Saturday, December 31, 2005

Greetings from Biloxi the Sequel

Greetings from Biloxi Redux

I’m back in Biloxi with Handson again.

I will have more to report tomorrow (I only got in about 5PM today), but a fast first look finds that the city has come a long ways, but has an equally distant wayS to go.

While some casinos are opening up and businesses are getting back to something approaching normal operations, street lights, signs, and downed trees still litter the region and scores of thousands of peoples’ homes are either gone or uninhabitable.

A simple example of what the city is like now: upon arrival I did the exact same run I did in early October. Indeed I was shocked at how vivid the memory of the run was! Even in the dark, the course was seared into my mind. I remembered the house where the lady was hanging a blue tarp and who had been so gracious when offered a hand. The house is still there. So is the blue tote.

On the run I was struck by the large number of FEMA trailers even in the section of town that I thought had not been hit too severely. Also surprising, even though I know groups, inculiding Handson helped with some of teh decorations, was the large number of Christmas decorations hanging on many of the damaged homes and trailers. It is almost as if it was the owners' way of saying: you can destroy our homes, take our valuables, and even kill some of our friends and neighbors, but you can not take away our spirit.

At Handson, the people, although largely different than in October, are still as nice. Again as I said before, almost “too nice.” They can’t really be as caring, kind, and considerate, can they? In every one of my dealings so far, it sure seems that they are.

The work has changed some. Mold abatement has replaced tree removal and gutting as the “cool” jobs. Work is being done on so-called lower priority jobs such as street clean-up and cemetery fix-ups. These are obviously important quality of life jobs, but are not the first things one would do after a catastrophe.

In a way, Biloxi is responding like a sick patient who is getting better, but that you can still tell is no where near back to normal. And remember, I only saw the parts of town that were least heavily damaged. Over the course of the next week I will report from some of the more severely affected areas.

Short Bits:

*The view from the plane on the way in showed much damage still exists in surrounding areas. I tried taking pictures but to not think they turned out

*Overall, any fear that there would not be enough work for our March trip has been driven far from consciousness. Indeed, the idea of another fall or summer trip has arisen. But one thing at a time. March comes first.

*Dinner was lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and corn.

*It was in the upper 60s when I ran at 6pm.

*Handson has more people now than in October. I would guess 100? Darius gave an interesting talk on the history and future of Handson after the nightly meeting. He laid to rest most of the concerns people have been having about HandsonNetwork. It seems like a great match and there should be some real synergies.

*On Saturday, Jen and I plan on working with the Humane Society in the AM and then on the cemetery clean up/fix up in the afternoon (the mold crew was filled)

*The internet hook-up is still frustratingly slow.

*Closed circuit for Suzanne: I brought my own orange juice this time ;)

Friday, December 30, 2005

The news is not all bad: The worst of times, the best of times.

Dickens had it right. “It is the worst of times, it is the best of times.”

There can be no arguing that Katrina was a horrible storm. It damaged property, destroyed homes, and took over 1300 lives. It was bad, indeed really bad. But it also brought out the best of many people.

You read that correctly. It brought out the best. Sure, it may not be the news we see on TV, but the good news is out there.

Now before I get people upset, to focus on the positive is not to deny the negative. Katrina did bring out the worst in some—the lootings, the deaths, the killings of pets (from both abandonment and from shooting), and the barely concealed racism are all serious problems that must be rectified and rectified quickly. But for now I want to push the negative aside and focus on the positive.

It is too easy to overlook the positive. Bad news gets ratings, and hence press coverage. Good news gets brushed aside. But for every incidence of looting or shooting, there have been literally hundreds of cases of neighbor helping neighbor and of volunteers going above and beyond any reasonable call of duty. Each of these thousands and thousands of selfless heroes deserves to be made known and the story of their valor be passed along as both a reward to them for their action and as an example for other both now and in the future.

Unfortunately today we’ll only meet a few of these heroes. They may not be the best examples, but they are examples I know and because of that I will share their stories. Dave Driscoll, Ron Flores, and Christine Francis but I trust that their stories will be example enough to convince you of the good that the storm has wrought.

