Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kathleen Update

Race To The Cape Where the Oak Tree Should Stand.

Gulfport to Biloxi Yacht Race, Mississippi. 6/10/07
Kathleen Johnson

A thirty nine year tradition in these parts. Nine entries last year and thirteen this year. Despite the storm - progress. Although the finish port is not the same - this yacht club was close enough to Biloxi to be the "Cape".

It has been many a year since I was out racing - I am still a fish out of water in this game. I was a young teenager, in Western Australia, just out of high school when I started racing at home. Thought I knew it all then. Even a couple of rescues by the river police didn't daunt my
enthusiasm. At that time I was also racing Olympic kayaks and was in tip top shape. And here I am at 56 racing again - as a Volitourist.

As a region, the Gulf Coast is coming back from Katrina. I find myself not talking about the hardships down here - probably because I do not want to hear it again as it was painful enough the first, second, and third time. To relieve the pain they relay their hardship to recovery
over and over. And we listen trying to formulate a unique plan to their unique situation – not a socialized solution in a one size fits alls FEMA platform.

It's not all yacht clubs and limousines either (yes there was a limousine outside the yacht club picking up a patron from the race who didn't want to motor back the few miles to Gulfport). On the trip back from Biloxi to Gulfport on 90 - it's not hard to see the devastation as it's all gone excepting a couple of new Waffle Houses. They themselves are an enigma between the new grand land based casino at each end of the highway between Biloxi and Gulfport - both
business entities serve entirely two sets of demographics.

For me - it is an afternoon to escape from the misery I see and hear everyday in this recovery. It's not about recovery - but deferred maintenance on poverty. A far cry from the lifestyle out on the high seas on a sunny summer afternoon going from yacht club to yacht club.

This is not the chocolate city of New Orleans - not even close. In fact - I do not see any of my clients here sipping wine on the leeward side of the yacht club in the shade. What a shame that is - I miss their wonderful down to earth sense of humor and good manners. This is a far
different world than the world I work in every day - and that other world is just around the corner from here over the hill back a few miles from the sea. There they are just as proud, just as strong, just as determined to recover. It is just a different world with a different set
of tools to recover with. Not a lot of money - just resilience.

For an afternoon - the locals here on the beach relive their recent past as it was, as it will be again with hard work and perseverance. The new palms and newly planted oaks on 90 stand testament to optimism.

There will be recovery Gulf wide. Like in the classic novel, "Animal Farm", some will be more equal in the process than others. We still have far to go in this quest for equity. No one is planting new oak trees or palm trees in the Middletown of Waveland, Ms - even the local Martin Luther King Park has yet to acquire either. But the locals only talk about shortfalls in hushed whispers amongst themselves or are in denial that it is an issue at all - that way the problem will go away and all will be well in the world. Still there is a space where the Oak tree should stand.

Picture Slide Show

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

HC Long Term Recovery Org

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6/12 - Update from Kathleen

6/5 The first semi load of lumber has arrived. The pictures and the manifest is listed: http://www.wavelandcitizensfund.org/warehouse2.html
We are expecting the second semi load today.
Also, yesterday, the semi of water arrived.
Fax Orders: (228) 466-4638
The lumber pristine and we are moving it today to 700 Tabor, Waveland for pickup.Kathleen JohnsonDirector:
Katrina Reliefhttp://www.wavelandcitizensfund.org
(228) 466-4630

4/19 From Kathleen Johnson - Who Are The Victims of Katrina?

4/8 Here at Katrina Relief, the work continues in the aftermath of Katrina. We have so far to go in this county that it is estimated that rebuilding will take, approximately, 5 years at a minimum. We have barely started. We could use your help again this summer if you have the time to come down as an individual or as a group.

We have air conditioned housing and a displaced New Orleans Chef that we have adopted (for the very best selfish reasons) who is cooking for the volutneers. Check out the website for the details under "Housing" and, also, while you are there check in and see what we have been doing lately.

We encourage "VoliToursists" as there is much to do down here if you are interested in spending some vacation time here on the Gulf Coast.

If you are planning on doing some touristing while you are here - your housing arrangements with us will remain static while you are wandering around the area enjoying the vast beaches, boating, and day tours. I highly recommend you include a trip to the Fort at Ship island and the other civil war historical spots in the region.

Looking forward to hearing from you again.

