Grant Assisting Building Inspection
County hires 2 new building inspectors
By DWAYNE BREMER
Dec 27, 2006, 09:04
The Hancock County Board of Supervisors subscribed to the theory that two is better than one as they hired two people to lead the county building department when current building official Mickey Lagasse leaves at the end of this month.
Current county inspectors Jerry Beaugez, 36, and Anthony Cuevas, 37, will share combined duties as the top building officials in the county.
Lagasse who resigned last month, stayed on until his replacements could be chosen. He said the decision to hire two officials was recommended by the county's Planning and Zoning Board.
Supervisors agreed to promote both Beaugez and Cuevas and give each a $10,000 a year raise.
Lagasse had received a $21,000 raise six months ago for his dual duties as building department head and head of planning and zoning.
Both Beaugez and Cuevas said they are looking forward to the new position and they will work with each other to make sure residents get the same services they have always gotten.
"There is a lot of rebuilding still to be done," Beaugez said. "We understand the fact that a lot of people need our help, and that is what we are here for."
"We want to do our best to help people get back to normal," Cuevas said.
Building departments have been in the spotlight since Hurricane Katrina. The top officials in Waveland, Bay St. Louis, and the county have all resigned since the storm.
Last June, supervisors approved the international building codes for all structures in the county. The county building department also received a $500,000 grant from the state to assist in the implementation of the codes as well as assist with personnel and salaries.
Labels: Article, building, hancock county, katrina, recovery
Hancock County Jail Fire
Hancock holding facility shut down
By DWAYNE BREMER
Dec 27, 2006, 09:03
The temporary holding facility at the Hancock County Sheriff's Department has been shut down for safety concerns following a fire, which was started by inmates over the weekend, Sheriff Steve Garber said Tuesday.
"There are some safety violations we need to fix," he said. According to Garber, two inmates being held in the 8-man unit started a fire Sautrday. The fire damaged the facilities air-conditioning unit, and the state Fire Marshall has recommended the unit be shut down until improvements and repairs can be made, Garber said.
The county has had the holding unit for about a year. Garber said inmates are held in the unit until they can be transported to Pearl River County or Stone County.
He said this weekend's events and reports of possible jail abuse at the Pearl River County Jail only emphasizes the need for Hancock County to have its own jail.
Tuesday morning, Hancock County had 95 inmates held in the Pearl River County Jail, in Millard. Inmates are being held in Pearl River because Hurricane Katrina severly damaged the Hancock County Jail on Court St. To date, nothing has been done with the Hancock County jail, as Supervisors have claimed insurance settlements and structural determinations from FEMA are still on-going.
"Its time we start visiting the jail issue," Garber said. "We need to make a decision."
Garber has expressed the desire to have a new jail built somewhere in the north end of the county.
Supervisors have said if the old jail is less than 50 percent damaged then it will probably be renovated and reopened on Court St.Garber said the 8-man unit was only supposed to be a temporary fix.
"Its been 18 months now," he said. "It was never intended to be permanent."
He said inmates who have a small bond are held in the unit until they can post bond. Inmates who have to go to court are also held in the unit.
By housing the inmates in the unit, transportation and man power costs are greatly reduced, he said.
He said inmates will now have to be transported right away until the temporary unit is repaired.
Jason Duffy, 33, and Patrick Zwiefel, 21, have been charged with destroying public property in connection with the fire, jail records show.
Labels: Article, hancock county, jail, katrina, police, relief
Unemployment rate in Hancock Co. dips below 7 percent
By DON HAMMACKdthammack@sunherald.com
Unemployment rates fell below 7 percent in Hancock County for November, its lowest rate since Hurricane Katrina, according to numbers released by the state this morning.
The Mississippi Department of Employment Security said unemployment fell four-tenths of a point from October, to 6.8 percent. The August 2005 rate, the last before the storm affected the statistics, was 5.9 percent.