Dave Driscoll (who I was fortunate to work with in Biloxi and later interview for podcast) has given seven weeks to the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. Seven weeks. In an era when attention spans are measured in seconds, Dave has worked for seven weeks without receiving a cent.

Dave has worked with Handson, with DisasterCorps, and independently with a friend from New Orleans. He has gutted flooded homes, hauled garbage, cared for abandoned animals, handed out food, clothes, blankets, cleaning supplies, bikes and even Halloween candy. He has served as an airport shuttle service, cleaned lots for FEMA trailers, and most importantly shown the survivors that they have not been forgotten. From all if us, Thank you Dave!

In the days after Katrina, chaos reigned. Reports of lootings, shootings and death (of people, animals, and even a city) filled the airwaves and the papers. And on NOLA’s volunteer forum a hero rose above the rest of us. Ron Flores, Ronnie, had been in the midst of a move from Covington Louisiana to Las Vegas when Katrina decided to alter his plans.

While FEMA and virtually every other large relief organization were spinning their wheels, Ronnie dropped his plans and returned to the Gulf Coast. With seemingly endless energy Ronnie was everywhere. He was online, on the phone, and on the ground. He was there at 7:00 AM and at 2:00 AM. Directing supplies to those in need, encouraging would be volunteers, while simultaneously working himself “gitting ‘er done.”

Ron became an instant legend.

My first direct interaction with this legend came as a result of an attempt to find a place to volunteer in early October. I emailed him at about 1:00 AM. He got back to me almost at once telling me to call him. I hesitated. “do you know what time it is?” I responded. “Yeah, so what?, I’m up.” So I called.

By the time I hung up Verizon was a little richer and I had been sold on the importance of volunteering, on HandsonUSA, and on various ways we could help from hundred of miles away. I was just lucky he wasn’t selling used cars or I would be driving a 1975 Pinto.

Not knowing Ron, I fully expected him to fade into the horizon as more established relief agencies got their footing. After all, it takes quite the person to be the “go to person” for hundred and then suddenly step aside and take a smaller role within a larger group. But when we got to Biloxi, there he was—cutting trees, clearing lots for trailers, and still leading by example. Lead on Ronnie, lead on.

The final hero, or more appropriately heroine, is Bonaventure’s own Christine Francis. I did not know Christine prior to an email I received from her in September. She had heard I would be taking a group of Bonaventure students to Mississippi and wanted to go. However, she was busy with a job and school and could not make the meetings. Then she could not make the make-up meeting. But she wrote that she still wanted to go. Finally, when we did meet, she seemed both too busy and too nervous to go. She went anyways.

By the end of our October trip she was so sold on the idea of helping that she has to be talked out of dropping out of school to work in the affected areas. Back at Bonaventure she quickly assumed a leadership position in the planning of our March trip.

In late November she announced that she was forgoing her Christmas break at home with her family and instead was going to volunteer in Mississippi for the entire break. What is that about college students not caring? Christine made short work of that stereotype. Keep up the awesome work Christine, you have done more to show that college students care than you will ever know.

In coming blog entries Iplan to introduce you to more of these heroes, but for now I hope that these three are enough for you to realize that Katrina did bring out the best in some people. And so the next time you read of such-and-such happening bad as a result of Katrina, remember that the bad news is only one side of the story. Remember it is the worst of times, it is the best of times.

Blue tarps cost how much?

Only FEMA. Only FEMA...

From come more evidence of FEMA's abilities.
"Depending on the extent of damage and the size of the roof, the federal government is paying anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $5,000 to install a typical tarp. The cost to taxpayers to tack up a covering of blue vinyl is roughly the same, on a per-square-foot basis, as what a homeowner would pay to install a basic asphalt-shingle roof."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Teachers begin Gulf Coast relief effort |

See, I am not the only one saying it!

Teachers begin Gulf Coast relief effort |
"It's been four months since Hurricane Katrina crushed the Gulf Coast, but during their two-week trip to the ravaged region, a group of Baldwin-Whitehall educators learned the devastation is still very present.

The crew led by Baldwin High School teachers Richard Yount and Joseph Murray traveled to the areas of Bay St. Louis and Waveland, Miss. -- the heart of August's storm -- from Nov. 20 to Dec. 3.

