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."
Emergency Management Coordinator
Department of Business & Professional Regulation
Division of Hotels & Restaurants