The November rate in Harrison County rose slightly to 8.3 percent, up one-tenth of a point. In Jackson County, the rate rose two-tenths to 6.9 percent.
The Mississippi unemployment rate was 6.9 percent, up three-tenths of a point, but 2 points lower than it was a year ago.
The national rate for November was 4.5 percent.
Labels: Article, employment, hancock county, katrina
Manna Ministries offices
are located at 795 Memorial Blvd Picayune, MS 39466Manna Ministries medical clinic and food, clothing distribution
is located at 18 Stafford Road Picayune, MSWe have changed our clinic days
. We are now open Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday
to better serve our community.Manna food & clothing distribution
has been serving peoples physcial needs of providing them with food and clothing for over six years. We serve approximately 500 families a week with food and clothing. We also serve our community throughout the year with special days like Thanksgiving, Christmas and in times of disaster.Manna free medical clinic
began operation in 2005 a life long dream come to pass. The medical clinic was instrumental during the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. We were the only medical help in our city due to our hospital being severly damage and unable to function. With the help of local Doctors and Nurses we were able to provide much needed help to thousands of people. The medical clinic provides families without health insurance medical services.The Haven
is our ministry to mentally and physically challenged people. We allow parents to enjoy a Sunday service while our staff and volunteers minister to their children in a service specifically designed for them.Drug Assistance Program
. Our drug assistance program helps people without insurance work through the paper process to help them get the medication they need for free or at a reduced price.Benevolence.
Our benevolence program helps people get back on their feet when they have gone through a tragedy, disaster or in need of emergency funding. This is run every month and we help as many as we can or until our funds are depleted for that month.Home food and clothing delivery
is for those who are home ridden and those without transportation.Manna Crossroads
is our food and clothing distribution to the Crossroads, MS area and Southeast Louisanna area.The Pines Retirement
food and clothing delivery has been added to assist those who need help but can't get to the Manna Building.
For more information on Benevolence contact Jameye or Dixie at 601-798-4511 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Labels: assistance, donate, hancock county, katrina, ministry, volunteer
HANCOCK COUNTY — Most people believed the days of rebels in overalls cooking up 100-proof whiskey deep in the backwoods of this county were long gone, at least since Prohibition was repealed in 1933.
And certainly, since the emergence of legal distilleries such as Jack Daniel and Jim Beam, all of Uncle Jessie’s secret moonshine had vanished along with his hoodsliding, bootlegging nephews, right?
From June 2005 to the same time this year, revenue agents have dismantled 12 moonshine distilleries in Mississippi’s backwoods.
On Monday, the Alcoholic Beverage Control made one of the largest whiskey still discoveries in recent history, hidden in a rundown tin shack near Rocky Hill Road in an area once considered the bootleg capital of the South.
ABC agents arrested 63-year-old Willie “Junior” Necaise on felony charges of possession of an illicit distillery and possession of nontax-paid whiskey.
Agents said the whiskey recovered was between 90 and 100 proof and sells for about $20 a gallon.
In the early 1900s, Prohibition laws helped spark the boom of moonshine, and the thick woods along the Jourdan River in Hancock County offered great cover for bootleggers. Today, many locals still know the whiskey only as “Jourdan River Dew.”
Last month, the state’s only licensed brewery began bottling its beer in limited-edition growler jugs, reminiscent of the moonshine days, to pay homage to Hancock’s rich history of bootlegging.
Mark Smith, the ABC agent in charge, said the whiskey still was operational when it was discovered. Agents reportedly received a tip that led them to the homemade still.
During the raid, agents said they recovered more than two dozen, 55-gallon barrels holding more than 1,500 gallons of mash. A 100-gallon stainless steel cooker was used to distill the whiskey. Agents estimate the operation was capable of producing about 250 gallons of moonshine a month.
“Finding a still takes more than just luck,” ABC Director Mark Hicks said. “The methods used to conceal them from law enforcement are passed down just like the recipes for moonshine.”