'I had no idea what to expect,' said Yount. 'We had little preparation. But by the time we came back, I was fully fulfilled and gratified by giving my time. I gained so much more than I gave.'"

Back to Biloxi: Silent Nights on the Gulf Coast

From Marianna's Back to Biloxi's blog.

Back to Biloxi: Silent Nights on the Gulf Coast:
"John Grisham wrote this excellent editorial in the New York Times. It's a bit long, but a great read."
She links to the actual article, it is a MUST read. So READ IT! ;)

Grisham (who is from Mississippi) proves for the upteenth time that he is a really good writer whether dealing with lawyers, death row inmates, High school football team reunions, or hurricane survivors.

While I can not stress enough, READ THE ARTICLE, here is a taste:
"As with the tents in the Village, you look at the FEMA trailers and wonder how temporary they really are. No houses are being built. Many of those damaged will remain untouched while the great debate with insurance companies over wind damage versus water damage is played out in court. Many months will pass before there is significant new construction. "
Enough? No? Ok, one more bite:
"A FEMA trailer is too small for a Christmas tree, so those who can muster enough spirit set them outside, either under an awning or tied to the trailer hitch. Driving around in the evening, I found it heartening to see a few tiny trees and some colorful lights. They illuminated the trailers and threw dim shadows on the ubiquitous rubble. Otherwise, the nights are very dark and quiet along the Coast."

So sad...but on the plus side, that Grisham guy might turn out to be an OK writer yet ;)

HandsOnUSA's blog

Dave Campbell (Handson's founder reflects after the death of his mother in law:

"Yesterday was the anniversary of the terrible tsunami that ripped through the Indian Ocean, taking over 225,000 lives in minutes, and leaving physical and emotional scars that will survive for many years. But it was out of that devastation that HandsOnThailand was born, so in all change there is an opportunity, maybe even a mandate, for new changes to appear. The world reacted in such a spontaneous outpouring of shared grief, offers of aid, and extraordinary outreach by governments and individuals to this disaster that it seemed to bring us all closer together, if only for an occasion. Katrina galvanized a similar response in the US, and all of us who have witnessed the brutal destruction wrought by this extraordinary disaster recognize the years of cooperative effort that will be required to help put people's lives back together."

Read the rest! It is well worth it!!! He also addresses the controversy surrounding Handson new joint venture/merger with the HandsonNetwork group.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Rating the year's bright spots

The Secret Society of Happy People (uh, ok) recently released their list of happiest moments of 2005. #1 may interest you!

Rating the year's bright spots:
"...Happy moment number two was word from medical researchers that being happy is good for your health.

...the year's happiest moments were when people rushed to help victims of natural disasters, here and abroad."

Video of Waveland

When I was sent this I had reservations since I never know how to take some of their posts (definitely tend to be a tad too political for my tastes), but that said, the video on Katrina is good--9 minutes and 26 seconds--and gives a good look at how bad the destruction is as well a look at teh comeback that is in process.


Favorite quote: "every little thing is a big thing."

Monday, December 26, 2005

Jeff and Dave's video

These guys were in Biloxi when we were. They then played a big role in Rita relief and have gone on to form the ReleifNow Network.

Their video on the destruction (both physically and mentally) and recovery efforts is very good!

Christine's Pre-Christmas reports from Biloxi

December 23, 2005--Christine Francis reporting from Biloxi

Just wanted to drop you a quick line. Another good day in Biloxi for me. We painted two houses today. It's something new with the interior process. Now after they gut the house out inside, a mold crew goes in and scrapes and vacuums every square inch of the house and gets rid of all of the mold. Then they leave the houses overnight and they go back in the next day and use what is called "kill" to paint the walls and all of the studs in the house. I did the painting today with Owen, Nate, and Andrew. It went really well.

Crews are small because alot of people left for the holidays, but we still managed to do two houses and return to base fairly early. We used paint sprayers, so yep, I was COVERED in paint when we returned to base, even tho we wore those TYVEK suit things. But, luckily I only have some white spots left here and there on my face and arms. Not too bad.

Tomorrow I am going to go out with the Christmas decorating crew...they go around and decorate people's trailors with decorations for Christmas. I am excited to do that. I'm getting into the Christmas spirit.

