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Topsy-Elvord Tours Port of New Orleans

December 20, 2005

Doris Topsy-Elvord, President of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, visited New Orleans on Wednesday, December 14, to tour the city’s hurricane-damaged port and distribute toys and school supplies to children affected by Hurricane Katrina. 

The primary purpose of the trip, Topsy-Elvord said, was to assess the damage inflicted on the Port of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, and meet with port officials to discuss how they managed the aftermath of the hurricane and ongoing recovery efforts. After meeting with Port of New Orleans Executive Director Gary LaGrange, port staff, and local law enforcement officials, Topsy-Elvord said, she was able to bring back lessons for the Port of Long Beach on dealing with a natural disaster or other crisis.

“Though I hope we’ll never have to use this kind of advice,” Topsy-Elvord said, “I believe it will be very beneficial for our Board to understand how the Port of New Orleans dealt and is dealing with the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.”

Topsy-Elvord was accompanied by Gus Hein, Executive Officer to the Board, and Jim Grubbs, Director of Development for the South Bay-Long Beach Volunteer Center.

“The biggest lesson for us in Long Beach,” Hein said, “is that a port’s ability to recover from a natural disaster quickly and effectively depends greatly on attention to detail in emergency preparedness plans.” Ports must give “careful consideration to all possible contingencies,” Hein added. 

Her trip was not entirely focused on port operations, Topsy-Elvord said. Representing the City of Long Beach, Topsy-Elvord, in conjunction with the South Bay-Long Beach Volunteer Center and Operation Teddy Bear, presented more than 8,000 toys, teddy bears, backpacks, school supplies and other items to New Orleans schoolchildren. Hundreds of children from throughout New Orleans, whose lives have been severely disrupted by Hurricane Katrina, attended the event at which the supplies were distributed. Topsy-Elvord spoke to the children, offering words of hope and encouragement, before helping distribute the toys and school supplies.


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