Hicks said moonshine is often concocted under “extremely unsanitary conditions.” Agents destroyed a still last year in which a car radiator was being used as a condenser.
An agency spokeswoman said the still found this week in Hancock County was the largest whiskey cooker ABC has destroyed in the past four years.
Labels: Article, hancock county
Building Going Well
Supers pleased with growth in nothern part of Hancock
By SEA COAST ECHO
Dec 22, 2006, 14:45
New homes and more businesses are popping up above Interstate 10 north of the Kiln, and no one’s happier than District 5 Supervisor Jay Cuevas.
“It seems like it has taken forever to see some real progress, but I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made in the last 16 months, and the future looks bright for all of Hancock County,” said Cuevas, as he rode around his district and pointed out where new subdivisions are taking shape. New single-family homes are being built off Road 357, on Rocky Hill-Dedeaux Road, on Fenton-Dedeaux Road and on Firetower Road, he said.
“We’re starting to see signs of people coming back, and I think the growth will be phenominal over the next couple of years,” said Cuevas. “Since the storm, any land north of Interstate 10 that is high and dry is a hot commodity. Land values are escalating. Everybody wants to go to high land.”
Recent land sales recorded in the office of County Tax Assessor/Collector Jimmy Ladner attests to the skyrocketing land costs. Five acres of land recently purchased on Standard-Dedeaux Road went for $47,500; nine acres on Firetower Road sold for $93.000. A 6.84-acre waterfront tract in the affluent Jourdan River Bluffsubdivision off Hwy. 603 went for $260,000, more than $39,000 an acre.
Cuevas’s District 5 is one of the largest and most populated of Hancock County’s five districts. The District begins at the junction of Hwy. 90 and Blue Meadow road, runs down Blue Meadow to past Joe’s Bayou, then follows the Jourdan River and takes in everything on the east side of Hwy. 603 all the way to Standard-Dedeaux Road. Latest estimates before the storm, placed the population at around 11,000, but nobody knows for sure how many residents have returned since Katrina. Approaching the Kiln, Hwy. 603 has become a bustling business corridor all the way to its junction to Hwy. 43 with retail shops, a farmer’s market, a bank, a U.S. Post office, restaurants, automotive repair shops, general hardware store, real estate and insurance offices.
“Now we’ve got a pharmacy in a new strip mall on the north side of Hwy. 603 and a Mexican Restaurant (3 J’s) will open soon on the south side of 603,” said Cuevas. Cuevas pointed out that Coast Electric last week vacated its Bay St. Louis headquarters, and moved its staff of 50 to a temporary trailer at 18602 Hwy. 603 while construction begins on their new headquarters.
“These people are going to be buying gas, eating in our restaurants and making purchases at the stores, which will give the economy a big boost,” said Cuevas.
Another major future tenant in the Kiln is the Mississippi National Guard. The Hancock County Board of Supervisors recently approved plans for the Guard to build a new Armory on a six-acre site off the Kiln-DeLisle Road adjacent to county’s Equine Center. The facility will be about 28,200-square-feet, and it will house the 155th Infantry Tank Company, made up of 63 soldiers, mostly from Hancock County.
F. Walker and Associates of Gulfport is the design company, and construction is expected to start within six to eight months. The federal government has allocated $12.2 million, and no local taxes are being used on the project, Cuevas said.
The facility is right down the road from the Hancock County Emergency Operations Center, and Cuevas said their proximity to each other will be a benefit to all citizens in times of storms or other emergencies.The construction and the eventual opening up of the Armory will bring even more people into the area,” said Cuevas, boosting the economy even further, and enticing more people to build or buy homes in the area, he said.
