On-the-Ground in Pearlington - Feb. 12, 2006
As of last week, much in Pearlington has changed and much has stayed the same. Many homes are being mucked out, some are being rebuilt, some people have not even returned to town and some homes look exactly the way they did the day after the storm. Let’s look first at the situation concerning volunteer amenities on the ground:
- the Pearl*Mart remains open, under the management of local resident Larry Randall and his colleagues. Laurie Spaschak and Tony Ewers are also there as volunteers, lending their invaluable assistance.
- the Red Cross food service tent is slated to depart this Wednesday, Feb. 15th - this is going to put a serious crimp in things and we are actively pursuing alternatives - there have been various rumours of a solution, however I have learned to count on nothing until I am unloading the actual truck! - CBF and Charlie Holmes are working on the most promising solution;
- there is one shower unit left at Chas. Murphy school and it is slated to depart Feb. 28th
- there are portable toilets available at the school and around town
- volunteer housing is still available at the school
- postal service has been restored to Pearlington and boxes are available on a leased spot across from the old location of the Post Office - thanks to Ed Wentz and others who lent energy and helped facilitate this and a successful meeting with the Post Master in Bay St. Louis
- various groups are in town helping the townsfolk muck out their homes, strip things down to the studs and begin rebuilding; these groups include:
• the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, located in the large CBF tent in the field behind the school and in adjacent trailers; Greg Wolfe is the Director and Charlie Holmes his assistant and perhaps replacement, when Greg’s tour is complete in March;
• the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has set up a self-contained camp - PDA Camp 6 - in the area beside the fire station; Canadian Peter Rangelov is in charge and will be on site until May 7th;
• volunteers from Disaster Corp and Burning Man have set up another self-sufficient camp on the pad formerly housing the Post Office; Richard Scott and Carmen Mauk are in charge and have some pieces of heavy equipment that Peter works with around the clock; the team has been in Biloxi for several months and have relocated now to Pearlington and elsewhere to weave their magic until the end of March;
• Pickin Up The Pieces from Savannah, Ga., founded by Michael and Linda Edwards, have done a remarkable job rebuilding the home of elderly couple Pat Wilson and her husband Harry, out on Hwy. 90; the couple was able to sleep their first night in their new home last Friday; Pat is a crucial link in the rebuilding of the cemetary, proposed by the town of Carbondale, Co.
• Tom Dalessandri of Carbondale was on site, preparing for a team that will come now to continue clearing lots and rebuilding homes, one home at a time; their total contribution has been outstanding and Tom is a wise and hard-working friend of mine and of Pearlington; the Carbondale team will be back in town in early March and will be ready to rock! Sheet rock, that is;
• Gene Stutzman of the Mennonites is also in town, working with a crew mostly doing volunteer roofing;
• Bob Britts of RCAP was in town doing a video of the Water Missions pump installations there and in other locales;
• Frank Cloud, Jimi Smith and Sam Bailey are local volunteers who have put their own rebuilding needs aside to work on behalf of others in their community - three more dedicated and willing volunteers one could never find;
• there are many other smaller groups in town, working on gutting and rebuilding and they all should be applauded for their tireless and selfless efforts.
The Coalition of Disaster Relief Agencies (C.O.D.R.A.) held its first meeting in Pearlington on Saturday, February 4th in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship tent in the field behind the school. CODRA has brought together the major players in Pearlington so that we all might cooperate and support each other as we work to rebuild the town. This prevents duplication of valuable resources and labour, shares information and even lends labour and equipment resources back and forth as each group is able. Many groups have arrived and either had too much to do and needed help another group could provide, or vice versa. Each group, of course, maintains their autonomy and it is my job to keep everyone informed of the evolving situation and to use the blog and a phone tree to disseminate the information so that groups can use it to form their plans for Pearlington. The meeting was inspiring and a great success and the next meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 13th in the CBF tent at 7:00 p.m.
I would like to welcome to C.O.D.R.A. the following new members, hard at work in Pearlington:
• the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance - Pearlington Camp 6
• Jim and Susie Merritt of Tidal Creek Fellowship, Beaufort, SC
• Pickin Up The Pieces of Savannah, GA
• Burning Man/Disaster Corp in Pearlington
• Jennifer Johnson and Family
Later: current needs, who’s coming to town, Holly’s Library, the food crisis, etc.
“Canada Jon” White