Oral History with Congressman Gene Taylor (2008)

Image as text reads: Mississippi Oral History Program; Hurricane Katrina Oral History Project An Oral History with Congressman Gene Taylor Interviewers: Dariusz Grabka and Alanna Tobia; Volume 902; 2008

Gene Taylor is an American politician known for his lengthy career, stretching from his time in the Mississippi Senate to his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives. Born in 1953, Taylor grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, serving in the Coast Guard from 1971 to 1984. His political career began as part of the Bay St. Louis City Council in 1981 and then later in his election to the Mississippi Senate in 1983 where he served until 1989. From that point forward, until 2011, Congressman Taylor served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of the Democratic Party, with a general political focus on the armed forces. Serving through four separate presidential administrations, through 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and through the landfall of Hurricane Katrina and following rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, Congressman Taylor's tenure saw its fair share of major events.

Part of a larger project on Hurricane Katrina, An Oral History with Congressman Gene Taylor is an oral account of Taylor's experiences with the storm and his leadership of subsequent recovery efforts. Being home in Mississippi rather than in D.C. during the period of the storm, Taylor gives a harrowing and surreal description of the disaster, immediately before, during, and after landfall. He describes his attempts to prepare his house for the storm to minimize damage before his evacuation further inland. After the worst passed, he and his son journeyed back to their home in Bay St. Louis by boat, with some difficulty arriving at the flooded remains of their neighborhood, the bizarre experience of attempting to navigate the water-covered, unrecognizable land, and the tragic discovery of every house in his neighborhood being completely gone. The remainder of the account details the Congressman's response, his swift action in contacting the national guard to organize disaster relief, and general measures to alleviate the suffering caused by the storm.

The Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at Southern Miss conducts interviews on a variety of subjects and events. One of over 1300 interviews, Gene Taylor's account of Katrina can be found in Special Collections both as a transcription and audio alongside a sizable research-ready manuscript collection from the congressman himself.

For more information on the Oral History volume contact or ; for information on the Gene Taylor Collection in Historical Manuscripts contact .

Source Consulted:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Taylor_(Mississippi_politician) (General Biographical Info)

Text by Uriah Jenkins, Records Management Specialist