Monday, July 24, 2006

More Security Needed


Had a conversation with a volunteer friend who is not IN P-ton at all times. She was very disturbed by the drug activity among the youth. She was very uneasy driving through a certain part of town due to the open use of drugs as she went through, along with the obvious nature that she was NOT a local.

She was so sad about it that it consumed much of the conversation.

This is a byproduct of disasters. Youth are many more times likely to become abusers of drugs and each other when the emotional aspect of a disaster is not dealt with properly.

There are long-term volunteers that are in P-ton on a daily basis that have experience with this aspect of disaster recovery. Unfortunately, I've not heard of any solid efforts to establish programs to help deal with the emotional aftermath. Hopefully this will change in the near future.

Just sent to me this AM (7/24)

Just to give you a quick update.

The insulation my dad purchased for his rebuilding efforts was stolen from inside of the house he is trying to rebuild. I am so pissed, that someone could do such a thing to a 89 year old man.

Do you think the National Guard will police Pearlington? The local officials are of no help, hell they are probably involved.

I guess you could say I am very bitter right now.


This isn't the first time this man has had something bad happen to him. He's had grifters try to take him for no work done, he's had promises by local volunteers that have never come through, and I believe he's had a generator stolen as well.

I truly believe the area needs more patrols AND a better sense of communal security. People really need to do more checking on each other.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A New Home In Pearlington

From the Clarion Ledger

PEARLINGTON — As framed houses slowly go up along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a new yellow house belonging to Rupert Ray "Tater" Smith and his wife, Ann, stands out among the trailers, debris and vacant lots where their neighbors once lived.

"It just floated like a barge," said Tater Smith, 71. "We started (rebuilding) from the ground up."
The Smiths are unlike a lot of this town's estimated 2,000 residents - and many others - along the Gulf Coast looking to rebuild their lives. Thousands of residents are weary and restless, left waiting for insurance settlements and federal block grants 10 months after the storm.

Scott Hamilton, spokesman for the Mississippi Development Authority, said federal grant money won't come until the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rules on an objection to the implementation of the program filed by a national mortgage bankers association. The MDA had hoped to make grants available this week.

Some people haven't waited on the grants to rebuild, though. They have used insurance settlements, savings and credit cards to move ahead. Others got loans from the Small Business Administration, banks or their families. Many, like the Smiths, have gotten help from thousands of volunteers.

"If it had not been for these volunteers, I don't know what we would do," said Tater Smith, whose Hancock County town was hit with a 28-foot storm surge. "We didn't have the money to go buy property. We live on fixed incomes. All we get is Social Security."
The Smiths recently had a grant application appointment in Bay St. Louis. Tater Smith said he didn't think he and his wife would get anything.

The Smiths got $8,000 from their insurance company and $10,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replace their home, which was valued around $60,000. He has about $4,000 left, which won't cover all the flooring and interior work left to be completed before he and his wife can move in.

"It's been a long, hard road for us," Tater Smith said.

The Smiths were not in the flood zone and are eligible to apply for one of the $150,000 grants.
Mississippi's grant program, administered through the MDA, was approved by HUD in April. About 16,000 residents began applying that same month for an estimated $3 billion.
Meanwhile, Hamilton said some grant applicants could get as much as 35 percent more money to make up for the rising cost of construction. Eligible residents who didn't apply still can do so, he said.

But volunteers across the Coast, who stepped up to help residents immediately after the storm, continue to lead the way in hurricane recovery. They have taken the lead in home reconstruction as grant approvals and distributions have been delayed.

Edith Cook, 66, is among those who have benefited from strangers' generosity. She said she never dreamed she would live in a house on her Pass Christian property again after the storm. The storm took away the house of the retired caregiver.

"There was nothing but the blocks," she said. "The house was up the street. I was definitely not going to rebuild. I thought I would rent for the rest of my life."

Volunteers from a Falls Church, Va., church are rebuilding the homes of Cook and two others, volunteer Eldon Stoffel said. He recently was among a group working at Cook's new house, which stands on blocks at least 10 feet high.

Stoffel, a professional painter, said his church has raised more than $220,000 to rebuild the three houses.

Cook said one of her daughters applied to have the group rebuild the house for free.
"It's unbelievable," she said. "Rebuilding was not in my plan. I didn't see where I could afford it. It's a gift. The Falls Church group are all angels. Every one of them."

Gary Reynolds, 50, of Biloxi is using flood insurance money and his skills as a general construction contractor to rebuild his home that faces the Back Bay of Biloxi. The storm pushed close to 4 feet of water into his house.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fresh Eyes II

From Gary upon his return to DC:

The fire departments need someone savvy at hooking up lights and generators. This is an urgent need. They are running night calls up on I 10 without scene lighting. They rely on mutual aid to assist with lights but nothing is sure. It would be a lot better if they could get lights operating on their own trucks. Tommy Dean does some maintenance work on the vehicles, but he is trying to get his new house finished as well.

