Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Message to Garcia

In 1899 Elbert Hubbard, a scholar and learner, teacher and revolutionary businessman from East Aurora, New York wrote “A Message to Garcia.” At 40 million copies, it became the largest selling book of all time and remained so for many decades. It even found its way into many a soldier’s back pack and was required reading for the entire Russian army. Here is an excerpt:

“When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain fastnesses of Cuba - no one knew where. No mail or telegraph could reach him. The President must secure his co-operation, and quickly.

What to do!

Someone said to the President, "There's a fellow by the name of Rowan will find Garcia for you, if anybody can."

Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. He took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and having delivered his letter to Garcia.

The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is he at?" It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this or that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies; do the thing - "carry a message to Garcia!"

General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias.

If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of their effort is for all?

My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the "boss" is away, as well as when he is home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly takes the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets "laid off," nor has to go on strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks will be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town, and village - in every office, shop, store and factory.

The world cries out for such; he is needed, and needed badly - the man who can carry a message to Garcia.”

While the language is male-dominant, a reflection of the times in which Hubbard lived, be clear about one thing:

The women and men who volunteered in Pearlington were those such as Rowan. They knew how to get a “message to Garcia.” They knew how to just get the job done. They knew there were a hundred questions and ten reasons why a thing might not work and only one reason why it would: because it had to.

Thanks be to fire fighters and construction teams; to faith-based groups and Americorps; to countless individuals who showed up to just get the job done. Mistakes were doubtlessly made but, thank God, they were never the mistakes of laziness, inattention and under-zealousness. In a situation wherein underachievement seemed to be the official response, never were more of this kind of volunteer needed.

I pray that such a thing is never visited upon my family and my home. If it ever is, however, I know exactly to whom I’ll look for help, support and comfort. To all the “Rowans” of Pearlington, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being who you are.

Shine on.

"Canada Jon" White

Monday, December 19, 2005

Things are Pumping!

What a great and speedy effort and what a great reason for such a Coalition!

Tim Goodnow, who issued an appeal only this past Friday, reports today:

“The success was 100%. As of today, 75 pumps were secured and installed for 75 new FEMA provided trailers. Approximately 40 volunteers materialized to get the job done, including a few from Pearlington. What an extraordinary effort! Take a moment to receive the acknowledgement.

Lots of people pitched in, including Eileen Powers and Julie Doten. Eileen quickly raised $120. with more to come perhaps; Doug Case from Juneau County sent some pumps Friday from Wisconsin. Dog Soldiers sent $5000 the day before. Two Presbyterian groups, Diamond Head and Gulfport, are pursuing their leads, and one contact in Diamond Head is pursuing his contacts with Hancock County and FEMA to get some leeway on the process required by FEMA to put the trailers in.

Greg Wolfe of the Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi also reports that the Cooperative University Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS has ordered 20 pump units to be delivered to Pearlington. They have an option of buying up to 100 more at the same price. This is the home church of Charlie Holmes, who is working with Greg in Pearlington. They are associated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Additionally, he adds that a $450 donation was received from an individual and is being used to buy pipe and fittings to install pumps as well.

Great work, everyone! Together, we can make a meaningful contribution. Have a great holiday season and I’ll keep you posted. Look for a concrete plan for a Coalition between Christmas and New Year’s.

Canada Jon

Friday, December 16, 2005

Urgent Call to Action!

This was received today from Tim Goodnow of the Dog Soldiers assisting with Conrad's Shed Project:

"FEMA has committed to the Pearlington area, 50-75 trailers that each require a shallow well pump and the manpower to install it when the trailer is set. After speaking with Conrad and Luke today on site, the following describes what we can do to help:

1 - Find pumps and get them to Pearlington ASAP.
2 - Send workers to help install the pumps over the next 15 days.
3 - Send cash to Conrad who will buy the pumps at the local Home Depot and Lowe’s.
4 - Pass this information on to whoever may be able to secure the pumps and deliver them to the site, the Elementary School.

The pump is called a “3/4 horse - shallow well pump” and has a bladder tank that holds approximately 42 gallons. The best configuration is to have the pump mount on top of the tank.

Eileen, will you forward a photo of these pumps, to all?

Terry Collins, who inspects the lot site prior to the trailer being set, said that the contractors who set the trailers will be moved to another area of the coast, if there are not enough pumps. They will not set the trailer if there is not a pump to hook up. People not receiving a trailer this year will be put back on the list for after January 1st.

