During this year’s Small Business Week, the Small Business Administration, as it has since 1998, presented Phoenix Awards to business owners, public officials and volunteers who displayed selflessness, ingenuity and tenacity in the aftermath of a disaster, while contributing to the rebuilding of their communities.
SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills said, “These individuals displayed tremendous courage and resourcefulness in the midst of several devastating disasters. The Phoenix Award acknowledges their heroic efforts, and is a token of appreciation for their contributions to the economic recovery of their communities.”
Mayor Gregg Kennedy of Smithville, Miss., received the Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official. When they heard the tornado warning sirens around 2:30 p.m. on April 27, 2011, Kennedy and two city clerks took cover under a boardroom table at Town Hall. Ten seconds later, the building and the rest of Smithville was gone. In less than a minute, the tornado’s 205 mph winds had killed 16, destroyed 153 homes, four churches, the police headquarters and 14 of the 15 businesses in the one-square-mile area of Smithville. Kennedy took quick action, working with a doctor to set up a makeshift hospital, organizing search and rescue efforts, coordinating restoration of the town’s infrastructure, and running the emergency command center. Working for days without sleep, Kennedy became a symbol of optimism for Smithville residents and set the town on the road to rebirth.
More on accompanying awardees, Barry O’Donovan, Mike Fisher, Alfred Mignacci, can be found here.
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