Katrina Networking

I am using my networking and marketing skills to pass along vital information to organizations, volunteers and survivors of the 2005 hurricane season. Grants, networking, advocating, assistance resources, articles and more. Updated regularly to better assist you.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fed Trick - Grant $ For SBA Loan

Some may be forced to use grant money to repay loans
By Bill Walsh
Washington bureau
WASHINGTON - Linda Ireland figured that whatever money she got from Louisiana's long-awaited Road Home disaster grant program could be used to rebuild her flooded-out New Orleans house.
Ireland was stunned to discover recently that a big chunk of her Road Home grant could very well be taking a road straight back to Washington, D.C.
By law, disaster victims are prohibited from receiving multiple sources of financial aid for the same purpose. So Ireland's rebuilding grant - along with those of untold numbers of other flood victims in Louisiana and Mississippi - may have to be used to pay off all or a portion of her disaster loan from the Small Business Administration.
The requirement, which has caught some homeowners by surprise, is being challenged by the Louisiana Recovery Authority. In the meantime, however, it has sent homeowners such as Ireland racing back to their calculators to see if they will have enough to rebuild.
"I was like filling up a bucket with insurance money I had left, my SBA loan and my Road Home grant. I needed all of that money," said Ireland, whose Broadmoor home was a total loss when the levees broke last year. "If Road Home goes to the SBA to pay off my loan, that's nice. But then I don't have enough to rebuild."
To help Gulf Coast homeowners recover from the costliest disaster in American history, the federal government has made two major sources of financing available. Through the Small Business Administration, 94,437 low-interest disaster loans have been approved in Louisiana totaling $6.7 billion. Over the past year, Congress also approved $12 billion in block grant money, the bulk of which was earmarked for Louisiana's Road Home program to compensate homeowners.
According to the SBA, to allow disaster victims to use both sources of financing to rebuild the same house could very well violate federal laws that prohibit "duplication of benefits." "They would have a subsidized loan and a grant," said Herb Mitchell, director of SBA's disaster loan program. "They would be overcompensated."
Mitchell said Road Home grants don't always have to be used to pay back SBA loans. He said the key element is the value of the loss.
For example, he said, if a house received $350,000 in uninsured damage and a homeowner received a $100,000 SBA loan and a $100,000 Road Home grant, the grant would not have to be used to pay down the loan because the borrower would still have $150,000 in uncompensated losses. I
f, however, the damage was $200,000, the SBA loan was $150,000 and the Road Home grant was $100,000, $50,000 of the grant would have to be used to pay down the loan.
Loans given out for other purposes, such as covering the contents of a flooded house, would not have to be paid back with a grant designed for rebuilding. Also, only that portion of an SBA loan that has been disbursed needs to be paid back.
The SBA said that all of the details were spelled out in a memorandum of understanding signed between the agency and the State of Louisiana.
However, Andy Kopplin, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, said he sees some flexibility.
Kopplin said that because an SBA loans has to be repaid and a Road Home grant doesn't, they should not be considered duplicative under the law. He said the LRA has been urging the SBA for months to change its interpretation.
"This is not a state decision. This is an SBA decision about what they require under the rules," Kopplin said. "Our grants are capped at $150,000 and in some cases that will not cover all of the costs that the homeowners may face."
Kopplin said that the only portion of the SBA loan that should have to be covered by grant money is the benefit from the reduced interest rate. At 2.67 percent, the SBA loans are far below what homeowners could get privately.
"To the extent that the interest rate subsidy is a duplication of benefits, the loan could be reduced," Kopplin said.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., added her voice to the dispute this week with a letter to SBA Administrator Steven Preston seeking clarification of the agency's position. She said that the restriction could slow down the progress of the recovery in Louisiana and an aide said legislation to change the federal rules could be offered.
"These homeowners are extremely concerned that federal regulations are impeding their return to their communities," Landrieu said in the letter.
For homeowners still trying to chart their plans more than a year after Katrina hit, the dust-up has added just one more layer of uncertainty.
Ireland has received damage estimates on her Broadmoor home ranging from $80,000 to $300,000. She has been approved for a $120,000 SBA loan. Now, she is waiting to see how much she will get through the Road Home program to figure out how she will finance her rebuilding.
"I don't want to double dip, but the emphasis right along has been in filling the gap and making people whole," Ireland said.
When asked how she will come up with the balance of the money if she falls short, she said, "Maybe I can borrow from the credit union or family members if I need more. It's been so sketchy about what will happen."
Bill Walsh can be reached at bill.walsh@newhouse.com

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Our Need For Marketing

I had the following sent to me last night regarding 2 organizations I know are active. I sent this person the links to gather information to give to a large organization looking to donate.

Leslie, I took a look at those two Hands and Citizen Action Team and while it is wonderful that they still have the websites up and running they have not updated them since January of this year. There is a lot of progress that has been made since then but there is still a huge amount of things that I could not even begin to list. I have noticed that with a lot of the websites that they have not been recently updated. Perhaps the 6 months of Katrina was enough and they have assumed the worst is over and the rest will take care of itself eventually. I happen to think that this snowball effect has only come to light. The first 6 months everyone was still in a survival mode. And if I may gently remind it took us almost a full year to remove the debris and clean the roads. Now is the time to help...because finally you can come to the area without worrying about how you will travel the roads.

I sent this note to everyone I thought was a leader of a volunteer organization. Most replies were positive, but weak. A few were argumentative. That's fine. I'll take it point for point and not mind at all. This is far too important to let go to waste.

First - I went through the thesaurus looking for words other than marketing. It seems people are having a hard time with "marketing". Well, to me, it sounds better than "advertising", but maybe I'm a distinct minority in that regard. "Advertise" took me to "Announce". Here are those results:

Main Entry: announce
Function: verb
Text: to make known openly or publicly
Synonyms: advertise, blaze, broadcast, declare, enunciate, placard, post, proclaim, promulgate, publicize, publish, sound
Related words: advise, apprise, inform, notify; communicate, impart, intimate; disclose, divulge, report, reveal; disseminate, spread
Near Antonyms: conceal, hush (up), silence, suppress, withhold; recall, recant, retract, revoke

If you are not actively working the synonyms or related words, you are actively working the near antonyms. Do you really want to conceal, suppress or withhold your work from getting the attention it needs to continue?

"...dedicated people who have spent thousands of their own money (unpaid--no salaries here), spent 40-60-80 hours weekly working on relief efforts, missed time with their families, worked through hospitalizations, given up paying jobs to the dismay of their families, and basically have devoted their lives to this effort. So it is not a conscious effort to ignore or overlook updates, it is just a matter of no time and/or resources."

So all of you, who have put your heart and soul into this work, are willing to let it languish, suffer and die, than dedicate even just 2 hours per MONTH to keeping just one part of your website updated?? You would rather see all of these thousands of dollars spent, all of this sacrifice, go extinguished from not putting any emphasis on letting people know you're here?

Tomorrow, I'm going to add more to this - a suggested series of SOLUTIONS, as I have written in the past, but have more to add - in hopes that even just a few of you take them. As one person who wished to argue this point stated We need people to identify problems and then offer to find and implement solutions. I have been. And I will continue. Because this is so important for the survival of the groups and of the recovery process that I won't stop.