I will call when I find the time. It's been really hectic with just getting here and trying to meet everyone and find out who is still here from when we were down last. But, lights went out about five minutes ago, so I am going to get in bed and read until I fall asleep. Painting really did wear me out today, and my arm hurts from holding the paint sprayer...haha. I'll talk to you soon!
Merry X-mas!


And then slightly later (in response to my question on whether Handson would be able to use our volunteers in March):

"...Hands On is definitely staying for up to another year, of course with
the name Hands On Network. I don't know where they will be stationed, but I have
talked to Mark, who is the other leader other than Darius, and they are coming
to get started on the fifth of January I believe. So I will still be here and
will be able to talk to the leaders of it and try to set some things up so a
group from Bonaventure will be able to stay here with them, and I imagine a
large group will be able to, because I guess their plan is to have more...300
volunteers at a time. Sounds good!!

I am going to hang Christmas decorations on FEMA trailors now. Can't wait to get to talk to some people and see how they are doing during the Christmas season!"

Christine Francis Reports from Biloxi

Christine Francis went down to Biloxi in October. She is one of the main student leaders of the BonaResponds group. She is spending her Chirstmas break back with Handson. She will be giving us updates on what it is like now in Biloxi and what she is doing.

December 21, 2005--I'm here and just woke up for my first day of real
work. It's pretty cold down here right now...I'm quite surprised. Totally new faces too...only a few that I really recognize. But that's ok...everyone is still really nice.

Darius isn't here right now. He is in Atlanta for two days...should be back by tomorrow or the day after so
I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet about anything come March. I will keep on that tho and do it as soon as he returns.

Today I am going to take it easy and not gut houses or anything. I figure I got a taste of that in October and I should try some other things I'm going to be here for about a month...plenty of time to try
everything on the board. Today I am going to go to the Boys and Girls Club in Biloxi and hang out with the
little kids and play games with them and things like that. Should be an interesting experience. They said they
had play doh for them today and a whole bunch of board games....

Take Care,


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Doctors in Hancock County upset at volunteers

Interesting debate. I have to side with the volunteers, but do appreciate the doctors' positions.


"The few local doctors who have reopened practices in the county don't see it
that way and Gallup and her staff have already met staunch resistance. The
concern is this: As local doctors slowly start to return, they -- like thousands
of others here -- will have to rebuild their homes and business, but they'll
have to do it while continuing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for malpractice insurance and other fees.

Many of the county's physicians lost their homes and offices to Katrina's winds and water and they fear the free clinics may be stealing what's left of their clientele. "

Santa made it to HandsonUSA! :)

originally uploaded by Hands On Worldwide.
Santa made it to HandsonUSA and they definitely deserve it for all the good they have done this year!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hands On USA and Fairytale Brownies Join Hands for Katrina Relief: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Hands On USA and Fairytale Brownies Join Hands for Katrina Relief: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance: "Fairytale Brownies, a gourmet brownie bakery based in Phoenix, will team up with Hands On USA to distribute brownies to these communities the week of December 26th. 'We hope our brownies will bring a smile to those displaced by Katrina,' says Eileen Spitalny, founder and CEO of Fairytale Brownies. 'But more importantly, we hope this gesture shows that the rest of the country hasn't forgotten about them, especially during the holidays.'"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

NY Times agrees: there is much work to do!!!

There is still much work to do, so if you can get down there to volunteer, by all means do so, if not, why not donate to either pay for someone else to go down, or to any of the many organizations on the ground.

From the NY Times:

"The tent city here is one of three set up in recent weeks along the Mississippi coast, making room for families now that the emergency shelters have closed and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working through a backlog of some 5,000 families still on waiting lists for government-supplied travel trailers or mobile homes.

...In Pass Christian, the need is especially dire....

The work of clearing debris and the crushed remains of about 2,000 houses is far short of the halfway mark. As a result, construction of large amounts of new housing is still months off."

Remember, we're going. You can too!

AP Wire | 12/13/2005 | The future of Bay St. Louis neighborhoods could be prefabricated

AP Wire | 12/13/2005 | The future of Bay St. Louis neighborhoods could be prefabricated: "'There's just not going to be enough builders to do all the construction that needs to be done.'