Kathleen Johnson
Director: Katrina Relief
700 Tabor St., Waveland, Ms.
(228) 466-4630 (Office)

4/1 Its been a great week watching the latest Elkview home go up - its nowstanding ready for the shingles. Great progress: http://wavelandcitizensfund.org/ElkView.html
You can watch the progress at that link above - some great shots in there. This home we can black in for less than $10,000. 576 sf with all the comforts of home. For those with absolutely minimal resources - this home can be put up with easily available grant monies.
It has been another fabulous week at Katrina Relief with another mile of work orders - particularly in electrical and plumbing. Ohio Disaster Relief contributed to that as they loaned us a couple of electricians for a couple of days and we also had our own full time electricans and plumbers. We have two new house starts this week and another two next week. We are rolling along.
So, how is it going at your operation?
Kathleen Johnson

3/27 Scam
Dear Colleagues and Organization Representatives, Please forward this to all of your contacts! I have sent this to the entire list serves(I have) for STEPS and Rebuild Jackson County.
A member of the ECD/HOPE staff was alerted today of a potential scam taking place. A group is calling and emailing folks (especially senior citizens) claiming to be MDA. They have a logo,etc that appears to be official. They tell applicants that certain information is needed to complete the application for Phase I or Phase II grants and then they get the applicant’s personal information.
Please let people know that MDA/Reznick has a policy where they never ask for personal info over the phone or via email.
If people are solicited, it is NOT an authorized contact. If more details emerge, we will keep you posted.

Christy M. Hahn 228-466-8267
Executive Director
Hancock County Long Term Recovery Committee
5380 Kiln Delisle Rd.
Kiln, MS 39556

Thursday March 1st

Wow, another month - hard to believe. And still 29,000 thousand people in FEMA trailers in Mississippi. We, here at Katrina Relief, are knocking out, upto 3, houses per week here. And that is a very good statistic.

We have about 950 clients total and we have till August, according to FEMA, to find all these people permanent housing. Our full time camps are all going home for the summer on April 1st - they have to go to plant their crops. Thats about 175 full time volunteers per day - thats
a critical loss of labor.

Our summer bookings are pretty solid - but the percentage of skilled labor to non skilled labor is low. Here, at this camp, we ask that there be a skilled volunteer per 8 members of the volunteer group and that the skilled person be capable of leading those 8 in the field. This will allow us to continue the work - but production will be at a slower pace.

Given this is the pattern across the region - for the life of me I can not see how we will ever be able to make the deadline in August. It is completely unrealistic. My clients are in panic mode and some of their Case Managers are already making threats. One today, with a FEMA witness
present, was threatened by her FEMA housing Case Manager, that she had to find housing by April or they were coming to get the trailer. The FEMA contractor was appalled by this and came into the office to get help for this client.

What am I supposed to do for all these "renters"? There has been no funds allotted by any entity to deal with "renters"? One of mine has already committed suicide - she shot herself with a shotgun out of desperation to the situation. I have the letter she wrote to me prior to that - I have read it often since that time. I think I am going to publish the letter, without the name, as it so clearly outlines the desperation of the renter situation.

On a good note. We just had the most unbelievable team of forty 11th graders from California Jewish Highschool. They gave up their class trip and came here to work for two days. And what a fabulous two days it was. We plowed thru some work - many hands make light work. Marvin, over in Shoreline, is still in awe as to what they were able to accomplish on his property. He called when he got home to ask me what army I had brought over there to clean up his property. He was so stunned by the work he was just "stunned" even on the phone. He was so absolutely thrilled. I had only told him I was going to paint - the fact that we stepped up and cleaned all that "debris" was a complete surprise to him.

Marvin never was the best housekeeper and was a self admitted "packrat - but the storm made even a greater havoc of that state of affairs. Prior we had made inroads to the problem - but this time we picked up the ball and just cleaned up everything and everything and Marvin finally said "goodbye" to that "stuff". He said it was about time he let it all go to the curb - he said he was calling the trash people themselves so he could make sure it left. That was even a surprise to me - and, finally, after eighteen months, we got thru to Marvin and he is off to a new
start in life. These highschoolers really have no idea exactly just how much "success" they had at this work order.

This 11th grade team were incredible - I am in awe of what they stepped up to do. They even fixed my fence around the property here. Yes, I bring home a stray dog or two, medically treat, and then send off to a better home. We never had a "complete" fence before as the storm had
played havoc with it. It wasnt that we could not do it ourselves - we, as a team, always just took care of everyone else first. But now it stands tall due to these kids. Many hands make light work.