Times seem to be lean again with needing funding, volunteers, materials, (L)INK. Without (L)INK, we don't get those funds, volunteers or materials.

So, I found the following, will add a little different wording to help show how this information applies to all of our organizations and possible solutions to the issues. All of the following was presented by Entrepreneur.com.

So what do you have to do to get quality links that will actually count for something with the search engines? Here's Google's answer to the question:
“Make sure all the sites that should know about your pages are aware your site is online.” (Get more tips from Google here.)
1. Search for organizations that are already established within your industry. Most have a directory that lists companies like yours (you’ll probably see some of your top-ranking competitors already listed there!).
2. Scour your competitors’ sites and see if they're affiliated with any associations you should be connected with but aren't yet.
3. Commit to writing an article (or having one written) at least once a month. Then:
Upload it to your site.
Get it crawled by adding it to your Google and Yahoo! sitemaps.
Make a blog post about it, and link to it. (Waddaya mean you don’t have a blog yet?!)
A few weeks after the article's lived on your site and has been cached, submit it to some of the organizations you contacted earlier. In the “About the author” section, or biography, at the end of the article, add the link to that specific article on your site and on your blog.
This will help establish your business as the authoritative source of the article. It will also build link popularity to that specific page and allow readers to post comments about it on your blog. If you have a forum on your site, mention it there, too, and point users to it with a link.
It wouldn’t hurt to issue a press release about the article you wrote either. Make sure you link to the exact page where your article resides on your site as well as to your home page.

Essential Element #1: An Attention-Grabbing Headline. The first thing people see when they visit your site should be a compelling headline that describes the most important benefit your product or service offers. The headline is the key element of your site. It's what will persuade visitors to stick around and check out what you have to offer.
Most of us have this, but not all. Basically, you need to tell people the W/W/W/W/H - who what when where how of your organization in 1 sentance that usually shows up in the text of the search engines.

Essential Element #2: User-Friendly Navigation. Nothing will drive customers away faster than confusing or complicated navigation! Your customers should be able to know where they are on your site at all times, and should easily be able to find pages they've already visited.
When you look at "professional sites", they have a "back to home" button, or "back to previous page" button and a great index on the side bar to navigate between specific groups of information.

#3 Your salescopy should:
Immediately draw the reader in with exciting benefits and enticing copy so you can lead them toward the sale.
Establish your credibility--nobody will buy from you if they don't feel they can trust you.
Describe the benefits of your product or service and explain why your visitors need it.
Salescopy is basically the extended version of your Headline. But - it needs to be very brief. People don't really care who was sitting next to you on the plane when you had the epiphany of a lifetime. You started the organization when and why and what you've done since then.

Essential Element #4: A Clear "Call to Action." If you want people to buy your products or services, you have to tell them how to do it. Don't leave them guessing. You have to explain exactly what you want them to do, and you have to make it easy for them to do it.

Essential Element #5: Well-Chosen Images. Images can really help people visualize your products or services and their benefits. Be sure to include photos of every product you sell. Attractive product shots can really boost your sales.
Pictures really ARE worth a 1000 words. Logos are great, faces are better. Scenes are best.

#6 Strong Opt In Offer
In order to pursue a relationship with these potential customers, you should collect their e-mail addresses by encouraging them to subscribe to a free newsletter or a free download. This will give you the chance to send them updates and information, develop relationships with them, and enable them to trust you enough to buy from you.

Do you have enough bandwidth to put a short video on? Do you have a way of collecting email addresses in order to send out occasional updates? This will keep people interested in what you do, even if you have little access to update your website. This is also where the blog comes into play - you can set the blog up and people can look to that for the updates - which you can steer them toward in an email notice, or just hope they keep coming back to it. The main thing is to send out regular updates - blog, website or email.

Essential Element #7: Testimonials. The best way to establish credibility is to provide evidence that your product or service really works. And the best way to do that is to include testimonials from satisfied customers that explain how your product or service has helped improve their lives.
We are all working with individuals during the recovery process. And while it's hard to remain humbly in your service while posting people singing your praises, it has to be done. It shows you ARE actually doing the work you claim to be doing. This is as much about assuring people you are real and not a huckster as it is keeping people interesting in the recovery effort.

Essential Element #8: An "About Us" page. People are often hesitant to buy things online because they miss the personal interaction of doing business face to face. The best way to overcome their reluctance is to include an "About Us" page that provides information about you, your staff and your business. Be sure to include pictures of yourself and your staff members. This shows your customers they're doing business with real people and will help ease any worries they might have.
This is where you can talk about where the epiphany occured and who was sitting next to you babbling about the weather. It's always difficult to say what readers will like it and what readers will be bored by it. But, the key is, the ones who are bored by it can steer away - they have read enough to figure out who you are and those who ARE interested will read every word on your site.

Essential Element #9: An FAQ Page. It's a good idea to include a "Frequently Asked Questions" page on your site. This is where you'll list the questions most commonly asked by your customers and provide answers to them. It allows your visitors immediate access to the answers they need before they'll consider buying your product or service.
Think of this as "whole part whole" teaching. Each page has part of what you are telling everyone. The FAQ page goes through and answers the basic question of each page. You break down each topic that was covered indepth on the pages into a synopsis paragraph. If possible, link the answer back to the original page so the person can see the detailed answer.

Essential Element #10: Your Contact Info. In order to close sales and establish your credibility, you have to provide full contact information on your site. This includes your mailing address as well as fax and phone numbers. Businesses that only post e-mail addresses on their sites come across as unprofessional and possibly even disreputable.
This part can be difficult for many of us. Like me, we are an information clearing house only and have no reason to post more than our email contact. But those of us who are actively travelling to and from the Gulf, or are actively trying to raise money/materials/volunteers MUST have their contact information in as many places as possible. My pet peeve is that many sites - and I'm not saying just within the relief circle - don't have their contact information in an easily accessible place. I would strongly suggest that you place your information at the bottom of every page - similar to a footer - Organization name, mailing address, phone number and email address. This makes life SO much easier for people to contact you - and they will far more if they don't have to search out your contact information.

What I'm proposing is that we all put links of each other's sites on our own. This shows solidarity for Hancock County as well as the recovery effort in general. Plus, it gives us all at least 40 other sites our link can be found on, making our information for more likely to show up in the first to pages of a web search.

With me having so many separate blogs (sites), this will give all of you several more links than just through an individual organization would. I'll post the HTML for how blogger does it in hopes of it working on other sites, cutting down on the work you'll have for placing the information on your sidebar.

If you do not see your site on my side bar and would like to be included, please contact me at KatrinaCoalition @ aol.com. All I ask is that you include my sites as well.

