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The unexpected provides opportunity as well as challenges, as W. Anderson Baker III can attest firsthand. The president of Gillis, Ellis & Baker Inc.–an independent agency in New Orleans founded in 1933–went fishing on Friday afternoon, Aug. 26, 2005, after hearing a National Weather Service report that Hurricane Katrina was heading for Tallahassee, Fla.

When the eye of the hurricane hit the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts and then New Orleans on Monday, Aug. 29, Mr. Baker was at his new country home in Poplarville, Miss., with his extended family of 14 people as the eye of the hurricane flew right past.

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