They cleaned eaves, listened to residents, moved mountains of dirt, painted, put on siding, hauled trash, sorted paint, and most selfish of all on my part - they lifted my spirits high to the point of souring. I was much in need of revitalization and they did this for me. I can never
thank them enough.

As for the supervision - this troup of 40 was the epitome of how supervision and organization makes the world of difference for juvenile team and allows them to be the awsome success story they were.

And, as a footnote - they brought a very generous donation that is going to make huge in-roads to the recovery effort here. It has already purchased a special vaccuum for when you are sanding sheetrock so the dust is contained as the sanding process proceeds. It protects the
workers - a huge safety issue for us here.

Some of the troup expressed a desire to return - Lord I hope that comes to fruition. We are in such desperate need for volunteers with their spirit here - the "Can Do Attitude of the Little Train". Many expressed a desire to become Virtual Voluntees - calling a list of residents on a
weekly basis to a)Find out how they are b)Ask what they need c)Ask if they are in a church community and if they would like to to back to their church community. This last question is so important as the church community can provide so much support including assistance in the form of "barn building".

And the bookings continue for the summer - as well as the announcement from one of my full time teams that they may stay for an extra month into the summer - I am so hopeful that that will happen.

We have a team here from Alaska right now. Have a team coming in from Canada. From far and wide they come. A forty foot motor home in one spot in front of the warehouse and a 26 foot trailer in front of the house. Its a busy camp.

Myself - I am so exhausted. And I can see this is going to be a very long, long summer.

So, how was your day?

This has been a fabulous week at Katrina Relief. A mile of work orders accomplished, four new houses with grants in the works, a grant for a pastor, and another refurbish job funded.

The fence is almost up around Herlihy Park too. The contractor has been working hard over there and it looks great!

And, we are well on the way to starting the rebuilding of St. Rock Methodist Church - Yeah!!!!!!!!! We had a construction meeting here last night on the church - we should be starting on that foundation within the next two weeks. Everything else has been organized including a
construction coordinator. I am so impressed with the teamwork of this small church. Once built though - we are going to need your help to finish up the inside. The building plan right now is a 40 x 50 metal building (already ordered) that will be used for a community center after they build an addition, down the road, for the much needed larger church. But for right now - this will be the "church".

I have two other churchs' I am working on. Both in the poorer parts of the county, both Baptist, and neither has a sponsor yet. But we are moving forward on both of them. If you are interested - please contact us. They will need materials and volutneers. Most important - they will need a sponsoring partner church.

We have electricians and plumbers here from Washington this week and we have a long term tape and texture man arriving today - he will be here three months.

We handed out 35 work orders this week - one nail at a time, one family at a time. Every little bit moves us that few inches closer.

A good local friend confided in me yesterday that his wife has been diagnosed with cancer. This person has been a staunch supporter and true leader in the community. I cried when he told me. I still am brought to tears by this. I am so frustrated, at times, here of the one step
forward and two steps backward. I probably need a break from all of this. But no one on the horizon who can step in to take over this office for a week or two. I keep thinking God will provide. And he does. But not a long term construction coordinator.
All I want for Christmas is a long term volunteer construction coordinator. Surely, out there, is someone who is retired who could come down for three months or more for some good spam sandwich, fried spam, baked spam, diced spam and beans, spam and eggs, spam and....... *G*

Today the full time volunteers have a "paid" job working on a contractors trailer here. Not sure, exactly, what it is that they will be doing. But I see the trailer being backed in here right now. I see it does not have a deck on it - so I presume they will be decking the trailer for him. That should fiscally help the full time volunteers here. Spending money for Saturday night. *G*

Its Mardi Gras here on Sunday - this should be interesting. I know there is a team, close by, that has been working on floats for months and months. I still do not understand the Mardi Gras concept at all. Has to be a purpose - but I still fail to understand it all. Excepting it seems
to be a time for everyone just to party for the fun of it. Of course I look at it from the narrow perspective of all that money that is being spent on floats could be spent on sheetrock, nails, screws, shingles etc. etc. Hmmm.........

And that was our week - how was yours?