MS Volunteer Appreciation Day

Posted by: "AmeriCorps NCCC"
Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:48 pm (PST)
Hello everyone,
Joe wanted me to pass this info along to everyone. Thought it would be great for all of us who can attend to be there and support all of the volunteers in the area. Pass this along to anyone you know who might want to attend! Take care and have a great day!
Jessica Watton - Hancock County LTRC

Hey Joe! It's Deanna - our 2nd Volunteer Appreciation Day will be held at the Dedeaux Retreat House ( where we house our volunteers ) in PassChristian on Friday Oct 27th. We will get started around 3:00 pm. We will have lots of country cooking including red beans and rice, fried pork chops, sweet potatoes and corn on the cob, fried shrimp and lots more. Please encourage your volunteers to bring a baseball glove if they can find one. We have a ball field at the house. We will most likely set up to eat and playball outside and then move inside around 6:00-6:30 for some 'reflection' and words of thanks to our volunteers.
Give me an idea of how many volunteers you think might show up by Wednesday so I can give my cook a' heads up'
MY PHONE #228-234-3901
14595 Vidalia Rd
Pass Christian, MS 39571

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Not For Profit Grant

Gulf Coast Transformation Fellowship
New Voices, founded in 1999, aims to develop a new generation of diverse and progressive leaders dedicated to advancing social, economic, and political justice in our world. Our participants' approaches to driving change include policy advocacy, media, litigation, community organizing, coalition or network building, popular education, and leadership development. The program also aims to build the human resource capacity of small nonprofits necessary to achieving their missions.
During the next three grant cycles, the program will focus on addressing needs, solving problems, and defending human rights related to the impact on the Gulf Coast of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Our main objectives are:
To diversify the voices heard in the debate about regional recovery and transformation -- with a strong interest in supporting Fellows who are women, people of color, LGBTQ, disabled, who live in the Gulf Coast region or who are displaced from the region, of low income background and/or who will bring compelling perspectives or life experience to the fellowship (e.g., displaced residents).
To address longstanding inequities in the region based on race and class, by empowering stakeholders to participate fully in transforming the region.
To hold government agencies and officials accountable for meeting the needs and respecting the rights of those affected by hurricanes in the Gulf Coast.
To fund innovative and impactful programs with work grounded in six sponsored fields -- human rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights, reproductive rights, racial justice, and HIV/AIDS.
To build needed institutional and individual leadership in the Gulf Coast regionthrough leadership training, technical assistance, and membership in a nationwide community of activists.

Grantees will be headquartered in one of the three states in the Gulf Coast region hardest hit by hurricane Katrina -- Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Organizations based in three cities with the largest numbers of displaced residents -- Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston -- are also eligible to apply. Finally, hurricane-affected organizations along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Florida may apply.
The Gulf Coast region and communities affected by Hurricane Katrina and Rita deserve continued financial and moral support. Many needs remain unmet, many problems unresolved. Human rights are not as respected as they ought to be.

A concentration of New Voices grant awards in the Gulf Coast region would
1) create opportunities for talented emerging leaders to speak out on behalf of disadvantaged or marginalized communities,
2) build the capacity of small nonprofit organizations struggling with startup or survival, and
3) support timely social justice projects or initiatives in the region.

Fellowship grant benefits include :
For the grantee organization:
• Salary support & fringe benefits to host a Fellow for two years*
• Computer for the Fellow’s use
• Training for the Fellow’s mentor
• Networking opportunities

For the Fellow:
• Meaningful and rewarding social justice work
• Leadership training
• Mentoring
• Up to $1,500 per year for professional development activities
• Up to $6,000 per year for student loan repayment or up to $4,000 per year to cover other approved costs**
• Online curriculum and peer support
• Mental health support
• Networking opportunities

*New Voices covers 100% of the Fellow’s salary and fringe benefits in Year One, 75% of salary and 75% of fringe benefits in Year Two. The organization must cover 25% of salary and 25% of fringe benefits in Year Two.
**The Fellow must apply for financial assistance. All expenses must fall within program guidelines and be approved by AED.

Organizations that conduct policy research and analysis, policy advocacy, litigation, community organizing, popular education, leadership development, and demonstration projects with a systems change approach and an evaluation component are eligible. Organizations that propose to provide only direct services to individuals are not eligible.

Letters of Intent (LOI)(optional)
A letter of intent may be submitted to gain preliminary feedback from an AED staff member prior to moving forward with a complete application. The optional letter is due December 4, 2006 and should include:
1) the organization’s mission
2) the proposed project
- target population
- needs to be addressed or problems to be solved or rights to be defended
- project objectives and activities
3) proposed fellow and her/his qualifications (if the fellow is already identified)
4 ) program area applying under (human rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights, reproductive rights, racial justice, HIV/AIDS)
5 ) organization contact person and information (preferably including an email address)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Avoiding Infectious Diseases

Please make plans to simply promote Handwashing during National Clean Hands Week September 16-22, with the CDC, USDA, FDA, Clean Hands Coalition, and the Henry the Hand Foundation! (poster at bottom of this page)

Hand Awareness will set you free from the fear of infectious disease. The POWER is in your own HANDS! You have the TOOLS to protect yourself from Flu, flu-like, avian flu and virtually any other infectious disease spread by HANDS. Science is very clear on this subject that Direct Inoculation of your mucous membrane by your hand is the method of transmission. Amazing, but true! Imagine NEVER again having a “cold”, URI, Flu or other respiratory illness the rest of your life! Imagine never feeling sick like that again. Imagine how WELL you will feel!

Hand Awareness began to emerge in 1864 by Ignaz Semmelweis MD in Austria and 1865 by John Snow MD in London. When you read their stories you will understand the resistance systems put up to protect the status quo in spite of evidence. Hand Awareness faces the same resistance as it empowers the individual not to be afraid any longer of infectious disease, but to feel safe with the TOOLS to protect themselves’. “Simple solution for complex problems”.

So what is “Hand Awareness”? Simply, knowing where your hands are and what they are doing at all times. There are 4 Principles of Hand Awareness that are infection prevention focused that help educate and empower people to be more confident against the fear of infectious disease. The 4 Principles have been endorsed by the AMA and the AAFP and are individually referenced by CDC and Prevention.

Seems like a simple and logical approach to Infection Prevention. However, it is a daunting task due to break through the defense mechanism of both individuals and systems, just ask Dr. Semmelweis and Dr. Snow about their experience. One method to “break down” defenses are through “Edu-tainment”. This is why we have identified Henry the Hand Champion Handwasher as our messenger. He ‘speaks’ multiple languages by his mere image as a Hand.

We are relying on each of you to lend a Hand in your area of expertise: Patient Safety, Infection Control, Food Safety, School Health, Employee Health, personal health, Global Health and Pandemic Prevention. We are asking that you download posters and coloring book to give away to begin to change people’s behavior: Principles 1 and 4 protect our individual health and Principles 1, 2 &3 protect the Publics Health.

90,000 patients die each year from Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI),
2,000,000 HAI occur each year,
36,000 people die from pneumonia due to flu and flu-like illness annually,
5,000 people die from food borne illness annually,
300,000 + hospitalizations due to food borne illness,
76,000,000 cases of food borne illness annually
33,000,000 hospital admissions annually,
22,000,000 school days are lost due to the common cold,
52,000,000 cases of the common cold affect Americans under the age of 17 annually,
33,000,000 hospital admissions annually
800 million patient visits to physicians annually,
Thank you, Dr.Will Sawyer

This particular post is being written several weeks early due to current reports of over 100 flu cases in the Gulf region. This is both extremely early and alarming.
Being infected with influenza can progress to bronchitis and pneumonia, requiring hospitalization and easily resulting in death.
There is also a dramatic increase in Staph infections in both volunteers and residents. The infections are getting into the blood (sepsis) quickly and aggressively, requiring hospitalization and reportedly resulting in some deaths.
A long standing difficulty in volunteer camps has been gastroenteritis of unknown etiology (Great term!) - AKA "The Runs", "Death Warmed Over".
The best way to avoid transmission is to not get sick. If you are sick prior to leaving on your trip - be sure to be without symptoms for 3 days prior to leaving or stay home. You will do far more harm than good if you go while you're contagious. No one wants to be Typhoid Mary.