As he said the trucks are getting broke faster than he can fix.

Another urgent need is ANSI Class III traffic vest and cones. Accidents occur almost daily up on I 10 and there are no safety vests. I think we ran three medical calls a fire and 9 or 10 accident calls while I was there. Its bad enough that you could almost justify staging vehicles at the Mississippi Welcome Center.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Replace Vital Records

This site has for citizens, businesses, not-for-profits and Federal employees

It have links and directions to replace your:

Bank Records
Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates
Damaged Money
Driver's License and Vehicle Registry
Civilian Personnel Records
Immigration Documents
Has a medical information form
Medicare Card Replacement
Military Service Records
Savings Bonds
SS Card
Tax Returns

There is a phone directory if you'd rather do this by phone and a FAQ sheet.

Please Check it out

Fresh Eyes

Just about all posts at the moment will be updates from a gentleman named Gary who has travelled down again to do what he is able. He was with FEMA the first 3 months he was there. And now he is just Joe Citizen trying to make a difference.

His contacts are GREAT, so his difference WILL show! His work is mostly with Fire Service, so try to look at it through those eyes.

Have arrived at Hancock County and find that day time help is very limited. There are difficulties in getting FEMA money they are entitled to and forms from MEMA just confues the fire department.

I looked over all the engines and tanker that I used to drive to refresh my memory. I had to touch the buttons to get the feel of what was where. It has been six months since I drove. I don't know why but air pressure doesn't seem to hold as long as it should. You have to build it back up every few days.

All donations have been made at this time. Laurie over to the school remembered me from October and greatly appreciated the food, soap etc I dropped off. I have not seen the little girl that has the library, but she is living next to Laurie.

It sounds like Pealington is the community that no one cares about. Little head way has been made. A few new homes are built or being built. Water and sewer service are a primary concern. Lots are not big enough to meet building code for septic system. In the past sewage was run in ditches or over ground but that is no longer allowed.

You would not think a community had open sewage in 2006!!!! Supposedly a sewer is going to be built. I don't believe much without seeing it first hand.

The Presidnet of the IAFC promises to help anywya he can. He stayed aout a half hour. We need to get a list of equipment needed as well as a list of equipment that has been received and donated to othre communities.

I hope to visit a couple of the other stations while I am down here. More later.


A few people have rebuilt. A few more are in the process. I would say less than 10% though. We drove around last night checking on fires. There is a burn ban in effect but rules and laws don' t mean a heck of a lot. I still see people living in tents. The FEMA trailer lot in Purvis is full again. It was almost empty in January. That raises some issues. Trailers are brought down one at a time. So God knows how much money was spent to transport trailers only to have them sit in a vacant field. An optimist would think they are returns from people who have rebuilt but I very much doubt that.

Today the "Castle Law" takes effect in Mississippi. If someone breaks into your home or car while you are in it you can assume they are intending to do serious harm and shoot them. Guns in cars were a common item before and now will be even more common. I wonder how many people will be shot around here.

The fire danger is extreme. There have been many forrest fires. Unfortunately, the only thing that happens when youi put them out is you get more dead forrest to burn. The fires get into the pine trees and start to crown (fire gets into the tops of the trees insted of just on the ground). I don't have to explain what a few thousand Christmas Tree fires going off at one time is going to look like. Somehow they manage to get the fires out. FEMA trailers and RV parks are up against the woods and in some cases actually in the woods.

Debris pick up has stopped. So now the locals put debris in the back of the pick up truck and take it down and toss it in the ditch. Some lots have been cleared and debris pushed into the ditch. Its just a matter of time before someone gets tired of looking at it and lights a match. There is no such thing as a little fire. Everyone has a lot of potential since things are so dry. Fireworks are included in the burn ban but can be purchased with in a short drive. I expect a busy weekend.

EZ Mart Open!

It may not sound like much but the small EZ mart opened today. Finally there is a place to buy small snacks, drinks and beer in Pearlington. Be it ever so small a sign of recovery non the less. I bought two pints of choclate milk. There were no shelves just coolers. A few snacks were avaiable. It looked like they would put up the shelves as they went along.

There are no fireworks this weekend anywhere in the county. The fire risk is too great. I think I could have found an area near the beach to light them safely provided the breeze blew back into the Gulf but I guess since there is no way to make sure it is just too dangerous to try.

The only other idea I can think of would have been a display from barges off shore. Slidell will have displays though. I can live without but it is a bit of a disapointment.

I have to go back over to see the little girl doing the library. I hope she gets the books put up and I can get a picture of her and all her books. What a precious heart touching story.

Not much else is new in Pearlington today. Catch you all later.

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