SBA Honors Louisiana Public Official for Outstanding Disaster Recovery Efforts

                          Release Date: June 4, 2013                                                    MediaContact: Richard Jenkins

                          Release Number: LA 13271-17                                            Phone: (916) 735-1500

SBA Honors Louisiana Public Official for Outstanding Disaster Recovery Efforts

SACRAMENTO – St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie H. Robottom will receive the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Phoenix Award for her outstanding contribution to disaster recovery in her role as a public officialin the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac.

The award will be presented to Robottom during a breakfast event held in Washington, D.C. June 21, during National Small Business Week. Since 1998, the SBA has presented 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.

When the National Weather Service sent out the first Hurricane Isaac warning on Sunday, August 26, 2012, Robottom took action. The St. John the Baptist Parish president coordinated with local officials to secure road barricades in anticipation of flooding, and executed door-to-door evacuation efforts. She also shared storm updates with parish residents via press releases and social media. By Wednesday, more than 3,000 residents and 200 pets were evacuated. Hurricane Isaac’s wake left five feet of floodwater, mountains of debris, power outages and an emotionally devastated community. Robottom’s decisive leadership in the early stage of the area’s recovery had a calming, unifying impact.

First, she organized the distribution of food, ice, water and tarps. The parish president then directed her staff to work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Louisiana Housing Task Force and FEMA to address housing needs of residents. Robottom also worked with SBA, the Louisiana Department of Economic Development and the local Small Business Development Center to establish a Business Recovery Center. She connected with an association that educated residents about building contractor fraud, and set up a volunteer center where the elderly and disabled could get help. Meanwhile, Robottom went to Washington D.C. to testify before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee to advocate for levee protection and parish recovery. With an uplifting message and a determination to rebuild better and stronger, Robottom demonstrated vision and tenacity as she tirelessly led the efforts to make St. John the Baptist Parish whole again.

“The Phoenix Award is an acknowledgment of heroic work and a recognition of the contributions made to disaster recovery,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. “Natalie Robottom displayed tremendous courage and resourcefulness in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, and she exemplifies the spirit one must have to rebuild after a disaster like this.”

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Events on the National Small Business Week schedule will be available for viewing through SBA’s free, live webcasting, which will be accessible at www.sba.gov/smallbusinessweek. Those interested can register online at the same site, where additional information (updated weekly) is available about registration, awards ceremonies, small business forums, and educational sessions.

The SBA makes low-interest 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.

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Every year since 1963, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight through National Small Business Week the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. This year’s events will be held

June 16-21, in Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. offering tips, tools and trainings for small businesses to start, succeed and grow. In addition to in-person events, small business owners can participate in online-only panel discussions on hot topics like social media and business financing starting daily at 4pm ET. All events, in-person and online, will be streamed live onwww.sba.gov/smallbusinessweek. Also visit this site for a full schedule of events and additional information. The event hashtag is #SBW2013.

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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 sbw@sba.gov. Cosponsorship Authorization #SBW2013.