January 6, 2012 11:58:00 AM
By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS
PEARL -- Mississippi's emergency operations center was named Thursday for departing Gov. Haley Barbour, who said he is sharing the tribute with all those who respond to hurricanes, floods and other disasters in the state.
About 100 elected officials, emergency responders and others gathered for a ceremony at the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency headquarters in rural Rankin County. Workers pulled back a blue cloth to reveal the new lettering naming it the Haley R. Barbour Building.
Legislators voted last year to name the MEMA building for Barbour, who leaves office next Tuesday. He had been in office just over a year and a half when Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, smashing across the Gulf Coast regions of Mississippi and Louisiana.
Robert Latham, MEMA's director during Katrina and the months that followed, said Barbour led Mississippi residents well through a difficult time.
Barbour, in turn, praised his wife Marsha for spending three months in the hard-hit region helping those leading a large-scale recovery effort.
"It is the Haley and Marsha Barbour Center to me," Barbour told those gathered.
The state-of-the-art facility opened in 2006. Barbour said those who work in the building perform a critical service, recalling how they came to the aid of victims of last year's Mississippi River flooding and a series of destructive tornadoes.
"Those are the kind of people this building exists to help," he said.
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