At last week’s PCA Spring Congress, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour gave the keynote address on leadership, resilience, and rebuilding. Barbour spoke about the challenges posed by Hurricane Katrina and the responses of systems, infrastructure, and people, both immediate and long term.

It was the worst natural disaster in American history, and as Barbour spoke of the devastation, he recalled a new phrase they coined. “We got slabbed!” The phrase came after seeing a side-by-side photo of Louisiana and Mississippi and on the Mississippi side; all you can see were concrete slabs in place of where homes use to stand.

“I wrote a book named “America’s Great Storm”, which is aptly named because this was the most destructive storm to have ever hit the United States. Regrettably, it was my state’s burden to bear the grunt of that hurricane,” said Barbour.

Barbour stressed the importance of preparation, building materials, and the strength of community. “It looked like the hand of God had wiped away parts of the coast. That storm surge was like a washing machine, it just ripped everything to shreds. I will say though, not the concrete. One thing that’s very clear after you see something like this is the difference in resilience in building materials.”

PCA, among other associations, has stressed promoting concrete as a resilient, durable material.  During an interview at the World of Concrete, Christi Collins, executive director of the American Concrete Pumping Association, talks about the threat from the wood industry and how to work together to counter it.

Barbour concluded, “In my state, there is a whole lot more concrete being used today than there was before Hurricane Katrina.”