Fortunately, avoiding these infections is both low tech and easy.

The Flu
1 - Get a Flu Shot
1A - Get a Pneumonia Shot
Require proof of these shots for any volunteers entering your camps. It's harder to spread it if you don't catch it.

The Flu and Stomach Bugs
2 - Cleaning - Clean all common surfaces at least once a day with a 10% bleach solution (1 cup bleach, 9 cups water). Wipe down all hard surfaces including door knobs, telephones, tables, chairs, food prep areas.
Consider cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms more often. Leave a spray bottle of the bleach solution for others to clean as they go for additional safety.

The Flu, Stomach Bugs and Staph
3 - Handwashing - THE definitive way to stop transmission.
Before entering communal areas (sleeping, dining), all persons are strongly urged to wash their hands with soap and water (amazing how most people don't think these 2 items go together) for up to 2 minutes. In hospitals, it is customary to wash your hands twice - each time for 2 minutes. (from Dane) - Since the socially acceptable time is 20 seconds, singing the Happy Birthday song twice is about 30 seconds. A Very Easy way to time yourself!
Wash under fingernails and around jewelry. Jewelry LOVES germs. Consider washing your face as well - this will reduce the chances of YOU getting infected.
Use a papertowel to dry your hands, turn the water off, and to open the door. Discard the papertowel after you leave the washing area. Have a waste basket outside the door for papertowels.
(from Dane) - The first thing learned in nursing school - turn the faucet off with a papertowel. What turns the water on but germy hands?
3A - Waterless Handcleaner. Make this available in all communal areas and at worksites. Food handlers and administrative workers should wash hands 3 times daily and use the waterless handcleaner frequently (3 times a day).

4 - Isolation. If anyone shows signs of illness, they must be isolated from the group, using separate eating, bathing and bathroom facilities if possible. If it isn't possible, keep a spray bottle of the bleach solution in all areas for more frequent cleaning of contaminated areas.

If you have a scratch or cut, clean it as soon as possible. Follow washing it with an antibiotic ointment and bandage. Repeat this 3 times a day or if it becomes dirty.
Monitor for Infection. If there is a clear or milky liquid oozing out, bright red skin around it, bright red streaks going from the injury toward the heart, or if it is very warm and very tender to the touch, seek out medical attention immediately. Sepsis can set in quickly with the following symptoms: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/sepsis_blood_infection/page3_em.htm
If you have sepsis, often you will have fever. Sometimes, though, the body temperature may be normal or even low.
You may also have chills and severe shaking.
Your heart may be beating very fast and your breathing rapid.
Confusion, disorientation, and agitation may be seen as well as dizziness and decreased urination.
Some people who have sepsis develop a rash on their skin. The rash may be a reddish discoloration or small dark red dots throughout the body.
You may also develop pain in the joints at your wrists, elbows, back, hips, knees, and ankles.

The following is the best poster I found to place in all areas with sinks. I sized it so it can be printed on a standard sheet of paper. The link for other posters is hyperlinked in the blog title of this post.

3/23 A Note from the maker of Henry the Hand:

Together We CAN PREVENT a Pandemic, by adhering to the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness! As we humans are the incubator and the viruses replicate inside us, then we spread them.
By promoting these 4 Principles of Hand Awareness in each of our disciplines (Infection Control, Patient Safety, Food Safety, School Health, Employee Health, Family Health, and Public Health) to complement your existing programs, we will prevent a Flu, Flu-like illness, Strep, Pertussis, TB, Measles, Mumps, Shigella, Norovirus, E.coli and many other respiratory and gastro-intestinal diseases.
IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America) Pandemic Influenza Task Force (1/25/07), as well as others, are too focused on vaccinations as the response to a Pandemic, when the simple reality is the Primary Prevention is in each and every one of our hands. CDC has stated that the antiviral agents like Tamiflu are not effective against the existing Bird flu strain in SE Asia.
YES there are Tool Kits available for Schools, health care systems, general public and businesses to EDUCATE and EMPOWER their employees, families and communities the "how to" prevent the spread of infectious disease with simple Tools that are extremely effective and practical tools to change people's behavior that will PREVENT a Pandemic. It is not magic. It is EMPOWERMENT and INNOVATION to help develop the correct Hand Awareness Health Behavior to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
I know each and everyone will find the Tool Kit useful for your School, Health Care facility, community, business and family.
Acting locally to have an impact globally.
Help Spread the word not the germs!
Thank you,

Leslie holds degrees in Paramedic, Health Science and Herbal Therapy. She reviews the journals of NIOSH, Emerging Infectious Diseases and Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Review for pertinent information re: the recovery effort.

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Temporary Assistance For Needy Families

Alabama - 334-242-1310 (TANF)
Louisiana 225-342-3947 (FITAP (Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program), cash assistance)
Mississippi 1-800-948-4060 (TANF)

The four purposes of TANF are:
assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes
reducing the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work and marriage
preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies
encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
Highlights of TANFWork Requirements:
Recipients (with few exceptions) must work as soon as they are job ready or no later than two years after coming on assistance.
Single parents are required to participate in work activities for at least 30 hours per week. Two-parent families must participate in work activities 35 or 55 hours a week, depending upon circumstances.
Failure to participate in work requirements can result in a reduction or termination of benefits to the family.
States cannot penalize single parents with a child under six for failing to meet work requirements if they cannot find adequate child care.
States, in FY 2004, have to ensure that 50 percent of all families and 90 percent of two-parent families are participating in work activities. If a state reduces its caseload, without restricting eligibility, it can receive a caseload reduction credit. This credit reduces the minimum participation rates the state must achieve.
Work Activities –
Activities that count toward a state’s participation rates (some restrictions may apply):
unsubsidized or subsidized employment
on-the-job training
work experience
community service
job search – not to exceed 6 total weeks and no more than 4 consecutive weeks
vocational training – not to exceed 12 months
job skills training related to work
satisfactory secondary school attendance
providing child care services to individuals who are participating in community service.
Five-Year Time Limit:
Families with an adult who has received federally funded assistance for a total of five years (or less at state option) are not eligible for cash aid under the TANF program.
States may extend assistance beyond 60 months to not more than 20 percent of their caseload. They may also elect to provide assistance to families beyond 60 months using state-only funds or Social Services Block Grants.
State Maintenance of Effort Requirement (MOE):
The TANF block grant has an annual cost-sharing requirement for States, referred to as maintenance of effort or MOE.
Every fiscal year each state must spend a certain minimum amount of its own money to help eligible families in ways consistent with the TANF program.Penalties
Personal Employability Plans:
States must make an initial assessment of a recipient’s skills.
States may develop personal responsibility plans for each recipient to identify the education, training, and job placement services needed to move into the workforce.
Teen Parent Live-at-Home and Stay-in-School Requirement:
Unmarried minor parents must participate in educational and training activities and live with a responsible adult or in an adult-supervised setting in order to receive assistance.
States are responsible for assisting in locating adult-supervised settings for teens who can not live at home.
Job Subsidies:
The law allows States to create jobs by taking money that is now used for welfare checks and using it to create community service jobs, provide income subsidies, or provide hiring incentives for potential employers.Waivers:
States that received approval for welfare reform waivers before January 1, 1997, have the option to operate their cash assistance program under some or all of these waivers until the waivers expire.
The law includes provisions for two bonuses that may be awarded to States and territories in addition to their basic TANF block grant.
TANF’s High Performance Bonus program provides cash awards to States for high relative achievement on certain measures related to the goals and purposes of the TANF program.
The Department of Health and Human Services is required to award a Bonus to Reward Decrease in Illegitimacy Ratio to as many as five States (and three territories, if eligible) that achieve the largest decrease in out-of-wedlock births without experiencing an increase in their abortion rates above 1995 levels.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

MS Disaster Foreclosure Law

Just received this from Lawyers for Civil Rights Under Law Disaster Survivors Legal Assistance Workshop Document.