The homes would be built in a factory in another part of the country and shipped to the area. It takes about four months to assemble the homes onsite.

A 1,000-square-foot house on the rubble-filled Ballentine Street is the first to appear in Bay St. Louis. It was built by Allen Associates in Santa Barbara, Calif., and delivered on trucks.

The company is designing them to match the traditional feeling of Bay St. Louis homes.

Prefab homes tend to cost about 40 percent less, per square foot, than regular homes and they often are a better quality structure, Dennis said."

Repairs, revenue top needs in Bay St. Louis - The Clarion-Ledger

Repairs, revenue top needs in Bay St. Louis - The Clarion-Ledger:
"Although city services and most utilities have been restored to every place where a connection is viable, about 30 percent of the homes and 80 percent of the businesses were wiped out."

"Few damaged businesses have reopened. No fast-food restaurants and only a handful of gas stations are open...."
Bay St. Louis had four grocery stories before Katrina. Now the only grocery shopping is in a Wal-Mart that partially has reopened. Otherwise, everyone is driving to Gulfport or Slidell and Mandeville, both across the state line in Louisiana."Everybody in the city is almost on equal ground. Everywhere you go, you're standing in a line for gas, groceries and food," Olsen said."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

HandsOnUSA and HandsonNetwork

WOW! Major news. Short version: HandsonUSA is joining forces with HandsonNetwork and staying in Biloxi!!!! :)

Dave Campbell (the FOunder of HandsOnUSA):
"And even better, they had decided to launch a sustained effort providing volunteer services on the GulfCoast, starting Feb 1 ( our planned end-date had been 'end of January'). We've had a number of meetings with the folks from HandsOnNetwork, and plan on joining them as a disaster response affilliate, and help launch their effort here in Mississippi, including providing assistance from our Operations Directors, Darius and Mark, and working to move some of our volunteer leaders into ongoing positions with them ( if they so choose). We will be working together from our Operations Center in Biloxi over the month of January, and expect that we can make the transition smooth and effective."

Rt 90 to open

from Biloxi city website:

" All lanes of U.S. 90 in Biloxi – from Debuys Road to the tip of Point Cadet – will re-open to traffic on Wednesday, Dec. 21, Mayor A.J. Holloway announced this afternoon, after meeting with the city’s debris removal teams and public safety department heads."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

FEMA to pick up trailers 18 months after storm

From YahooNews:

"FEMA said the trailers will be picked up by contractors 18 months after the storm hit.

That means if you don't get a trailer until six months after the storm, you will only get to live in it for 12 months."

Mark February 2007 on your calendars, I can hear the firestorm brewing already! Of course residents may take some solace in the fact that if FEMA is as fast picking up the trailers as they were delivering them, it may be a tad longer ;). (Sorry I couldn't resist that was just too easy!)

Flickr: Photos from Hands On Worldwide

I have looked at literally hundreds of pictures from Handson since we left, (both here and elsewhere).

While I was mainly looking to see how things are changing, I was also trying to see if anything "we" had done had made an impact (yeah I know, but I still wanted to actually SEE something in a picture--a house that we had worked on now being rebuilt, a FEMA trailer in a yard, etc.). I realize they are, but still just wanted to see it.

Well finally, I found something. However minor it may be:the orange stickers on the cabinets in the kitchen are still there! :) lol. And of course the tool shed that Andy and Mary helped on.

Can you tell it is the middle of finals week adn I am tired of tests and correcting?!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Salon's look at the recovery effort News | Everything's broken:
"Dec. 13, 2005 | EAST BILOXI, Miss. -- More than three months after Hurricane Katrina's jagged front edge tore into Mississippi's Gulf Coast like a runaway chainsaw, East Biloxi remains a shattered community of poor people living amid their ruins, facing an uncertain future"

While I am not sure it should be government's role, I will say that many people believe it to be so, and if it is, then FEMA etc failed (and are failing)

But we can help. And to paraphrase Nelson Mandela "if we can help, we must help."

My favorite line from the article: "Real hurricane relief for the poor is coming not from the government or big charities but the kindness of strangers."

