Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Responses....

Laurie Spaschak reports from Pearlington:

"The huge donation from CertainTeed Insulation arrived tonight. We just got done unloading and sent much of it out to job sites already. It will help over 15 families here get into their homes. The driver, Chuck Waago, helped us for hours in unloading, as so did Glen & Tim, Herb, The Earle family, the Dell Family, Michael Wheat, Larry Randall and others. All helped use their vehicles to deliver to the homes of others as well....even my daughter Maureen pitched in."

Good work, everyone!

This morning I received an email from Michael Whitehead, who was responsible for the very first organized official response from outside Pearlington after Katrina. I plan to read Michael’s email at the Reunion and responded to him and ask his permission to do so.

I won’t share that letter here, now, but I will share his response to my offer to read it at the Reunion. It is important for many reasons and helps us all understand how it is that Pearlington may have been "overlooked" in the early days:

"I was sorely touched by what I saw in Pearlington on Sep 7th and angry at my self that I had taken 5 days to discover that the situation there was so bad. In my defense, I was responsible for 6 counties and I could not afford to focus on cities, much less individuals. All of our resources were being ordered through the State of Florida Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Tallahassee, which was fully activated and supporting our operation in Mississippi. I believe that initially most of the resources that flowed in went to Harrison and Jackson Counties because that is where most of the people were. I realized, belatedly, the Hancock was the hardest hit but was receiving the least help. I tried to make up for that.

A lot of people in Tallahassee at the EOC did some heroic things for Mississippi which are still not widely known. With all the attention that came to Louisiana and New Orleans, not many people realize the incredible feat that Florida accomplished. I am seriously considering writing a book about what Florida did in Mississippi after Katrina so more people will understand the size of the accomplishment.

My narrative focused on my own personal actions in Pearlington, and I would be honored if you would read it, but please emphasize that I was one of 6,000 Floridians who were there. I have attached a copy of an article that I wrote which was published in the Orlando Sentinel last September."

Michael Whitehead
Emergency Management Coordinator
Department of Business & Professional Regulation
Division of Hotels & Restaurants

2 Comments:

At Tuesday, 22 August, 2006, Anonymous Michael Whitehead said...

Thank you for your kind words and allow me to make a clarification. When I arrived at Pearlington on Sep 7 the Mississippi National Guard was already there and had done a tremendous job of cleaning out the Charles Murphy school. The basketball backboards in the gym had storm surge marks, and the Guard had excavated, cleaned and bleached the gym when I got there. A County distribution site for food and water was establsihed at the school, I believe, on Sep 5.

 
At Tuesday, 22 August, 2006, Anonymous amy said...

I am an individual that reponded to Katrina right after the storm. At the onset of the disaster I was very angry with the way Pearlington was lefted behind. However, after many tears and fights with the Lord I have come to relize that God wanted me and all the other individuals in Pearlington. Pealington does not need politics or big money they need love and support. These people are the hardest working, and most thankful people I have ever met. My experience in Pearlington has taught me that I can not save the world but I can make a huge difference in the lives of a few. My contributions to Pearlington are not large in time or money but I have made a difference in a few lives and they in mine. God wants us all to help and it is our duty as Christians to do so. Loving, hard working people can do just as much as large organizations the difference is our help can not be measured in this life. Just look at how many states and countries have been in Pearlington. If a large organizations would have been running the show half of these people would not have had the right quailifications. What is going on in Pearlington is an act of God, just like the storm.

 

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