If you would like a copy of the entire document (42 pages) please email me at KatrinaCoalition@aol.com
It's long, but worth the read if you're close to foreclosure!

Contact an attorney immediately. If your mortgage was entered into prior to October 4, 2005 and you were affected by Hurricane Katrina, you have an absolute right to stop this method of foreclosure, forcing your lender to proceed through the Chancery Court until October 4, 2007. However, you must assert your rights for them to be effective. The first step will be to seek a preliminary injunction from court, which will halt your lender’s actions of foreclosure.
What do I have to prove to receive a preliminary injunction to stop the foreclosure?
To receive an injunction temporarily prohibiting foreclosure due to missed payments, the mortgagor must first complete an affidavit, swearing that their property meets the requirements for relief.
This statement must confirm the following:
Neither you nor any other person owning an interest in the legal title to the mortgaged property is able to pay the sums in arrears on the mortgaged debt.
Neither you nor any other person owning an interest in the legal title to the mortgaged property has been able to secure a refinancing of the mortgaged debt “after diligent effort” up to the date of the filling of the petition.
BE ADVISED! You will be required to provide correspondence between you and your lender to prove that you have tried to refinance your mortgage debt. It is important to keep all records between you and your bank, and document your efforts.
The destruction or damage on the mortgaged premises from the natural disaster has caused the value of the mortgaged property to depreciate by more than 15% of its value, or reduced the rental value by more than 15%.
To prove that your property value has diminished by this amount, have a reputable licensed appraiser inspect your property and document the change in value. Though the opinion of a licensed appraiser will be most persuasive in court, they can be expensive, costing over 100 dollars per hour.
More affordable opinions could be received from real estate agents a city tax appraisal officer, or a city building inspector. Presently, the City of Gulfport’s building inspectors are issuing opinions regarding the percentage of damage at no cost. If purchased recently, the purchase price may be used as a base point.
Please explore these options, keeping in mind that the burden is on you, the mortgagor, to prove that the fair market value of the property has depreciated by more than 15%.
If these requirements are met, the Chancellor of the Chancery Court will likely issue a preliminary injunction enjoining foreclosure proceedings on the mortgaged property. A sample affidavit can be found at the end of this document.
WARNING - everything stated in this affidavit must be entirely true! An inaccurate claim in this form constitutes perjury.

*** It is important to remember that this Statute is only a two-year moratorium from the date of the disaster or emergency declaration invoking it!
In this case, it was invoked on October 4th, 2005. Additionally, the payments relieved during the moratorium period will eventually have to be paid. The schedule of repayment will be set forth by your lender.

Am I excused from any payments if I receive an injunction?
No. If an injunction is issued, the court may establish a reasonable monthly “carrying cost” to be paid by the property owner in order to maintain the property, and cover property taxes, insurance and interest on the mortgage. If a property owner fails to make these payments, the court may revoke the injunction and allow the lender to foreclose on the property.

If my lender challenges the preliminary injunction with a motion to dissolve, what can I do?
If the preliminary injunction is granted, your lender may file a Motion to Dissolve the injunction, which will be heard at a hearing 30 or more days after the filing of your complaint. At this hearing, you must prove that everything stated in your affidavit is true. You should bring all documentation that was gathered in creating the affidavit. At this hearing, you will have to convince the judge that your testament is more accurate than the lender’s.

Is every homeowner entitled to an injunction?
No. This relief is targeted at homeowners who are legitimately unable to repay or refinance their mortgages as well as those whose properties have lost substantial value as a result of the hurricane. Therefore, property owners must swear in their petition that: (1) they cannot pay the amounts past due on their mortgage; (2) that they have tried but have been unable to refinance their mortgage and (3) that their property has lost more than fifteen (15) percent of its value because of either structural damage or economic conditions caused by the hurricane. Nevertheless, lenders may still challenge such petitions, and homeowners may be required to submit evidence sufficient to prove that they qualify for an injunction.

I am a rental property owner. Are my rental properties protected as well?
In addition to the protections outlined above, rental property owners may receive an injunction if they can show the following: (1) that they cannot pay the amounts past due on the mortgage; (2) that they have tried, but have been unable to refinance the mortgage, and (3) that they have lost more than 15 percent of the average annual income derived from the property as a proximate result of the hurricane. For residential rental property owners, however, there is an additional requirement that “good faith” efforts be made to make a property habitable.

What will happen in when the moratorium ends in October 2007?
As a temporary measure, the Moratorium has a termination date. As such, after October 4, 2007, lenders will be able to once again initiate foreclosure proceedings (as they could before the hurricane) against property owners who are still delinquent on their mortgage payments, including payments that were originally scheduled to be made before and during the moratorium period.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Historic Building Grants

Trustees with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History are visiting the coast. Board members toured several historic sites Thursday and announced a multi million dollar grant program to help restore storm damaged homes and landmarks.
Katrina crumbled the "Old Brick House" on Biloxi's Back Bay. The longtime landmark is among dozens of historic sites that sustained significant damage. Restoring such treasures is a daunting challenge.
"The devastation has been so incredible, so tremendous. But we approach it one structure at a time. That's the only way I know how to go about rebuilding a community," board president William Winter said.
Perhaps the most visible historic landmark on the coast, sustained the most structural storm damage. The Department of Archives and History is already onboard with the ongoing effort to restore Beauvoir.
"When somebody from out of state would call me, the first question they'd ask was 'How's Beauvoir?' That's a symbol of survival for everybody," Archives and History President Hank Holmes said.
More important than historic landmarks, are historic neighborhoods. Residents of the Turkey Creek community greeted the trustees at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church.
"This is where I was born. This is where I raised my children," Rev. Calvin Jackson said as he reminded trustees of the rich culture and proud heritage of this historic African-American community.
Former Governor Winter presented community leaders with a proclamation and unveiled a $26 million grant program that will help restore and rebuild historic homes and landmarks.
Hurricane Katrina left her indelible mark on the coast in less than 24 hours. Restoration and recovery will take years. But trustees with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History say however long it takes, restoring and remembering the past is a critical part of the coast's overall recovery.
"That which was of marginal historic value before the hurricane, now may be very valuable because that is all that is left to remind us<" Holmes said.
Historic homes and public buildings may be eligible for the $26 million grant program announced Thursday. To qualify, the structures must be on the National Register of Historic Places, or be eligible for that designation.
Guidelines and applications for the Hurricane Relief Grant Program for Historic Preservation are available by clicking here, or by calling 228-435-1180 or 601-576-6940.
by Steve Phillips

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Site Being Established

As some of you may know, I've registered with the Make a Difference Day initiative being held on October 28, 2006. First, I urge you to do the same thing - http://www.makeadifferenceday.com/ is where you can do this.