Handson gets some nice coverage on page is worth the advertisement to view it!

MSN Health & Fitness - Katrina Leaves Widespread Depression in Her Wake

More on the mental aspects of the storm.

MSN Health & Fitness - Katrina Leaves Widespread Depression in Her Wake: "Those who suffered the wrath of Hurricane Katrina didn't just lose their homes.

They lost what Columbia University psychiatrist Dr. Mindy T. Fullilove calls their 'way of being in the world' -- their families, their neighborhoods, their communities.

And this overwhelming obliteration is triggering mental-health ramifications of an unprecedented magnitude."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A letter to the editor that all volunteers should read!

If you are on the fence as to whether to volunteer or not, or if you wonder if your efforts are appreciated, read the following email that I received:

"Hello Jim,

My name is S____, I too am a HOUSA volunteer. I haven't had a chance to meet you, but maybe we will on your next trip....I know that you have been working on motivating your students for this coming relief mission and I found this recent letter in the Sun Herald. I hope that it is helpful:

Letter to the editor of the Sun Herald:

"Grateful hearts for your willing hands

I want to thank all of the volunteers who live here and especially those who have traveled from all over the States to come lend a helping hand during these trying times. I think it is great to have so many people taking off from their jobs and traveling away from their families to show the kindness of their hearts.

It is one thing to come a few days after a major tragedy like Hurricane Katrina, but it is another thing to come two and three months after the storm. Many people do not have the money right now to pay people to remove the debris from their yards and tear out carpet and sheetrock. It is wonderful to have help with these laborious tasks.


The email from the HANDSON volunteer also contained the following:
"Personally, I have to say that my experiences in Mississippi have all been deeply meaningful - whether it was in the days immediately after the hurricane when I first arrived (August 31st), or a on subsequent trip. ...I have a feeling that this coming trip (#4) may somehow be the most meaningful of all. In the end, no trip, has been more, or less, important than the others. They each had their own importance and meaning. Knowing what I know now, I would not want to have to tell someone one day in the future that I had the opportunity to go to Mississippi to help with the relief and that I did not go. "

Warmest wishes on your endeavors,

S____ S____

I removed the name of the volunteer (since I do not yet have permission) but hope to get it as she should be acknowledged as a hero in this releif effort!

So are you coming? Bonaventure Responds

360 Degree Panoramas: Hurricane Katrina

What a view. 360 degree views of the destruction. Unreal.

Thanks TC for the link!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Route 90 to open

From the City of Biloxi:
"MDOT and public safety leaders, Mayor A.J. Holloway has announced that the two southernmost lanes of U.S. 90 in Biloxi -- from Debuys Road to Porter Avenue – will open to two-way traffic on Saturday morning at 10.

The two northernmost lanes of the highway will be open only to debris-removal crews, who face the task of removing a large volume of storm debris that property owners have moved to the roadside."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Dartmouth News - Dartmouth students will spend winter break helping with hurricane relief - 11/18/05


A group from Dartmouth was there when we were in Biloxi. Great to see they are still at it!!

Dartmouth News - Dartmouth students will spend winter break helping with hurricane relief - 11/18/05: "On Dec. 8, a group of Dartmouth students and staff will depart for a much-anticipated journey. But instead of going home for winter break, they will head to Biloxi, Miss., where they will lend a hand as the city works to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. The two-week service trip in December, and a subsequent trip in the spring, are being funded by the College"

Friday, December 09, 2005

CNS STORY: Out-of-town volunteers offer helping hand toward New Orleans recovery

CNS STORY: Out-of-town volunteers offer helping hand toward New Orleans recovery: "NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Since Hurricane Katrina, hands have been reaching out to New Orleans from all over the world -- hands that want to help New Orleans begin its journey down the road to recovery.

On Thanksgiving weekend, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans planned to launch Operation Helping Hands, bringing in volunteers from across the country to do the manual work that is so necessary to begin the process of rebuilding New Orleans."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005



I could spend hours just on this site! Very interesting look at the storm's aftermath as well as impact on government readiness for next storm.

Hancock County (MS) EOC Public Information

Hancock County (MS) EOC Public Information: "Public information page of the Hancock County, Mississippi Emergency Operations Center"

Useful blog to find out how things are going in Hancock County.

