A Surprise “Director of Storm Logistics” for Katrina

One day, Melvin Wilson was simply a marketing manager for small 1 250-employee Mississippi Power in Gulfport, Mississippi.

But the next day, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and Gulfport, he was suddenly the firm’s “Director of Storm Logistics,” responsible for restoring power to 195,000 customers within 12 days.

Mississipi Construction

Mississipi Construction

Although Mississippi Power’s primary storm centre at headquarters was knocked out, they had a backup storm centre 5 miles inland. However, when Wilson got there, the cars were floating in the car park .

So he moved his small group in charge to a third location, an old service office without electricity or running water. In spite of the phone lines being down, the group managed to get word of their needs to the outside world and within days, 11,000 repairmen from 24 states and Canada came to help.

To support the 11,000 workers, the group needed housing, beds, food, clean water, showers, laundry, bulldozers, 5000 trucks, 140,000 gallons of fuel each day, 8000 tetanus shots, and hundreds of other such items.

Directing such a massive project as the restoration of power was far beyond the experience of little Mississippi power’s group, but they succeeded, and the power was restored to every customer who could handle it within 12 days.

Source: D. Cauchon, “The Little Company That Could,” USA Today, October 9, 2005.

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