With oilspill, the resilience of Mississippi’s Gulf is put to the test

BILOXI, MS — The worst natural disaster in U.S. history. The worst economic recession in generations. Now, the worst man-made disaster in U.S. history.

The people of South Mississippi have often been called “resilient” – a reputation hard-earned after Hurricane Camille in 1969, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and repeated often in national media reports. That resilience is being put to the test..

“I had a bank examiner in here the other day, and he asked that same question, ‘How are things going?'” longtime Coast banker Chevis Swetman said. “I told him, ‘Well, you know, we had Hurricane Katrina in ’05. In December ’07 the national economic meltdown started, then about 50 days ago, this oil spill started.’ I said, ‘You know, I’m just looking for the plague of locusts to show up next week.’ He said, ‘You people are pretty resilient.’ I said, ‘We are pretty resilient, but the question is, how much more can we take?’ I know we’ll weather this. But heck, at some point it starts to seem like piling on in a football game.”

Casino executive Keith Crosby calls it “another sucker punch.” But, he notes, “We’re getting used to them, and we’re getting pretty good at playing over our head.”

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6/14/10