Good Morning:Katrina Relief and the Waveland Citizens Fund is pleased to announcethat we have moved our office to a new location at 709 Central Ave., BaySt. Louis.This new location avails us of a suite of offices plus 225,000 sf ofwarehouse space, half a dozen unloading docks for semis trailers,Volunteer housing, along with a central easily accessible location witha myriad of parking.We have $100,000 of donated lumber on its way into the warehouse. Please stop by and visit us soon.
Kathleen Johnson Director Katrina Relief/Board Member
Waveland Citizens Fund
709 Central Ave.,
Bay St. Louis Office (228) 466-4630 /

Excerpt - When Waveland Volunteer Center coordinator Kathleen Johnson first heard about stick-built homes that could be assembled, delivered and set up on a site in a matter of days, she was excited, she said. Her job is to get people back in their homes and the shortage of skilled volunteers was hindering that process. She figured a home set up ready for the finishing touches was the answer to her problems. Less skilled volunteers could finish off drywall, paint, and install flooring and bathroom facilities, once the initial wiring and plumbing were installed at the factory. It could speed up the process of getting people into a home in weeks instead of months

12/1 - Lumbar is here!

11/23 From Kathleen - Lumber Enroute
Lumber is on the way from Texas destined to arrive on the 28th ofNovember in Waveland. Any interested DRO's are invited to inspect thisfirst load of many sent to us via the Citizens Action Team!

11/17 From Kathleen
Hancock Long Term Recovery still has not received the promisedfunds from the Governor's special fund. No explanation from theGovernor's office

11/7 Update from Kathleen Johnson - head
I have a new line at the office:(228) 466-4630 (Office) along with fax, answering machine and hopefully a new assistant that is to be hired today and another one planned. Things are looking up. Thank you Tommy Longo for the phone line!
Well, the semi had a tire blow out - so the furniture from Gulfport is still in storage and can not be picked up again for 2 weeks. But, the semi is booked again and we will try again.
The two forklifts in Ohio will be picked up this week. One is going on loan to Miss Bonnie as hers is on the blitz - the second to our warehouse on Tabor. The second one will go to the warehouse on 90 when Bonne gets done with it.
The pace continues at the office and volunteer bookings are way up - not sure why. But we seem to be doing very well with volunteers - although no where near the pace it was months ago. I did come up with a HVAC person and a local electrician for volunteering (although the electrician is out with health issue this week).
I need two garage doors - large ones. Anyone know of one that is "sitting and not being used"? I have a very large load of supplies coming in Friday from Florida. I will get the manifest out as soon as I get my hands on it.
Laurie: I have "stuff" in the warehouse for you including babyfood. When you come down remind me to load up your van.
I have some laptops coming in. Call me if you can justify the use of one in the reconstruction effort or case management.
Have plenty of good monitors in storage also available to those from DRO's.
The wireless modems still not here - will call them today and see what the holdup is.
We are still working on housing for volunteers. We have been offered a great solution of "ready built" housing in the form of former employee housing in hotel format at a very large local manufacturing plant about a mile from the office.
Working on getting grant to pay the electric bills.

The Hancock County Long Term Recovery Committee Unmet Needs Committee meets every Monday at 1pm at the Episcopal Church in Bay St Louis.
Hancock County LTRC Volunteer Coordination Meeting
Meets every Tuesday 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: Mockingbird Cafe, Bay St Louis

Also - A Cross Posting of information:

10/10 From Gary - I don't know if these two projects/orgs are related, but it looked right...

Learn to restore damaged items

The next public workshop of the Gulf Coast Recovery Project will focus on the treatment of glass, metal, ceramic and archaeological objects.
A team drawn from the nation's most prestigious conservation programs will teach participants to safely handle, assess and clean damaged objects.
The free, public workshop will be held at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library on Saturday from 1:30-4 p.m.
A final workshop will focus on furniture and wooden objects, Nov. 18 at the Historic Natchez Foundation Building in Natchez.


Join in the Long-Term Recovery efforts for Hancock County!
Volunteer to answer phones. Get trained to serve as a Caseworker or Case Manager.
Coordinate Work crews.
Assist with Psycho-social and spiritual re-building of the area.
Write grants or work in fund-raising.
Serve on the “Unmet Needs” Committee to distribute monies to those in need of financial assistance.
Or just come and get an idea of who is here and what various organizations are doing to support Relief, Recovery and Rebuilding processes in Hancock County.
The HLTRO meets at Christ Church every other Thursday.
The last meeting was May 25th.
Committee meetings begin at 3pm and the general meeting at 4pm. Come and play a part in recovering and rebuilding our communities!!

Christ Episcopal Church
P.O. Box 2189
Bay St. Louis, MS 39521-2189

(found on the church's website) Church was completely destroyed - it is a slab. And they are thinking about the county rather than the building. Pretty incredible!

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