You may call Conrad directly about this, or me. Conrad’s cell is 504-314-5696.

Conrad is temporarily working on the pumps until we can get enough manpower and resources in place. When there is certainty that the flow of trailers will not stop, he will then go back to our Shed Project.

Best to you all,
Tim Goodnow

Let's see what we can do to resolve this situation. If it can be done, we can do it!

Monday, December 12, 2005

This Week in Pearlington - Dec. 12, 2005

This is what’s happening in Pearlington this week, as far as I know:

- Conrad is in town with his team still building sheds
- Rusty Irving has returned to Florida and Eileen Powers to Ontario
- my contacts on the ground report that the Pearl*Mart is open daily and the school board will inform everyone when the bulldozing of the damaged parts of the school is to occur
- there is still shelter in the old library and the rooms adjacent and the food tent is still up and running, as are the portable toilets and showers

Greg Wolfe, Disaster Recovery Director for Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi writes:

“I plan to be in Pearlington for most of the upcoming week. I have teams coming every week until about Jan. 9. We have a lot of mud-outs to do, but we may have extra workers who would be available to help with sheds. We are also working on some other logistics for the teams who come, such as getting our own shower trailer, being prepared to provide food for such time as the Red Cross pulls out, etc. We have adopted Pearlington and plan to be active in helping there at least through 2006. We hope to be building at least 5 or 6 new homes for people who otherwise would not be able to rebuild. We have teams coming to Pearlington from now through at least January 9, with the days just around Christmas being open. From what I have heard, at least one shower trailer should be available at least until the end of December. I am working on getting an additional shower trailer for volunteers to use. This would be available for all volunteers helping in Pearlington, not just those we bring in. My understanding is that MEMA is leasing the football field, so the portable toilets there should be staying. If not, we will be working on getting our own.”

Bob Britts, who worked with the Water Missions people, reports the following:

“I talked to George Greene IV (co-founder) of Water Missions International on Thursday Dec. 8. He is not sure if WMI will be gong back. I recommended that if they go back then they be stationed in a permanent building (not a tent) in Waveland or Bay St. Louis. The Pearlington Relief Center may turn out to be only the locally run relief center next month. At this point it appears WMI and Volunteer Utility crews from SC have installed new well pumps and tanks in Pearlington, Waveland and even D’’Iberville MS at the new FEMA trailers. My best count is that the Pearlington area has received 250 of the 300+ pumps installed. Rick Hiers and I saw a neighborhood in D’’Iberville on December 3 (just outside of Biloxi) that could use about 40- 60 pumps in the next few months. So if WMI can get some more donated pumps or funding and utility crews can be recruited to install them then these pumps can go elsewhere in Hancock or Harrison Counties. This could happen in mid-January. Please poll your contacts about this opportunity. This basically means that Pearlington would not be receiving all in the next round of well pumps.”

Tim Goodnow, of the Dog Soldiers helping to build sheds in Pearlington, writes:

“We are coming. Also, we are fundraising. To all those a little put off by ““the what’’s happening”” and questioning continuing, consider this: if 20 feet of water won’’t stop these Americans, then nothing will, and the latest news is just another small wave. We intend to complete the mission. It is what the Dog Soldiers do: find a way to make it work. Our men begin to arrive on the 15th, and I will forward details.”

"Canada Jon"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

News from Pearlington - Dec. 8/05

Here is the latest info from the ground in Pearlington:

• Rusty Irving leaves today - flies out from New Orleans at 1:00 p.m. Thanks Rusty for your enormous contribution and vigilance
• Americorps also pulls out today - what a wonderful organization and what great groups of young people
• Mike from MEMA has arranged for Kentucky state troopers to provide a volunteer presence in Pearlington
• Larry and Beth Randall seem to be heading the citizen’s group operating the Pearl*Mart starting yesterday. Hours have remained the same as I arranged when I left: 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. daily

If there’s anything else that needs to be added, please click on the “Post an article” link to the left of this panel.

Canada Jon

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Update from Pearlington - Dec. 5

Eileen Powers in Pearlington:

Here are some bits and pieces for you to ponder:

Sign at the Pearl*mart today (on cardboard):
"We have permission to be here until June 2006, re Morgan Ladner, School board president. Temporary closing date for Pearlmart and clinic Dec 24-Jan 2 for removal of damaged buildings."

