Remembering Sidney Strickland....and other news....
"I remember Mr. Strickland very well. He injured his back during Katrina when his stepson pulled him into the attic to escape the rising waters. Sidney Strickland was in a wheelchair at the Red Cross Shelter the entire time we were in Pearlington as he was waiting for a trailer. FEMA did not want to put him in a trailer on his property due to his injury but rather in a handicapped trailer in a trailer park. Mr. Strickland insisted on putting a trailer on his land so he could use his workshop as he had been a woodworker and hoped to be able to continue woodworking. His foster son Tim White took care of Mr. Strickland including doing his wash, assisting with his personal hygiene, chauffeuring, meals, etc."
- Bev Wentz, Water Missions International
"George and Margaret Ladner are the older couple who live on the corner of First Street and 604. Their son and daughter-in-law, Eddie and Lorraine Ladner, live directly behind them, close to Mr. Strickland’s trailer. He lived directly across from Eddie's big blue shed. He had stayed in his home for the hurricane and had narrowly escaped drowning. George woke Margaret up about 2:30 this morning and asked her if she had heard a thump. She hadn't but got up (they were sleeping in their new shed)...and looked outside...and saw the reflection of red flashing lights on Patrick and Evan's trailer. Her heart sank because she thought something had happened with one of the boys. Then, Lorraine came over and told her that Jack's trailer had burned and that he was in it. It's just too sad for words. I just don't understand all of this...I keep trying, but it is so hard."
- Claudia, the Ladner’s daughter from Shreveport
"I remember Sidney. Every morning in November, while I was managing the Recovery Center, I would stride up the parking lot from the Pearl*Mart for coffee at the Shelter. On my way I would bellow "Goooooood morning, Pearlington!" I did it to keep spirits up and it became a bit of a trademark - you know, the crazy Canadian. Sidney would smile and say nothing. Only now I find out he was a retired psychiatrist and that we had a lot more in common than I knew then.
Sleep well, Sidney. I don’t profess to know God’s plan but I have complete faith and trust that there is one."
- "Canada" Jon White
The Sun Herald story is available here.
On some other notes:
Three of the six bunkhouses being constructed on the field at the school in Pearlington are finished and two are even occupied. The remaining three will be completed by the weekend. A group of students from North Carolina are busy painting them. Contact Laurie Spaschak at 518-573-3033 to reserve. The school is also still available. There is a new shower in the field as well, with five stalls each for males and females, thanks to the United Methodists. A new food tent is set up and the kitchen should be in full operation by the weekend. Mary-Lena Anderegg, who has been doing lots of the cooking, reports: "We should have a restaurant class kitchen when finished." Volunteers have been feeding 150 people nightly outside the Pearl*Mart, as well as providing a basic breakfast. Some lunch packs are also available.
Ice-making equipment is desperately needed. If you can help, contact me and I will refer you on.
The First Missionary Baptist Church under Pastor Rawls should be applauded for the greatly appreciated hot lunches they have been providing volunteers daily. Jennifer Johnson from Huntsville, AL writes: "The first night we were there, Rev. Rawls from the First Missionary Baptist church (the old white church with the blue trim a block off of 604 on Hancock) invited our volunteers to have a free hot lunch (donations accepted). It was awesome. I cried each day as I thanked the precious women who prepared the meals and told them they had no idea how much it blessed us. Each time that I go to Pearlington, I see a little more integration within the community and it warms my heart. You know that you go down to bless these folks, and just the tiniest words that they speak, the hopeful look in their eyes, blesses us twice as much."
As spring arrives in southern Ontario, my home, I watch the daffodils and crocuses bloom. In death, there is rebirth. Amidst loss there is renewal. Despite tragedy, hope still burns.
And so it is in Pearlington.
"Canada" Jon White