In 2005, Coastal Mississippi suffered over $100 billion of damage from Hurricane Katrina. In response, Congress directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an analysis and design for comprehensive improvements in coastal Mississippi.
Group Solutions was engaged to design and facilitate a transparent process that would include Federal, State and Local government agencies, coastal employers, conservation groups and concerned citizens in identifying priorities and projects for short-term coastal recovery.
Conflicting mandates for Federal and State Agencies needed to be resolved. Mistrust of the Corps was high in many communities, especially in areas where property buyouts were being considered. Conservation groups feared massive construction projects and an armored coastline. State and local agencies had a long history of not being consulted on Corps decisions and there was some skepticism what they shared would be seriously considered.
10 facilitated sessions were conducted with separate stakeholder groups to focus on commonality and minimize conflict. Over 2,000 stakeholders participated or submitted comments.
These sessions developed, refined and ultimately recommended 15 projects to Congress as part of the Interim Report. All 15 projects were authorized and funded.
Reviewers in Washington praised the extensive community outreach and well-developed selection criteria for the project recommendations.
One local city council member summarized his support for the recommendations and the extensive process of community involvement by telling us “this is the way government is supposed to work!”