St. John The Baptist Parish News Release

Robottom to Receive National Honor for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery as a Public Official

Robottom to Receive National Honor for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery as a Public Official

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom will be honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the recipient of the Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official. 

The Phoenix Award is presented to business owners, public officials and volunteers who display selflessness, ingenuity and tenacity in the aftermath of a disaster, while contributing to the rebuilding of their communities.  President Robottom earned the award for her hard work and dedication to the recovery of St. John the Baptist Parish in the aftermath Hurricane Isaac. 

On August 29, Hurricane Isaac made landfall in St. John the Baptist Parish flooding more than 7,000 homes and causing severe damage to the small business community.  Through a coordinated effort, over 3,000 residents and 200 pets were evacuated to safety in north Louisiana.  The preparedness efforts of President Robottom and her staff resulted in no lives lost in the storm.  "President Robottom was tireless in her efforts and showed tremendous perseverance, courage and selflessness, even though her family had also personally been affected by the flood", said Mark S. Riley, Deputy Director of GOHSEP. 

Quickly grasping the needs of the community, Robottom organized Federal, State and local resources, as well as faith-based and non-profit organizations to support the community.   In addition to overseeing the opening of the St. John Disaster Recovery Center, Robottom's staff contacted small businesses and analyzed their immediate and long-term needs. She authorized the opening of a Business Call Center to serve as a central location for information on recovery assistance and a Business Resource Center to assist the small business community with low-interest disaster loans and provide technical assistance.  As a result of these initiatives, nearly $91 million in state and federal disaster assistance was approved for business owners. 

Robottom worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Louisiana Housing Task Force and FEMA to address housing needs for residents, provided educational information about building contractor fraud and facilitated the opening of a volunteer center to help single parents, the elderly and disabled.  “Parish President Robottom’ s courage, decisiveness and clear headed leadership helped the community rebound quickly in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Isaac.  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,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. 

Robottom's progressive approach to management was also evident as she embraced the newly created concept of the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) in St. John's recovery efforts.  The NDRF was activated for the first time in Louisiana, with Robottom leading the way in the development and implementation of a multi-level, multi-partner plan for leveraging state and federal assistance.  "President Robottom and her staff stayed up day and night during Hurricane Isaac, leaving behind their homes and families to take care of the citizens of St. John Parish.  Without her leadership and their hard work and dedication, St. John Parish would not have made the strides it has in recovering from this devastating hurricane", said Gerard M. Stolar, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer. 

The award will be presented to Robottom during a breakfast event held in Washington, D.C. June 21, during National Small Business Week. Additional information on National Small Business Week, including the schedule and registration information as well as free live webcasting of the week's events is available at