Next, I registered a project that I had been planning for some time, and had only just decided to initiate. Because I want the Gulf Coast to have as much focus as possible, I am delaying the project by about a week. My project is called - Real People Relief and the address will be http://www.realpeoplerelief.blogspot.com/. I have already registered the name, so no worries about a name change.

I know many of you work with individual families who, along with you, are struggling to find the money for their daily living and recovery efforts. I am able to highlight up to 1 family a week from each organization who contacts me - leaving the information of each family up as long as I receive 2 updates a month - whether from them or you. I am willing to post up to 3 current pictures (I'll touch them up if needed, and resize if needed) and will rotate pictures as new ones become available.

Individuals who contact me directly will be placed under my banner of Katrina Networking. All of you who send me information will have those families placed under YOUR organization's banner, along with your website and contact information, should a person choose who wants to help actually chooses to volunteer.

I will send you the links for each family (or person) whose information you send to me, so that you have me edit the information as needed. You will also be able to send this link to your reader/volunteer base so they can follow the information with less effort on your part.

Since I continue to receive an increasing number of emails from both organizations and citizens alike regarding the fact little money is trickling down to their level, I feel this is a very important thing to do. Add that most people are just wanting to know they are not forgotten, I feel this will be a very important emotional assistance to those we are all trying to assist.

With that, I will paste my questionnaire into this email and would great appreciate any participation on your part.

Leslie Holly

Questionnaire For Inclusion On Real People Relief

Information Posted on Your Page
- I would like first and last, but please note what you feel comfortable having posted for all to see.

Email: - only contact information public will have about you. You will decide if you want them to know your full information by emailing them.

Location: - where you were; where you are; where you plan to be in a year.

Number in Household
: - Please include pets. First names, sex and age of each person.

Situation: – brief paragraph of what you’ve been through, who you’ve applied for help with, what has happened in the last year.

Current Living Arrangements:
- FEMA Trailer, Apartment, House, Tent?

Help: - what help, if any, have you received thus far?

Photos: - Up to current photos – can be rotated through as new images are sent.

Needs: Please list preferences; if you’re going to want, you might as well want what you want! Below are examples and in the categories to be listed under.
Foods – non-perishable only
Paper Products – Napkins, Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, etc.
School Supplies – notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, etc.
Computer Supplies – paper, ink (give specific cartridges)
Clothing – list sizes and style color preference
Cleaning Supplies – Windex, Dishwashing liquid, Laundry detergent, etc.
Household Supplies – light bulbs, kitchen supplies (pans, pots, etc.)
Stores you shop at – for possible gift cards or gift registry

Information Not Posted
Full Name
Mailing Address
Phone Number

What I Need from you
Twice monthly updates: - The more often I can update your information, the more frequently your information will be reviewed. People view blogs like an ongoing story. They get hooked on new little tidbits. If I don’t receive regular updates, the information will be pulled after 8 weeks.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Access To Care

It's okay to get help. Call us at 1-866-794-HOPE.

Making access to mental health and substance abuse treatment available to those affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

After a natural disaster, some people find they have difficulty with eating, sleeping, relating to others or concentrating at work or school. It can take a while to recognize your symptoms, and sometimes they might not seem connected to the event of the hurricane itself. If you still don't feel like yourself, it might help you and your family to talk to someone. Access to Care can help.
Many people experience a range of these symptoms. It's normal to feel different after surviving and dealing with the aftermath of a difficult ordeal such as a natural disaster. Sometimes, however, these problems last longer than expected, and you may find that they are interfering with your everyday life.

You and your family may be eligible to receive assistance for mental health or substance abuse treatment if you were directly affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita or Wilma. This program is available regardless of where you live, your insurance coverage or your immigration status. You choose the type of treatment and the licensed provider. Coverage is retroactive to August 30, 2005 and will cover services received on or prior to April 1, 2008. The program is an initiative of the American Red Cross Hurricane Recovery Program and administered by Link2Health, a non-profit subsidiary of the Mental Health Association of NYC.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saving Heat

For the first time in recent memory, energy costs are predicted to go down this winter. For home improvers, it has never been a better time to go with the flow and save serious cash on heating your home. Here are five easy ways to begin:
DON’T WAIT TO INSULATE -- Most homes in America, even those that are just a couple of years old, simply don’t have enough insulation. The good news is that it is cheap and easy to do yourself. For around $30 a roll, you can add 6” to your attic insulation and see savings from the moment you complete the job. Since most heat loss is through the ceiling, this is a fast way to get a quick return on investment.
GAPS, CRACKS AND HOLES -- In many ways, homes have been built pretty much the same inefficient way for the past 200 years. Hollow wood frames are constructed and plugged up by building materials designed to fill those spaces and make the structure energy efficient. In the process, lots of holes are left behind. According to insulation manufacturer Great Stuff, adding up all those tiny spaces results in a 16 square foot hole that needs to be filled in, one small gap at a time.
Foam sealants ($5), caulk ($2), weather-stripping ($1 and up) are great ways to get control of the drafts that let your heat leak out. For example, run your hand over any electrical outlet or light switch on an exterior wall and you’ll feel the breath of old man soaring right through. The solution is outlet gaskets, small precut pieces of foam insulation that cost pennies and can be placed behind the switch plate to form a draft-proof seal.
2 things that are temporary for those wonderful trailers - rope caulk and plastic sheeting over windows. Both are super cheap, super easy to install and easily removed.
LOW COST LIGHTING -- Compact florescent lamps (CFLs) use 25 percent of the energy of an incandescent light bulb and can cut lighting costs by a whopping 75 percent. New advances in CFLs, like the n:vision bulbs sold at The Home Depot, have made them more effective than ever. n:vision CFLs come in a variety of effects including soft white, bright white and day light. CFLs can last 10,000 hours and n:Vision CFLs come with a 9-year warranty. CFL’s are more expensive than incandescent bulbs. However, the energy savings and convenience of not having to replace them makes this a very good deal.
I've used these and won't go back. Great for small dark areas!
SMART THERMOSTATS -- According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing a standard thermostat with a clock setback model can cut heating costs by 10 percent. Clock setback thermostats ($50 +/-) turn your heat down automatically when it is not needed. For example, in the average home, heat needs to be set at a comfortable level for only a small part of the work week. Clock setback thermostats can turn the heat down at night when you go to bed, up an hour before you awake, down again when you leave for work and up again when you come home. Smarter models even know when it’s a weekend and can be set to leave the heat up all day.
These too, can be removed - just keep the original thermostat to reinstall when you leave.
HOT WATER WASTE -- Most water heaters are pretty “dumb” appliances. They heat water to the same temperature 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -– whether you need it or not! While on-demand tankless water heaters are a better option, they also require a large investment. To cut water heating costs without breaking the bank, install a water heater blanket ($10) to lower heat loss and turn the heat down from 120 degrees to 110 degrees, plenty hot for creature comforts without any waste.For electric water heaters, it is also smart to install a timer that turns the electricity off when hot water is not needed. Just like the clock setback thermostats above, water only needs to be fully heated for 8-10 hours of a typical day. Good insulation will keep the tank warm for any uses that occur in between peak hours. Also, draining a few gallons out of the water heater every 3 months will reduce sediment on the bottom of the tank and increase efficiency.
The blankets are a GREAT thing. Just make sure you install them according to directions. And, if your heater is outside - use the old First Aid trick - as long as it's safe - as many blankets UNDER as OVER. I'd also suggest getting a roll of insulation and wrapping that over water pipes. That foam insulation is ok, but when the pipes are exposed to the elements, it just won't keep out all the cold. - you'll need duct tape and patience to do this, but you won't waste nearly the hot water.
Bigger Projects: Avoid the Hype
When considering energy saving home improvement, it important to avoid the hype. Some years back, an advertiser for my national radio show The Money Pit asked us to record a window commercial that claimed you could “save 50% on your energy bills” buy installing their windows. I told the advertiser the only way this might be true is if you had no windows to start with!
Consumers are wise to be wary of bold claims for expensive improvements. Sure, installing modern windows is a smart move, but it’s a big move and one that will deliver payback over a longer period of time than one heating season.
Less costly and complicated home improvements can truly deliver a return on your investment that far exceeds the time and expense needed.For more information, including dozens of ways to cut energy costs this winter, Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new ENERGY STAR @ home Interactive Tool for energy-efficient home improvement ideas and advice.
Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show’s podcast or sign-up for Tom’s free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program’s website at http://www.moneypit.com.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Make A Difference Day