And added benefit, Cuevas said, is the Armory can also be used for functions, such as birthday parties or fund-raisers, he said.Cuevas added some additional recreational areas have also been made available in District 5 after Katrina. “The Board of Supervisors and the Hancock County School District got together to build a walking track at Hancock East Central, and its available for anyone who wants to use it,” said Cuevas. He said the Board used county labor to put in the track and the School District spent about $10,000 on materials.
The Fenton Community Center is also open on the Kile-DeLisle Road, and is available free of charge to anyone who might want to reserve it for private parties, weddings or any other activity, Cuevas said. To reserve it, Cuevas said people should call Sandra Edwards at 255—1140. Cuevas is especially proud of the $1.2 million Child Development Center nearing completion on a five-acre site on the east side of Hwy. 603, just past the new Lowe’s Home Improvement Store. The Bucks and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Katrina Relief Fund, working in conjunction with the Philadelphia Salvation Army, raised the money to build the 10,000-square-foot center, which will serve 130 pre-school youngsters, and also have been involved building or restoring playgrounds in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, in addition to restoring homes in the two cities.
Labels: Article, bay st louis, hancock county, katrina, kiln, rebuilding, waveland
Quilt Auction Helps Libraries
Thank you for the article Janet!Katrina Quilt raises $2000
Money will help damaged Hancock County libraries
By LEIGH COLEMAN
DIAMONDHEAD - Recovered fabric rescued from the wet Katrina sand and quilting supplies donated from around the country were pieced and sewn together to raise $2,000 for the Hancock County Library Foundation.
Members of the Bay Oaks Quilt Guild in Diamondhead came together with fabric and supplies from unexpected places and created a Katrina Quilt to raise money for the restoration of the county's damaged libraries.
Each block of the Katrina Quilt was pieced and quilted by the members of the quilting guild and represent the help the storm brought to South Mississippi. When the quilt was completed, it was quickly auctioned at a gala fundraiser held by the Dream One World organization in Santa Rosa,Calif.
After losing their meeting locations in Bay St. Louis to Katrina, the 30 members of the Bay Oaks Quilt Guild relocated to Diamondhead. During the storm, members lost their quilts, supplies and homes but those obstacles did not stop the determined women to pull together their resources and sew a unique creation to help the library system recover.
"We were able to get back to quilting because of the generosity of quilters from all over the country. We were sent fabric and supplies and we also used the recovered fabric that was rescued from the sand on the beach," said Gloria Burlette, a member of the Bay Oaks Quilt Guild.
To support the Hancock County Library System visit www.hancocklibraries.info
or call 467-5282.
Labels: Article, donate, hancock county, library, quilt
Books From Education Secretary
Janet - thank you for the article!
Education Secretary helps with book donations to Coast
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. - U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Raymond Simon was on the Gulf Coast this week, joining the nonprofit group First Book to deliver millions of new books to schools and libraries in Hurricane Katrina-battered areas.
Simon, speaking on Wednesday at the Hancock County Library, said libraries and schools were the glue holding communities together.
This week national nonprofit group First Book, whose mission is to give books to children from low-income families, held its Holiday Book Donation with 200,000 new books delivered to schools and libraries here.
Simon joined Bay-Waveland School Superintendent Kim Stasny in reading to elementary students."
Some of our children may never leave out of Bay St. Louis, but these new books open the world to our children," Stasny said.
Simon also took time to praise Stasny, who was recently honored as Superintendent of the Year by the state Association of School Administrators.
Stasny took over the job of superintendent eight years ago. Previously she worked as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent.
After Hurricane Katrina, 90 percent of students and faculty at the schoolswere misplaced. Stasny led the effort to reopen the Bay-Waveland schools in just 47 days.
"I can't imagine the effort it must have taken to get schools up and running in that length of time," Simon said, praising Stasny's efforts.
"There has to be true American heroes involved in that."
Despite the interruption in classes, the two schools earned exemplary status on state accreditation tests and the rest reached superior status. All schools met Adequate Yearly Progress as mandated by the federa laccountability plan, No Child Left Behind.