Hancock County Recovery Update, issued today:

"Temporary Clinic closing date -
Several of the temporary walk-in clinics around Hancock County are setting dates to close their operations as the Hancock Medical Centre becomes fully operational. - Pearlington Clinic January 1, 2006"

8 Days of Hope Mission "Helping put people back in homes" The will be visiting the area Dec 10 thru Dec 18 and would like to help some families rebuild. Phone (662 871-2315)

Update from Hazekiah in Pearl*Mart:
Mrs. Beth Randall is putting herself in charge of the Pearl*Mart, getting rid of people who helped there before. The Randalls will accept donations for the town.

Pearl*Mart clothing has been boxed and moved to other needy centres along the coast. Tinned food has been moved from the classrooms to the Pearl*Mart shelves.

Toward the end of the day a group of men and women, obviously not volunteers, was standing near the water tank assembly area. One male separated himself from the group. Turns out he is the architect for the school board, but didn't want to be seen with FEMA and MEMA members of the

The conversation with him revealed this:
Another school is being demolished, not cleaned-up. Nothing had been done to it since the hurricane and it was a mess. There was less damage to this (Pearlington) school because the volunteers did so much cleaning. But ut's not a safe buiding, people shouldn't be going in. RE my question will the board rebuild the school, he replied that the board " intends to" rebuild, and that the demolition of the stated rooms is "slated" to happen. The rebuilt school might be on another part, and the demolished areas made into playing fields. It's 8' above sea level.

Apparently, FEMA will pay for the school demolition if it's done by Jan 5, which is the end of the disaster period. The state doesn't want to pay for it.

Sun Herald - Southwest Mississippi's newspaper Dec 5/05
"Hancock looks at shortening volunteer lifeline. It's part of county's Katrina recovery plan" by Ryan LaFontaine

Monday, December 05, 2005

What's Happening....

  • I'm coming to Pearlington on the 21st, and look forward to volunteering in any way that's needed, but hope to get out into the community more doing home visits (doing or helping with anything that is needed).
  • Spoke with Jake (one of the shed guys) and he's planning on coming the last week of Dec. or beginning of Jan.
  • He said Conrad (other shed guy) is coming from the 10th to the 19-20th.
  • Is anyone from the group planning to be in Mississippi (or specifically Pearlington) any time from Dec. 21st up until January 16th?
  • I am working on getting more awareness to the area and hoping to convince at least one (probably public) television station that my idea of an ongoing documentary showing the original condition of the area vs. after the destruction; personal stories of it's residents and volunteers and how their lives have been affected (ups,downs, good, bad); and the progression of how lives and the gulf coast were helped to a worthwhile idea and good story and one that viewers would be interested in. But most of all that they should do it because it could make an incredible difference to that community if programs like this would be filmed/aired for the greater public to see.
Posted by Julie Doten

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Job is Done!

To all the friends and supporters, volunteers and groups who have invested so much in Pearlington:


That is, we have decided to cycle down the food and materials distribution side of things, affectionately known as the Pearl*Mart. The folks of Pearlington have had their initial relief needs met and met well. Thanks to all our consistent efforts and the crew of the FEMA Disaster Recovery Centre that located to Pearlington in Novemeber, just about everybody is off the ground and into their trailers. There are still some bugs to work out, of course, and we're on it. A decision will now be made about the future of the balance of the food and clothing still in the Pearl*Mart and that is probably best done by the residents.

All of us who spent time in Pearlington know that this effort could not have nearly been accomplished without the commitment of so many dedicated volunteers and so many faith-based organizations, community groups and private individuals; many who put their lives and careers on hold to come and help our bothers and sisters in need. We all did an outstanding job and now its time to have faith that the good people of Pearlington can take it from here.

There is still a lot we can do. This blog will now be used to share our experiences, to make connections with each other, to match resource with need and to continue to support and inspire the people of Pearlington as they rebuild their lives. For many of us, it is our Dream that we form a coalition of all the participating groups and individuals so that we might continue to have a voice and to offer assistance in the full recovery of Hancock County.

If you have a project ongoing in Pearlington or elsewhere in Hancock County; if you would like a link from this site to your own so that we all might share in your plans, please let us know and we will add it. Check the links to the right of the page to do so.

If you speak on behalf of your organization or group, or even as an individual who contributed to the recovery of Pearlington, and you find merit in the idea of a coalition to further our joint efforts in Pearlington and Hancock County - or at some time and place in the future - please click on the link also to the right of this page.

I salute you all and join you in prayer for the wonderful people of Pearlington. God bless you all and have a very Merry Christmas!

"Canada Jon" White