Hey Everyone.
I want everyone to take note - you need to sign up for this! First, it allows you to hopefully get some funding to continue your work, but at least as importantly is that it makes people more aware that the situation along the Gulf Coast is NOT back to normal and that help is still needed so badly.
Make A Difference Day Home Page
a PDF file to print out your registration form - you don't send it in until AFTER the day.
a Database of organizations who are doing something on that day
This is where you need to put your information NOW. Even if you don't enter for the funding, this is another place to make your presence known and hopefully get some volunteers/funding/materials

12/1 - Well! I am tickled PINK. one of the groups here - The Giving Circle - got highlighted in tomorrows USA Weekend for what they did on 10/28! Woohoo!

Check out this link to a web-site of USA Weekend.....
and sneak a preview of today's (Sunday, December 3, 2006) USA Weekend. Scroll down in the discussion of Make a Difference Day and read, in particular, the paragraph about Mark Bertrand.
Out of the "thousands of efforts supported by 3 million Americans (that) changed lives Oct. 28", it is good to see The Giving Circle and Mark's efforts chosen to be among those few that are highlighted.

10/24 I have searched 27 states and have found only 5 registries for the Gulf Region - 4 of which are HERE. That isn't nearly enough. You aren't blowing your own horn here - you are Advocating for the people you are helping. The nation and world need to know the Gulf is still in serious need. REGISTER!

Organizations Who Have Signed Up:

Giving Circle
Radio Station WQRZ in Hancock County, Miss., served as the emergency broadcast center for the entire county during Hurricane Katrina. It was the only radio station that stayed on the air during the storm at great risk to the owner and operator, Brice Phillips, earning him a presidential award for volunteerism. The entire station eventually succumbed to the storm, was submerged in water and destroyed. We intend to make a difference by helping to get WQRZ back into a permanent, hurricane-resistant structure. A team has salvaged electronics from the original station location in preparation for demolition. Oct. 28 will be "Demolition Day" where team members will help to demolish the structure. Ultimate goal of the project is to procure a half-round steel building and help re-establish the station's emergency services so that people can be informed in the event of another emergency.

Hancock County Food Pantry

Laurianne wrote stating they are doing a food drive for both the Food Pantry and Hope Haven Children's Shelter at the local grocery in Diamondhead.

Katrina Networking -

is going to be establishing a blog for 'real people to help real people.' I have been hearing from both volunteers and individuals alike that many case managers are being hired, but no money for the cases they are managing is being dispersed. So - I am going to be reaching out the all of the groups I know of to give me case history on one family per week that they are helping for me to post on the new blog. If all goes well, this will be up to 18 families per week.

Katrina's Angels -
Katrina's Angels is a volunteer, "virtual" nonprofit assisting disaster survivors. We will be posting an online Angels Tree with needy individuals to help over the holidays. No personal info will be given until the family is sponsored and then a follow-up to confirm sponsored families are actually getting items (so no one will be missed).
We help survivors in all 50 states and all donations go directly to the families or will be used to offset shipping charges. We welcome any groups, churches, business, school groups etc that may want to do a group effort and as a registered 501c3, we can give tax exemption receipts.

We will also welcome any volunteers that would like to help in any way, from sending emails, data entry, drives or fundraisers, collections, distributions etc.
Lynne Onufer Program Director http://www.katrinasangels.org/
From USA Weekend - 350 parents, teachers, Rotary International members and KaBOOM! volunteers will build a playground for kids whose two schools were destroyed by hurricane Katrina [in Kiln, MS - this is Charles B. Murphy and Gulfview Elementary]. The students, who now attend class in trailers, designed their new play space. This is KaBOOM!s 24th playground in the Gulf Region. At each project, volunteers are urged to "Play it Forward."

Lost Coast Line

Concrete debris gets a second life
HANCOCK COUNTY - Massive chunks of concrete debris are hardly a final solution to saving the state's eroding coastline, but it's a good start, according to U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss.
Taylor and officials from the state Department of Marine Resources boarded a boat Monday to check the status of several projects in which Katrina-related rubble is being used to protect the Coast from future storms or angry seas.
"There wasn't much good that came from the storm, but at least we were able to do something good with the concrete," Taylor said.
Since Katrina, Taylor's office has worked with local governments to store concrete refuse until it can be used for environmental projects, such as building a breakwater in Bayou Caddy and replenishing inshore fish and oyster reefs.
The Bayou Caddy breakwater was completed recently with concrete from the old U.S. 90 bridge over the Bay of St. Louis.
The Corps of Engineers eventually will build a U-shaped barrier from the shore to the concrete breakwater, and together, it will shield the state's second fastest eroding coastline from pounding wave energy and wicked storm surges.
Most of the bridge rubble is stuffed between concrete pilings that are visible from the Silver Slipper Casino. The pilings are from the Gulfport Seabee Base and have been driven about 40 feet below the ground to hold breakwater in place.
It's hard to tell that the mangled rocks, now nearly submerged in saltwater, were once part of the two-mile bridge that opened in 1953, two weeks before Taylor was born.
"I never thought I'd outlive that bridge," Taylor said, while looking down at the smashed rubble on Monday.
In addition to the barrier at Bayou Caddy, some of the bridge was used to replenish a Katrina-clobbered fishing reef near Square Handkerchief Key.
Taylor first led the construction of the reef, just south of the bay, in 2002 using concrete from the old eastbound Interstate 10 bridge over the Jourdan River.
Two years later, he helped double the size of the reef with concrete from the westbound span, and because of his work, the crescent-shaped reef has become unofficially known as Gene Taylor Key to many local anglers.
"When I was a kid, there was a natural reef out here," Taylor said. "Over time, the sand will build up around this concrete and it'll come back; it's also a great place to catch fish."
Taylor is working with state and federal agencies on a similar project near Deer Island in Biloxi, using the remains of the old Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge.
According to the Labor Department's Producer Price Index, concrete prices jumped 10.5 percent in one year. Rising energy prices are turning concrete into gold and creating a mad rush of entrepreneurs hoping to garner as much as they can, crush it into small bits and then resell it for a profit.
Taylor is urging local governments to store scrap concrete until it can be recycled for other fishing reefs or to help shield the state's corroding coastline.
"Environmentally, this is extremely important to South Mississippi," Taylor said. "If our islands are sinking and our coastline is washing away, then it makes no sense to just let this concrete go to waste."
10/23 Link to a page that has a letter you can write to help reclaim the wetlands

