Hancock County Update 33
How Big Is This
By Mark Proulx - Special to GCN
The frustration of having to deal with all aspects of this Hurricane Katrina catastrophe is really beginning to take on a much more serious tone lately. I have been beset by email after email, phone call after phone call from people in Hancock County who are literally at their breaking point. Case in point, here is an email I received today from a lady named Susan:
“Have you been to the Bay St Louis/Waveland area lately? Do you know that there is very little hurricane debris removal happening there? It is absolutely ridiculous that the contractors that remove the debris in a timely manner and help these people get their lives and homes back or rebuilt. Someone needs to investigate what is going on. But no one will. What is the deal? I have sent emails to numerous people and never got a response.”
Here is the latest Hancock County disaster statistics to date:
Debris Removal from public right-of-ways
County – The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers say that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has targeted December 31st as a final pass completion date for clean-up of the public right-of-ways in Mississippi. Residents can help expedite the cleanup of Hancock County by moving as much debris to the curbside by Dec. 15th. The Corp recognizes that areas such as Hancock County may require additional clean up time. The Corp will continue to clean up debris in the county until the mission is complete.
And how about this for unbelievable statistics in just Hancock County:
Total number of tent sites (some w/more than 1 tent)……………..541
Tent sites used by contractors, for storage, etc…………………….445
Usage could not be determined (no contact made)………………… 67
Tent sites occupied by applicants waiting for temporary housing…..29
More than 67,500 Mississippi residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina are now living in 25,000 emergency housing units installed and readied for occupancy by Bechtel National, Inc.
According to Andy Phelps, BNI’s program manager. “Although we are told by federal officials that we are housing people at a rate never before achieved, we continue to keep our focus and work seven days a week to house the remaining victims of Hurricane Katrina.”
The Government Effort is Good, But Is It Enough?
With the inability of the insurance companies to pay out on claims, with the Flood Insurance money drying up, with FEMA having to request additional funds be appropriated from the government in order to continue the relief effort, it has really come down to individuals with either the financial means or motivation to directly affect the relief effort in order to fill the enormous void between full recovery and where we are now.
Here are few examples of how everyday people are stepping out of their comfort zones, moved to action by the seemingly helpless residents of the Gulf Coast:
Dr. Bert Welch, from MedOne, has been working tirelessly on getting all the support he can to doctors and medical professionals all along the Gulf Coast. He met with a committee of MS State Medical Association who would bring his proposal of building an organization to support the medical community to Jackson for Gov. Barbour’s approval, so it can be brought before the state legislature. Should this proposal go through and federal funds be appropriated for this venture, Mississippi has it finest ally in helping rebuild the medical infrastructure it needs desperately.
My gal Peg, of Peg’s Trucking out of Janesville has already filled two tractor trailer semi full of donated goods and delivered them to Hancock County so far…and she’s not done yet. According to Peg, there’s the VFW Post #6285 group that puts on a Christmas party every year up in the Kiln for the kids and she has found the means to get donated toys, hamburgers and hot dogs to help make Christmas a little more special this year. Kathy McGregor is the ladies auxiliary president who contacted Peg. They needed help in making this a successful event, so she called Peg and asked if she had contacts that could fill in the shortcomings of their program. Not only did Peg say “yes” to helping, she was able to come up with enough toys, hot dogs and hamburgers to make this a memorable event for all of Hancock County. December 18th is when the parade and party are to be held at the VFW post in the Kiln. The Christmas parade starts at 12:00pm and the party starts at 1:00pm after the parade. Phone for VFW is 228-255-1259. Tell’em Peg sent ya.
A lady from the MS State Donations Matching Association ran across one of my little articles mentioning the lack of donations for Hancock County, and especially Bay St. Louis, the county seat. According to the lady who contacted me, there was a woman from Bay St. Louis who had relocated to Chicago who had a large donation to give and wanted to know how she could donate directly to BSL since I did not supply a contact number and name below my signature. In contacting me, the donations lady asked if there was anyone who she could contact regarding this to make sure all of the money went directly to the city. In one of those rare occasions where I thought Mayor Favre might want to be contacted, I happily supplied his phone number. Even I don’t know who the donor is, but let me say….THANK YOU!
The Rainbow Group. Wow. What can I say. This group of people has made a huge difference in people’s lives. I have personally visited the New Waveland Café, have seen the organization, have seen the amount of people who come through the chow line every day while I was there, saw the tents, the tents, saw the squalid conditions these people wer living in to care for others, saw the medical clinic, and the support from many , many people who wished they would stay. The Rainbow Group was the right support at the right time in my mind.
Even with ideological, spiritual and cultural differences, my new friends made a huge difference in people’s lives. The love and support from these people was an enormous boost to the spirit of the community and a necessary staple in people’s lives. Waveland owes a great deal of gratitude to these unselfish and giving people. Asheville, NC (as well as the rest of the country) can count themselves lucky to have such giving and caring individuals living among us.
Virginia State Patrol – many troopers unselfishly gave of their time to help the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland in their greatest hour. It was my pleasure to have met a few of these weary officers of the law who took time out of their lives to fill in the void and take on the problems of a ravaged state and we all greatly appreciate our men and women in blue.
Let’s not forget that many, MANY individuals have sacrificed much to give or help out all they can to support the MS Gulf Coast. This is an historic event that MUST be memorialized for future generations and we need to recognize that, from top to bottom, many hands have been involved in the relief effort currently going on along the entire Gulf Coast.
..but let’s be realistic.
With all of the billions provided by the federal government, the millions provided by relief agencies, the hundreds of thousands in donations and the individual efforts of thousands of everyday heroes….we have only scratched the surface. This ain’t gonna be solved anytime soon.
CITY OF BAY ST LOUIS
HANCOCK COUNTY DISASTER RELIEF FUND
HMC FOUNDATION HURRICANE RELIEF FUND
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