Labels: Article, books, donate, schools, volunteer
Toy Drive for Boys and Girls Clubs
Toy campaign will benefit Boys, Girls Clubs in Mississippi
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 9, 2006 12:00 AM PHOENIX - A local woman created a campaign this week that will offer alittle holiday cheer to needy children living near the coast of Mississippi.
When Suzanne Stahl of Phoenix discovered that several Boys & Girls Clubs along the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast had no gifts for their children this season, she had to take action. Many of these children lost their homes, even their families, to Hurricane Katrina and rely on the clubs for support and a helping hand, she said.
Stahl has set up several sites around the Valley where local residents can drop off new, unwrapped toys that will be shipped directly to the clubs. The sites will be accepting donations until Wednesday, Stahl said. The clubs need at least 1,200 toys and have until Dec. 15 before they begin distribution, but donations will continue to be accepted for thousands of other victim families in need of toys this season, Stahl said.
"I know from spending the holidays down there last year that, for many of the children, the gifts that came from around the country became the light that 'lit (their) way,' " she said. Games, puzzles, trucks, dolls, sports toys, purses and makeup cases are just some of the toys being requested. The children range in age from 5 to 18, Stahl said. "Any new, age-appropriate gift would be wonderful for a kid who has lost everything," she said.
Stahl is a volunteer for a non-profit organization called Hands on GulfCoast. She spent seven months along side hundreds of volunteers in Biloxi,Miss., mending the devastation that was left in the wake of the 2005 hurricane. Besides working with children, Stahl posted 2,600 new street signs, cleaned cemeteries and rebuilt homes.
"Somehow over the past 16 months the extraordinary has become the ordinary," she said. "My life and heart have become permanently en- twined with the residents and survivors."
For information, go to www.handsongulfcoast.org
or e-mail Stahl at email@example.com.
Labels: Article, christmas, donate, hurricane, katrina, relief, toys, volunteer
Disaster Corps in a Nonprofit with 501 (c) (3) charitable organization status with the Internal Revenue Service. We are a Public Charity. Member of North Carolina Center for Nonprofits and listed with GuideStar.
Federal Tax Identification Number: 20-3126496
D & B (Dunn and Bradstreet Number): 605725170Please feel free to contact us at:Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTelephone:
860 NC Hwy 33
Tarboro, North Carolina 27886
We are proud to announce the most innovative project in home building on the Gulf Coast. Our Southern States Director, Nancy, spearheaded the idea of Katrina Seavillas ™
All homes will be built from recycled, green and eco-friendly materials. Every home will be structurally sound to withstand hurricane force winds of over 140 mph, while also being fireproof, flood proof and offering energy savings of over 40%. Volunteers will build all the homes and each one will be recognized with a bronze plaque identifying the chronological order of completion. While this project will be a significant undertaking on the Gulf Coast, it will be a model that can be taken into future areas suffering from natural disasters. The first stage of Katrina Seavillas ™ will begin shortly along the Gulf Coast. Together, we can become a force of one and, continue our journey in "Making a Difference."
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Individuals, Corporations, Small Businesses and/or Organizations are needed to work side by side with us. For more information, please email us at: email@example.com
For Hancock County:
For new base camp: Army style tents, plywood, mess hall equipment, heaters / fans for tents, outdoor lighting, mobile shower, outdoor shower equipment, utility tables and chairs, outdoor extension cords, generator.
For home building: Concrete block, concrete, nails, wood, metal plates for foundation, torches, welding machine, paint, drywall, misc hand tools, rubber roofing materials, paint sprayer, cabinets, kitchen / bath faucets, toilets, tubs, vanities.
Tradesmen: Concrete finishers, carpenters, welders, painters, roofers, electricians, hvac, plumbers, landscapers and anyone willing to make a difference!