Today is day 100. Enough said.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Disaster Corps, Disaster Survivors In Action, Hurricane Disaster Relief

We have tentatively committed to working with Disaster Corps out of Bay St. Louis for at least some of our Spring Relief trip.

Check out their newsletter and pictures (which are brand new! December).

So come on down!!!!

Interview with Darius Monsef of HandsonUSA

Known to thousands of Handson volunteers simply as "Darius", Darius Monsef has been the operations Driector of HandonUSA in Biloxi MS for four months now. He speaks on what has been accomplished, why volunteering is worthwhile, and much more. Well worth the 15 minutes!

Waveland, Mississippi

Waveland, Mississippi: "'I'm realizing that I have nothing left,' she says.

Money is a major stress, as she tries to care for her 4-year-old daughter who was traumatized by the storm.

'She can't have what she used to,' says Ball. '[I'm] just trying to redo it, just make her happy, really.'

The mayor says his toughest job right now is being a counselor to people who need a place to vent.

'Keep your chin up,' he tells one resident.

'I'm trying, but they condemn[ed] my house,' is one woman's reply.

Everyone in Waveland is in the same boat.

'Everybody has virtually lost everything they have,'"

New Orleanians Work to Save Historic Homes - Yahoo! News

Good news out of New Orleans...well at least better news!

New Orleanians Work to Save Historic Homes - Yahoo! News: "Early on, many preservation advocates feared that entire neighborhoods would be razed in the name of jump-starting the rebuilding process, but that scenario appears increasingly unlikely.

'The war may be over in terms of any wholesale demolition,' said Camille Strachan, a New Orleans resident and former National Trust board member.

The city's preliminary survey of damage also has yielded encouraging news for preservation-minded residents.

Michael Centineo, director of the city Department of Safety and Permits, said in mid-November that inspectors had surveyed the exteriors of 114,127 buildings. They slapped green tags on 31,662 buildings with minimal or no damage and yellow tags on 79,325 with only partial structural damage."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Larry Orsini Interview Part 2

The second part of my interview with Larry Orsini is now online.

Larry Orsini Interview Part 2 | Ourmedia

THANKS LARRY! - New Orleans revisited - New Orleans revisited: "In the French Quarter, the ridge of high ground that made New Orleans famous, you can almost pretend Hurricane Katrina never happened. The smell of chicory coffee wafts onto the sidewalks. Jazz spills from the clubs. The storied streets bustle.

But that veneer of normalcy is deceiving, even dangerous, to the city. With its short attention span, the public could easily latch onto this portrait of plenty and forget that large and less-visited swaths of New Orleans remain without. Without power and light, without jobs and a tax base, without inhabitable homes and without working schools."

Larry Orsini interview part1.mp3

Larry Orisini is a former SBU accounting professor who is now retired. He spent about three weeks working in New Orleans, Jackson MS, and Biloxi.

This week I had the opportunity to interview him on what he saw and what work we will have when we get their in March.

In the first of two parts. In this he speaks on the destruction he saw and what the people are going through.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Great quote!

North Jersey Media Group providing local news, sports & classifieds for Northern New Jersey!: "community-based efforts are helping Bay St. Louis through the city's gradual rebuilding effort.

'We measure our progress in inches,' Cuevas said. 'Every day we see one of our streets cleaned, or a truck arrives with supplies, or gas is reconnected to someone's house, is a good day.'"

WBIR.COM - COMMENTARY: A very special Thanksgiving in Bay St. Louis

Thanksgiving in Bay St. Louis

WBIR.COM - COMMENTARY: A very special Thanksgiving in Bay St. Louis: "All doubt disappears once we turn off the Interstate about 30 miles north of the coast. We're now on a two-lane road that's full of logging trucks in both directions. The damage is already worse than I expected. There are no street signs or mailboxes - just sheets of plywood with a house number and sometimes a name scrawled in spray paint.

Three months after Katrina, there are still piles of debris everywhere, and the blue plastic tarps are only beginning to give way to new metal roofing. At one home, an entire sheet of vinyl ripped from a billboard has been pressed into service as roofing. I can't make out what it used to advertise."