Live from Pearlington - Dec. 3, 2006
It's my last day in Pearlington and I am reflective of all that I've seen and all that is happening in town.
Progress is being made, that's for sure. The sound of swinging hammers and buzzing saws fills pockets of almost every street and there's a greater air of collective 'normalcy' than I've noticed before. People pull up to the restored ATM that, for a long time, sat abandoned and defiled by the storm. Over at the E-Z Mart kids pull in to fuel up their fast cars, vehicles able to pass everything on Hwy. 90 but a gas station. Out front, people stop to chat and gossip and inside, the product is a lot fresher and more abundant than it was in the summer.
There are flowers blooming and great, tall grasses and the trees seem to have lost their ghostly, grey look. While there is still debris in lots of places, it appears less overwhelming. In the Bay and Slidell it is business as usual.
It would be easy for an optimist like me to rest on our collective laurels.
I know that many of you count on me to speak my truth, my observations of what is really happening in Pearlington:
There are subtle signs of fatigue lining the faces of many of the long-term Volunteers. It is the burden of duty, made more pronounced by the worry that resources are starting to flow and there may not be enough volunteers coming to town to utilize them. Funders want the money spent and proof that it was done quickly and properly. It's the reverse of last year, when we had lots of volunteers and no resources. So, we must find clever ways to draw the world's attention back to the reality that Katrina is still wreaking havoc on the Coast.
While some are getting back into their homes, many continue to stare at the walls of their FEMA 'can-dominiums' - whose dimensions shrink daily, as does the occupants’ hope. The truly disenfranchised will be those who rented or lived on family land to which they have no clear title. They will not get the grants and there is nothing to be rented in Pearlington. When FEMA comes for their trailers, I greatly fear for their welfare.
There are many stories of jubilation in this bayou town, yet still too many tales of loss and fear. We have an opportunity to get this done at last and I will do whatever it takes to get the labor here to finish this monumental task.
To that end, I am issuing a challenge:
By Wednesday, August 29, 2007 - as we volunteers gather in Pearlington for the 2nd Annual Volunteer Reunion - let it be that we leave Pearlington a completely restored town.
Call in all your favors, all your resources. I am asking for ANY ideas - no matter how far-fetched - to attract volunteers and skilled tradespeople to Pearlington. Send them to me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
In the coming days I will be mounting on this Blog a sample press-release in .pdf format. You will be able to download it and send it to every newspaper, TV and radio station in your area. Some of the volunteer groups are looking at a combined national press campaign. You can do it locally.
Send your ideas and together, let's create our way to Victory in Pearlington.
It's a sunny Sunday in Pearlington. People are gathering to worship God and to pray for solutions. We have 270 days until the 2nd anniversary of the Storm.
Let the countdown begin....