Friday, August 04, 2006

A Week on the Coast in Pearlington ... Adam Daniel

Pearlington: The Lost Town
Alright, I'm back from my excursion down on the coast in Pearlington. Talk about a trip! Pearlington is right on the coast, and the Mississippi/Louisiana border. It's a small town of no more than 1,500 people, and was completely wiped out.
I got a really cool story of living at the Pearlington Recovery Center and becoming a volunteer for seven days. Little did I know that Pearlington has many problems that other towns along the coast are not facing.

When I arrived I was taken back that the town looks in a condition of about two months after the hurricane! I met up with Laurie Spaschak the Director of the volunteer center and learned that it has been an uphill battle for these folks. Working for a state government agency I felt frustrated with the lack of government support on the national, state, and even local levels.

I met people who had just gotten into FEMA trailers not two weeks prior in June or July. Some were still living in tents. I also met people that the regulations and rules ended up hurting their everyday lives. One woman could not use the bathroom in her trailer because her new home had just been put on a foundation. Since plumbing had not yet been hooked up to it she had to use her sister’s trailer just for water! One man, who was a WWII vet and a police officer for 50 years lost everything, used a cane and they had to fight FEMA to get him a handicapped trailer.

Now I’m not blaming the government agencies for their work. They’ve had their work cut out for them during this crisis. But the general distain for government in Pearlington is quite high because of the lack of effort after a year, especially since they are seeing Biloxi and Gulfport getting the aid.
On the plus side though, Pearlington has a high influx of volunteer work coming from other states. While I was there I tagged along with two church groups, Wesley United Methodist Church from Mason City, Iowa, and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church from Ankney, Iowa. They did everything from installing drywall, roofing, construction, plumbing, and a ton of other projects in Pearlington that was quite helpful.

Laurie the Director of the Recovery Center was great. She gave me a lot of interesting projects to do. I was able to meet local residents who all had interesting stories to tell. Even though I was able to help out for only a week I felt like I had made a difference in someone’s life.

RockYou slideshow | View | Add Favorite


At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your slide show at the bottom. I lke goats.

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Tbro said...

I certainly hope you meant like.

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous elaine said...

Nice to read your article. I really appreciated the time you invested in telling the story of Pearlington. Both you and Randy gave of yourselves to the people. Thank You. Let us know in Iowa when the program will air.

At 9:00 AM, Blogger lions_f8th said...

Thank you, I'm from Pearlington.

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if you realize what a wonderful program Beyond Katrina has been and how much it will be missed. I wonder if the segments are being aired in other parts of the country and if they are available for sale?

At 8:14 PM, Blogger Leslie said...

Pearlington does face many problems most towns don't. It isn't incorporated for one, and another is no town leadership - it must look to the county for any type of gov't oversite. Makes life very challenging in these difficult times. Add that all infrastructure was lost, not to mention 95% of structures, no sewers, precious few septic systems and constant contamination of wells and it's a slow go of it!

Know that I am doing what I can for P-ton and Hancock County through my series of blogs and that I will continue to do all I can for them. My heart is with Pearlington, and while I can't come down due to disability, I move as much aid as I can to that town before any other.


At 8:19 PM, Blogger Leslie said...

I forgot to tell you! - yes, the Beyond Katrina series is being shown elsewhere. I don't know who all is picking it up - but I know it's being shown up here at least occasionally on our PBS station - upstate NY - WSKG

At 5:58 AM, Blogger bluecat said...

Your trip to Pearlington warmed my heart. I was there for only a little bit (due to time constraints) during the 1 year anniversary week of Katrina. I was totally shocked by the devastation. There just aren't many words to describe what Pearlington has suffered.

I hope people outside of the affected areas have seen "Beyond Katrina" and that they will want to help our coast. However, it has been extremely difficult for me to catch all of the episodes and I'm a Mississippian.

I hope that MPB will rerun all of the episodes. It would be wonderful if national media - such as National Geographic or The Weather Channel - would pick up the shows and air them as a series. Otherwise, I fear that our coast, and especially tiny communities like Pearlington, will continue to go unnoticed. I fear that our coast will be forgotten altogether as time passes and people outside of the affected areas become immune to Katrina.

Thank you for a great episode! The goats were too cute and you did a great job with them!


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