mississippi is responding to the current crisis in the Gulf. Governor Haley Barbour gave the keynote address.
Barbour said, "The Mississippi Gulf Coast is virtually unaffected as far as the oil spill is concerned except economically. Our beaches are beautiful, the waters are clear, the fishing is fine - but."
And that "but" has a lot to do with visitors leery about vacationing on the coast, due to what the Governor said are incomplete media reports about the region.
Governor Haley Barbour had some good news and some bad news when it comes to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The bad news is the financial hit this area has taken due to the oil spill. Tourism revenues are down forty percent. The good news is all of the re-building work that has taken place along the coast nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina.
Barbour added that, "Almost anywhere on the coast except the very far west, you couldn't really tell anything had happened if you didn't know what it looked like before. As you get down right on the beach some of that is still snaggle tooth because there are people who haven't decided whether they want to build a house back there."
However, the Governor says 98-percent of South Mississippi's residents affected by the storm have returned to the state. Positive progress Lieutenant Governors attending the conference were eager to learn about.
Mississippi's Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant said, "This is as much about South Mississippi as it is about any state in the nation to say we were a community at this point and pulled together and that is something they are seeing very clearly."
Also participating in the conference is Southern Miss's President, Dr. Martha Saunders. The University is helping to sponsor the event.