Labels: donate, katrina, Katrina Seavillas, organization, recovery, relief, volunteer
Lakeshore and Clermont Harbor eye incorporation
By DWAYNE BREMERDec 1, 2006, 17:36
Residents of the Lakeshore and Clermont Harbor communities met Tuesday evening to discuss the incorporation issue at a town hall meeting held in the garage of the Lakeshore Body Shop.
The meeting was run by Attorney Donald Rafferty who gave a presentation and answered questions from the crowd of about 150 residents.
Rafferty is a defense attorney and the city attorney for the city of Bay St. Louis. He has also represented the Paradise Property group which wants to develop high-rise condos in the Lakeshore area. He said Tuesday he has been working with a group of residents from the Lakeshore and Clermont area about the possibility of the two communities becoming one city.
"We are here to see if we have enough interest to form another city on the west end of Hancock County," he said. "So many people have wanted to get involved in this so far."
He explained that before the idea of becoming a city could even get off the ground a petition must be signed by at least two thirds of the registered voters of the area.
He said election rolls show there are about 1,400 voters in the Lakeshore, Clermont, and Ansley areas.Former Supervisor Jerry Ladner said about 500 signatures have been obtained so far, and he believes the two-thirds number can be reached.
"We have to find out where these people are," Ladner said. "Once we do that I think we can get the signatures. Me personally, I would like to leave everything the same, but we can't do that. If we do not do this, then Waveland will annex us."
Despite several attempts by Rafferty and Ladner to convince residents that an annexation from Waveland is imminent, some residents did not understand the reasons behind incorporation.
"Why do we need all this stuff," Wilbur Lafleur asked. "Are we not living the life we want? I ain't signing no petition."
Resident Russell Lafontaine responded by repeating the theme of the evening.
"If we do not form our own city, we are going to be a part of Waveland."
Rafferty said he has gotten assurances from Waveland officials that the city is not looking to take over the area; however, he said the city's actions point to a different story.
He said the new Silver Slipper Casino would be attractive to a city and he said Waveland has been putting gas and water lines in the Lakeshore and Clermont areas to provide utility services
."We need to ask ourselves now, do we want to be our own city or reach into our pockets to fight them (Waveland) or just let them take it?" he asked.
Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo said Wednesday his city is not looking at annexing the Lakeshore and Clermont areas right now, and that leaders of the area are using "scare tactics" to try to convince the residents to incorporate.
"We have never been invited to one of these meetings," Longo said. "We have not had the chance to respond. We just got a whole bunch of property. We want to help the people of Lakeshore and Clermont out, but we have our hands full right now." He said the decision to put gas and utility services in the area was on request of the casino and was a prudent decision.
"The casino is our first customer," he said. "We got our certification just prior to the storm. They are in bad shape in Clermont and Lakeshore and we are just trying to help them out."
Rafferty said the area would greatly benefit from being incorporated into a city.
He said the area would receive 18.5 percent of the sales tax generated in the area, would be eligible for tidelands and road grants, and residents would see a dramatic drop in fire insurance rates.
He said if the signatures were obtained then it may costs between $30,000 to $75,000 to fund the tasks of becoming a city.
"It is going to cost money to hire a planner, an expert witness, and cost costs," he said. "If you have to fight an annexation battle, it is going to cost a lot more."
He said the community could raise the necessary money through private and corporate donations, as well as possibly having fundraisers.
One citizen asked if the area would lose county services if it were to incorporate.
Rafferty said the county is still obligated to provide services if it is requested and he pointed to D'Iberville as an example of a city with county services.
"D'Iberville incorporated in 1988," he said. "Today it is a thriving city. They contract the police service to the sheriff's department."
Rafferty also said city's are given road and bridge money from the county, as well.
