Five years ago yesterday, the worst natural disaster of our lifetime made landfall over Waveland, Mississippi. Hurricane Katrina brought 125 mile per hours winds with it. It spanned 120 miles. By the time the storm dissipated after plowing through Mississippi and Louisiana, it was the costliest natural disaster in American history and one of the five deadliest hurricanes of all time.
Within hours of the time the rain and wind stopped, people emerged from their homes to find roads blocked, power lines downed, homes flooded, and friends and neighbors injured or worse, often cut off from access to the outside world. It was in that moment of extreme crisis that we saw the true character of Mississippi. In front of the world on international television, Mississippians banded together with chain saws, four-wheelers, and pick-ups. We started digging our way out of the rubble. And we moved on.
Five years later, the memory of that storm still lingers, but the strength and ingenuity of our people show that we have emerged from the disaster stronger than ever. We emerged from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina because of the resolve of our spirit. We took matters into our own hands, helping friends and neighbors, forging together as a community. We rebuilt.
Today we face more tough times thanks to a global financial crisis. Jobless numbers have skyrocketed. Economic growth is stagnant. People are hurting. But when I think about the way we came together five years ago and the strength we showed then, I cannot help but be optimistic. We survived five years ago. We will survive this today.
America can emerge stronger than ever from these hard economic times. Just as it did with Katrina, though, our destiny lies in our own hands. If we continue the misguided policies of the last two years, we will jeopardize our future. If we take our country back now, our future can be as bright as we want it to be. As long as we return common sense to government, as long as we focus on job creation, and as long as we show the determination that we showed during our darkest hour, we will reclaim the America that we love. I have faith that we will make the decisions necessary to make that reclamation happen. I'm not going to stop working until it does, and I need you working right alongside me. This is the time we send the world another message about the character of the people of Mississippi.