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GCN published a list of things needed by the City of Bay St. Louis early in March. The response has been amazing. This is the second update on what has happened since. The following is a letter sent by the Bay St. Louis city administrator Ms. Mike Cuevas to GCN correspondent Mark Proulx - Ed.

Bay St. Louis Needs Update 3

The power of asking for help in many ways is not weakness, but our strength.

By Mark Proulx - Special to GCN    Filed 5/22/06

“Dear Mark,

Our management staff met on Monday and the following item came up: that the city needed to perform at the highest peak we can reach if another storm hits our area this season.  Many of these things are small, but essential to delivering safe service by our Police, Fire and Public Works Departments. 

If we have to evacuate our employee families we need gas cards in any amount that would help to mitigate travel expenses.  These cards would be issued with evacuation notices only.  If they were not used during the season they would be applied to the city's fuel operating costs.

We need an evacuation kit for each family that would include:  flashlight, with batteries, battery operated radio, small pieces of luggage that could carry two changes of clothes, a roll of quarters for using a laudromat, a container of laundry detergent, and a family personal care kit packed in a plastic shoe box with a lid that held 1 bottle of shampoo, 2 bars of deodorant soap with the plastic soap dishes, 1 large tube of toothpaste, 1 large size bottle of mouthwash, and in a separate plastic bag 1 bottle of tylenol or aspirin, small box of bandaids, small tube of antibiotic ointment and finally a four-pack of toilet paper and a box of tissues.

The mayor is making arrangements for our employee families to stay with public employees in other north Mississippi cities if the need arises.  We will have to find housing for approximately 30 families; other employees will be staying with family members or friends out of the area.  (I'm evacuating to Chattanooga, TN, to stay with a friend and my bag is already packed!)

To help our city departments directly we need the following in any amount, but I've put the maximum amount needed for each department.  These were the things we learned the hard way that we needed after a storm, or things we lost during the storm and have not had the finances to replace because other things were deemed more necessary:

Tire Plug Kits  (The kit includes tools and plugs and are available through any car parts store, or car repair department of any of the big box stores)

Fire Department - 20 heavy duty kits for medium size trucks

Public Works - 20 standard kits

Police Department - 30 standard kits

Administration - 5 standard kits

12 volt Air Compressors (This is the compressor that fits in your car's cigerette lighter)

Police Department - 30

Administration - 5

25,000# Tow Straps  (These are used to move vehicles, trees and other debris)

Fire Department - 6

Public Works Department - 12

Police Department - 30

Jumper Cables

Police Department - 30

Fire Department - 6

Public Works - 6

Administration - 5

To establish safe quarters for those employees who must stay in the city as our emergency and first responders we would like to provide the following to give them some reasonable place of rest.  I know that many of these items have already been sent to the citizens, but everything we have received has been distributed for immediate need and use and nothing kept back for city use:

12 adult-size sleeping bags

12 twin-size air mattresses with pumps

12 twin foldable cots (aluminum are easier to store)

24 pillows

12 sets of twin sheets

12 twin blankets

24 pillowcases

There will be more than 12 people to accommodate, there certainly were after Katrina, and they included not only city personnel, but other agencies that sent immediate relief workers.  With these items we can accommodate 36 people if the need arises.

We will need to issue personal care kits if needed that will include the following:

Plastic box with lid containing travel sizes of toothpaste, deodorant soap, shampoo, shaving cream, 1 ea. toothbrush, razor, comb/brush, small bottles of Avon's Skin-So-Soft, insect repellent, and sun screen.  One face cloth and one bath towel.

The reason I asked for things in the plastic boxes with lids is for storage.  If things aren't used this season, you can believe that they will be used at another future date.

It may be the residual effects of the full moon, but my mood is somber, not fatal, but my gut is telling me that we are in for a rocky season.  I hope tomorrow some of my normal optimism will return. 

I have tried to list things that are "do-able" and certainly affordable for donors, not everything, but a way to pick and choose how donors might like to help.  Any of the above items need to be shipped to my attention,

City of Bay Saint Louis

Attention:  Mike Cuevas

1928 Depot Way

Bay Saint Louis, MS 39520

If donors would like to send money it is imperative, to assure that the money is allocated as you choose, to indicate on your check "Emergency Preparation for Employees and Families" so the monies will not be used for general fund purposes.  Your check would be made out as you did previously and mailed to:

City of Bay Saint Louis

Attention:  David Kolf

P.O. Box 2550

Bay Saint Louis, MS 39521-2550.

Of course, our citizen needs remain the same, building materials, building materials, building materials.  With unemployment assistance ending mid-June we expect a run on our distribution center for food and other essentials.  I'll have a better grip on that as the day passes and we see what happens.  We are still helping approximately 300 to 400 families each week. 

Thank you to each of you that helped with our office supply list.  You saved our city an enormous amount of money that went to employee salaries and other necessary services like keeping the lights on in the Bay.

Keeping up with email is getting as hectic as keeping up with the cell phone messages were 6 months ago!  Some days I don't know if I have answered all the questions or not.

We have applied for assistance through the Bush-Clinton Fund.  Hopefully they will be generous.  I understand that most of their money is going to faith-based organizations, but we will see.

Buz Olsen and Les Fillingame are the city employees that keep up with all of that information.  I just get everyone's needs to go out and find.  With your help I've been pretty successful.  Buz and Les can be reached at 228-466-9000 or as follows:

Buz Olsen, stofbaystlouis@bellsouth.net

Les Fillingame, lesfillingame@yahoo.com

Hope they are responsive.  Let me know if you don't get your answers.

To date we have had to borrow over $5 million for operating expenses and now owe FEMA more than $3 million for their assistance.  The office supplies could not be applied, but many of our donations are applied to our FEMA match.  These auto supplies can be applied and every dollar helps more than you know.

God bless all of you.  We would have no future without you.  You save a family everyday by your generosity and your rewards will be great.

Take care,

Ms Mike”

More Information:

Hope is Alive in Bay St. Louis - GCN

Six Months After Katrina: What Bay St. Louis Needs - GCN

Bay St. Louis Needs Update 2  - Mark Proulx - GCN Special Report


About the author:
Mark Proulx family has deep roots in Bay St. Louis and Hancock County. He currently lives in Deerfield, Florida. He has a communications background in journalism and graduated from USM in 1982 but returned to school later and works now as a bio-engineer.. His father retired from the Air Force and was stationed once at Keesler.

Contact the author: mxpowerdive@hotmail.com