ATLANTA, April 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For his tireless work and calm leadership in the aftermath of the devastating tornado that destroyed his small town, Mayor Gregg Kennedy of Smithville, Mississippi will receive the U.S. Small Business Administration's Phoenix Award for his outstanding contribution to disaster recovery in his role as a public official.
When they heard the tornado warning sirens at 2:30 p.m. on April 27, 2011, Mayor Kennedy and two city clerks took cover under a boardroom table at Town Hall. Ten seconds later, the trio looked skyward. The building and the rest of Smithville was gone.
In less than a minute, the fierce tornado packing 205 mph winds had killed 16 residents, destroyed 153 homes, four churches, the Town Hall, the police headquarters and 14 of the 15 businesses in the one-square-mile area that used to be Smithville. Mayor Kennedy took quick action, working with a doctor to set up a makeshift hospital. He organized the search and rescue efforts, coordinated the restoration of the town's infrastructure, and ran the emergency command center.
The mayor, who serves on a part-time basis, also took a six-month leave of absence from his full-time job to support the town's recovery efforts. Working for days without sleep, Mayor Kennedy became a symbol of optimism for Smithville residents and set into motion the foundation for the town's rebirth, rebuilding better, as he said, "for generations to come."
For his display of resilience and dedication to the recovery of Smithville, Mayor Kennedy will receive the 2012 Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official.
"The Phoenix Award is an acknowledgment of an individual's heroic work and a recognition of the contributions they make to the recovery of their communities," said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. "Mayor Gregg Kennedy displayed tremendous courage and resourcefulness in the aftermath of the tornado, and he exemplifies the spirit one must have to rebuild after a disaster like this."
The Phoenix Awards will be presented on May 21, 2012, during the U.S. Small Business Administration's National Small Business Week celebration, May 20-26, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. Events can be viewed live online through the free webcasting service, accessible at http://www.nationalsmallbusinessweek.com
Additional information on National Small Business Week, including the schedule and registration information, is available at www.nationalsmallbusinessweek.com.
Since 1998, the SBA has given the Phoenix Award 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.
The SBA makes low-interest, taxpayer-backed disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profit organizations of all sizes. More information about the disaster assistance program is available at www.sba.gov/disasterassistance.
Small Business Week 2012 sponsors and cosponsors include: Association of Small Business Development Companies, AT&T, Dun & Bradstreet, InterContinental Hotels Group, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, National Association of Development Companies, National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, National Association for the Self-Employed, National Small Business Association, Neustar, Northrop Grumman, Office Depot, PAYCHEX, Prudential, Raytheon, The Sage Group Salesgenie, SCORE, Small Business Investor Alliance, T-Mobile, VISA, and Women Impacting Public Policy.
The U.S. Small Business Administration's participation in this cosponsored activity does not constitute an express or implied endorsement of any cosponsor's, donor's, grantee's, contractor's or participant's opinions, products, or services. All SBA programs and cosponsored programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made, if requested at least 2 weeks in advance, by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Cosponsorship Authorization #SBW2012
Contact: Michael Lampton
SOURCE U.S. Small Business Administration