GCN Exclusive Report
GCN published a list of things needed by the City of Bay St. Louis early in March. The response has been amazing. The following is an update sent by the Bay St. Louis city administrator Ms. Mike Cuevas to GCN correspondent Mark Proulx - Editor
What Bay St. Louis Needs – Update 5
From Mark Proulx - Special to GCN
Three weeks from now will mark the one
year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
All of our sister cities and new friends have been so supportive of the Gulf Coast Katrina recovery and if we don't thank you often enough I'm sorry and want to be sure that you know how much you are appreciated, by all of us, even those who don't take the time to thank you because they are still overwhelmed by the tasks at hand. I don't know where we would be without your help. Because of your support every day we move forward, maybe in a small way, but always forward.
We were thirty six years in recovery from Hurricane Camille when Katrina hit. There is a determination that this recovery won't take as long, although in comparison, Camille was a thunderstorm.
Yes, our city administration still needs help. To date we have had to borrow over $15 million to keep the doors open and minimal services delivered to the public with a virtual skeleton crew of employees. There have been very few new hires and those were hired under special employment programs funded by the state, not because we could afford new salaries and benefits.
The following are a list of the major supplies that the public can assist in helping the city defray its general operating budget: fuel, tires, office supplies, (especially copy paper since we have no professional printers left in business), cleaning supplies for our public buildings. The cost of fuel to keep our police department on patrol can be overwhelming for our minus budget. I don't mean to sound flippant or too blunt, but any donor wishing to pay our city light bill of $25,000 for one month would be guaranteed a special place in heaven! Our federally mandated wastewater treatment bill is $75,000 a month. With bills like that you can understand why we are grateful for any help with our other needs.
Citizens will need varying degrees of help for a long time to come, if we don't have another major storm. If, God forbid, we do there won't be anyone left to help. But without a new storm and the "creek don't rise," gift cards for building supplies or furniture for those close to returning to their homes is the best help that can be sent.
Please remember that gift cards are easy to store in a town with few buildings that can be dedicated to storage. Many people will still be living in trailers for the next 6-12 months.
We don't need anymore toys or bikes for our children, but we do continue to need supplies and support for our public and private schools that are rebuilding and re-fitting our campuses. Supplies for the Boys and Girls Club, supplies for The Arts-Hancock County for children's art camps/weekends are always welcome. These organizations benefit all of our children and we don't have to worry about storage in a FEMA trailer.
To combine help for both our children and our police department monies or supplies could be sent for bicycle helmets and safety training and an engraving gun to mark all the new bikes. To combine help for our children and the fire department monies could be sent to the fire department for the teaching tools needed for fire safety classes. These are things we used to be able to do on our own, but is very low on our budget priority list.
Volunteers are still needed to work with the relief groups still in the Bay helping with reconstruction. Anyone unskilled volunteer is asked to take classes at a local Home Depot or Lowe's type business and learn to set ceramic tile or laminate flooring. If there is a community college or even a local contractor that teach them how to cut base and ceiling moldings those are valuable skills and there is always more than enough work for volunteers with these skills. If volunteers can learn to install bathroom fixtures - toilets, lavatories, tubs, faucets, before they come then they can really help.
There is one thing that would really help our school age children - uniform clothing. Our schools require navy blue or khaki shorts or long pants with white, navy blue or white polo type shirts. Other donors have been generous with backpacks and kids supplies, but buying uniforms means a trip out of town for shopping and there is a shortage of small sizes (6-7 to 10-12) for the elementary grades. ( I only know this because of first hand shopping for my grandson, Charlie, who starts first grade this year.)
Anyone with a 16-18' metal or fiberglass boat, (at least 5' wide) with a 25 hp jet drive motor and trailer to donate could really be used by our fire department for the 30+ miles of inland waterways we have. I'll be glad to email correspond with anyone who may be an interested donor.
I'm sure that I've forgotten something - I never can remember it all no matter how hard I try - but it was time for an update and here it is.
Once again, thank you so very much, God bless all of you.
City of Bay Saint Louis
Donation and Volunteer Coordinator
Bay St. Louis Needs Update 2 - Mark Proulx - GCN Special Report
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Bay St. Louis Needs Update 4 - Mark Proulx - GCN Special Report
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