Labels: Article, claremont harbor, hancock county, katrina, ms
From the SeaCoast EchoHancock’s future looking brighter
By Bennie Shallbetter
Dec 1, 2006, 17:33Email this article Printer friendly page
Port and Harbor Commission director Hal Walters has a positive outlook for future economic growth at the port's two facilities, Stennis International Airport and Port Bienville. The two facilities suffered around $38 million in damages as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
The main thing holding up that growth now is the lack of available housing and the water and sewer services that go along with that growth, said Walters Monday."We have probably more economic development interest than before the storm-much more actually," said Walters. "But it is hard to attract business and industry without housing. When they come and look they don't see the housing, the churches. And we still only have one grocery store."
Of course, Walters says, he realizes that things are progressing and hopes that in the near future the county will have the infrastructures to attract some of the businesses that the commission sees as a future economic base for the county. That includes hoped for businesses at a planned 208 acre airport expansion just east of the south end of the runway. Walters hopes that air cargo, and maintenance businesses, as well as a limited airline service will help make the airport even busier.
For now, a maintenance business operates out of Hanger B, and Pegasus, a company that both manufactures and overhauls large aircraft, is moving into Hanger C. Pegasus will install a new generation of radar systems into Coast Guard C-130's at the airport. The company also supplies aircraft for Optech, another airport tenant.Another high tech company, Fugro Pelagos, has established a presence at the airport, Walters said. The company, which performs offshore surveying services using advanced technologies, has been involved both at the airport and Stennis Space Center for years, Walters said, but are recent tenants at Stennis Airport.Port Bienville has a major new tenant Solvay Advanced Polymers. The company bought out Mississippi Polymer last spring.
And with a channel dredged deeper than pre-storm conditions, 14 feet, Walters hopes for a business to replace shipper Linea Peninsular, a major tenant for over 20 years. The business left after Katrina.
There are no ships yet, but the port is being used, said Walters. Barge traffic brings in raw materials and supplies for Port businesses Wellman and G.E. Plastics, as well as coal for DuPont DeLisle and Calgon, and limestone for Vulcan Materials.
The Port rail line was up and running quickly after the storm, in November, Walters said, but no shipments could come or go until CSX was ready, with the first shipment leaving the Port in January.
© 2005 Bay St. Louis Newspapers, Inc.
Foreign journalists' jaws drop Devastation surprises them
By MICHAEL A. BELLmbell@sunherald.com
PASS CHRISTIAN - As a journalist for German television, Otto Deppe traversed the state in 1998, recording everything from blues to the sandy beaches while making a documentary. That was during a "boom time," he said, when construction along the Coast was thriving.
On Friday, the 69-year-old returned, but to a world of contrast. "All this is now different," he said, scanning empty lots filled with debris and FEMA trailers aligning East Second Street in the Pass. He likened the devastation to what he saw in Germany after World War II. But this, he said with a shrug, "was all done by a hurricane."
Deppe and 18 other foreign journalists from Austria, Germany, England, the Netherlands, Ireland, United Kingdom and Belgium toured the Pass with Rep. Diane Peranich, D-DeLisle, in an effort to show the world how Katrina also destroyed the Mississippi Coast, not just New Orleans.
Many people "didn't know there was a Mississippi story," said Steve Richer of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor's Bureau. He said the visitors would tour Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties during their four days here.
The 19 reporters and photographers are the biggest group of international journalists to come to the Coast since the storm hit, Richer said.
"Thank you for coming," Peranich said, hugging each visitor as they stepped off the bus, then escorting them toward Pass Christian library manager Sally James' FEMA trailer.
"All of this," Peranich said, gesturing with open arms, "was under water."
John Costello, a features writer for the Evening Herald in Ireland, said his jaw dropped when he saw the destruction.
"It's just hard to comprehend," he said. "I just can't imagine the pain and suffering (in) trying to live your everyday life."
One aspect that impressed him, however, was the residents' unity, spirit and how they are, simply, "real" people. Europeans, he said, often associate Americans as shallow, and having a "white teeth, big smile, 'Have a nice day'
Mississippians, he said, were different. "They pause to let a tear roll down" their cheek, Costello said.