Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Once-Forgotten Town of Pearlington, MS

It is impossible to comprehend, in the comfort of our own homes, what it must be like to lose everything in a single day.

On Monday, August 29th, just after 10:00 a.m. local time, Hurricane Katrina made landfall, with the eastern eye wall directly over Pearlington, MS - sparing New Orleans the direct hit. Every home, building and vehicle in this town of 1600 was destroyed. If that wasn’t enough, a storm surge travelled 4.5 miles inland and drowned what little was left under 12-20 feet of the most toxic stew imaginable.

Since that day, a hardy coalition of volunteers - representing almost every faith, state, Canadian province, two European nations and an eastern Asian country - have travelled regularly to Pearlington to rebuild this forgotten bayou town. It has been a year of triumph and failure, celebration and frustration, as nearly every governmental group responsible for such things has disappointed the people of Pearlington and, in some cases, made our job harder.

I depart in the morning for Pearlington, there to host the First Annual Pearlington Volunteer Reunion. It will be a gathering of like-minded volunteers, whose only mission is to work together to help Pearlington back to it’s feet.

We need materials and skilled labor desperately; there is still so much to be done.

We will not give up until the task is complete. That is our commitment to Pearlington and we will not fail them. When I created this blog on November 1, 2005, during my second trip to Pearlington, little did I know what a gift it would be to me and what a remarkable tool for communication, information and inspiration it would turn out to be.

I am honored to be a part of this recovery and honored to focus the combined might of C.O.D.R.A. - the Coalition of Disaster Relief Agencies in Pearlington - on this monumental task.
God bless you all. I will report next from Pearlington.

"Canada Jon" White


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