Hurricanes claimed 217 miles of state's coast
By Mark Schleifstein
Staff writer
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ripped away 217 miles of Louisiana’s fragile coastline, turning it from land to water overnight, accelerating a process that already posed grave threats to coastal communities, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.
Survey scientists compared satellite images taken in 2004 with similar images from October 2005 to match areas that were wetlands, undeveloped dry land and farmland with what looked like open water several weeks after the storms.
The survey underscores the state’s repeated demands that federal officials speed efforts to rebuild the Louisiana coastline, both to protect fragile fisheries and wildlife and grow the buffer of plants, soils and barrier islands that can slow the approach of killer hurricane storm surges.
Indeed, Gov. Kathleen Blanco last week brandished the study, then not yet publicly released, to buttress her lawsuit attempting to block the federal Minerals Management Service from holding additional offshore oil lease sales. The governor seeks to force the agency to first perform a proper environmental assessment of the effects of oil and gas production on the state’s wetlands. “I am using every tool available to me to fight the federal government and will not allow them to continue to disregard the safety and environmental health of our fragile coastline any longer,” Blanco said in a statement.
In southeastern Louisiana, the study results show that the sea swallowed 79.2 square miles of land and wetlands east of the Mississippi River.
“We had a 50-year projection for wetlands loss as part of the Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration plan,” said USGS scientist Jimmy Johnston., referring to the proposed $1.2 billion collection of restoration projects still awaiting Congressional approval. “Guess what? That’s outdated. We went through 40 percent of that loss with these storm events.”
“We feel it’s actually going to be less than that, and some will recover, but it’s still too soon to tell,” he said.
Of the total land lost, Plaquemines Parish took the brunt of the land loss, 57.2 square miles. The biggest chunk of that loss came in a pie-shaped section of wetlands south of the St. Bernard hurricane protection levees, on the eastern side of the Mississippi River. Before the storm, the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Project have rebuilt land that area lost over years of erosion.
In two other examples, the New Orleans East Landbridge — the stretch of solid land and wetlands, including Lake St. Catherine, that straddles U.S. 90 in far eastern New Orleans — lost 1.4 square miles of marsh, and the Labranche wetlands on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain in St. Charles Parish lost 1.2 square miles. The landbridge is seen as a key last line of defense keeping storm surge out of Lake Pontchartrain, while the Labranche wetlands is one of the most successful Breaux Act restoration projects.
Northshore marshes along the lake and adjacent to Mississippi Sound also saw 2.1 square miles of land and marsh turn to water.
The areas could rebound, if marsh grass resprouts from land now just under the water’s surface before the soil is washed away, but it will take three or four growing seasons to gauge the progress, if any, Johnston said. In some cases, high water may still have been trapped in areas surrounded by berms or between ridges for several months after the storms, giving the appearance of open water. In others, the earthen base of flotant — floating marsh — may have survived the storm, and the marsh plants may regrow, covering interior water areas with greenery again.
In Plaquemines Parish, where Katrina hit with 127 mph winds and a 25-foot storm surge, the storm sheared the wetland grasses from vast stretches of the once-verdant marsh.
Based on earlier land loss projections, Congress targeted the area for a $10.1 million wetlands restoration project, including the money in its last major post-Katrina spending bill earlier this year.
Congress has targeted the area for a $10.1 million wetlands restoration project.
The money will be used to change the way the Caernarvon project works. In the past, gates on the structure were opened to allow fresh water from the Mississippi River to move east towards Breton Sound. While the rushing water transported enough sediment to begin filling the Big Mar — an abandoned, sunken early 20th Century agricultural project, right near the river — little of that sediment made its way to wetlands farther east. And in the year following Katrina, the Mississippi River’s flow has been so low that little sediment and freshwater have reached the area.
To remedy that, the Army Corps of Engineers now plans to run a new pipeline through the diversion structure, which would deliver sediment dredged from the river into the wetlands, even during years with low river flows. Channels also will be built from the structure to areas targeted for rebuilding, she said.
The new marsh and land will be strategically located to help block storm surge from future hurricanes, she said. Estimates of how quickly the changes will create new marsh are not yet available.
Also taking a big hit during Katrina were the Chandeleur Islands, a crescent-shaped bump of sand that was the state’s easternmost land mass. The islands have been hit repeatedly by hurricanes, losing sand and reforming after Hurricanes Georges in 1998 and Ivan in 2002.
Katrina scraped 3.6 miles of sand from the chain, a substantial portion of the island chain, and officials say it’s unclear if or when the sand will reshape into islands during the next few years.
University of New Orleans geologist Shea Penland said the barrier — once one long spit of sand and now dozens of islets — lost about 500 feet of beach, on average, during the storm. That compares to an erosion rate of only 30 feet a year from 1880 to 1996.
Penland warned that despite such dramatic land loss estimates, the full story of damage by Katrina and Rita has yet to be told. Some anecdotal reports suggest marsh grasses have rebounded quickly.
“Going back into the areas around Breton Sound and Caernarvon, when you look at this year’s growing crop of Spartina alterniflora (the most prevalent wetland grass in south Louisiana), there’s a lot more land out there than there was in the months immediately after Katrina,” he said.
Even more unclear are the longterm effects of Rita on southwest Louisiana’s Chenier Plain, said Johnston and John Barras, co-authors of the USGS study.
In the Chenier Plain, Rita pushed saltwater over ridges into interior swamps and lakes, where it has remained ponded in some areas a year after the storm, killing or severely damaging formerly healthy freshwater marshes.
The saltwater also has wreaked havoc with the combination of rice and crawfish agriculture in that area, which also relied on freshwater. And it has thrown a monkey wrench into a variety of wetland restoration projects built with federal and state money during the past 10 years.
“We’re now looking at individual projects to see what the effects are,” Barre said.
That assessment will feed into a comprehensive evaluation of coastal areas, Johnston said.
“We need a new evaluation of the wetlands system as a whole,” he said.
Johnston said a continuing review of the effects of the two storms will help in federal-state efforts to rebuild the coast. And it may require scientists working on those efforts to recalibrate complex computer models used to determine which restoration projects should be built, he said.
“We’ve never done a full scale study of wetland loss resulting from hurricanes,” he said. “We know storms have an effect, but how much of an effect is that? We knew subsidence was an issue resulting from oil and gas production and groundwater withdrawals, but we never really evaluated the after-effects of Hurricanes Betsy, Audrey, or Camille.
“We’re hit by at least three or four hurricanes somewhere along the coast every 15 to 20 years, and there’s usually a good bit of recovery,” he said. “But our understanding is so skewed by these two events. We believed that land loss rates along the coast had been reduced considerably during the past 10 years, but between 2000 and 2005, we’ve had four times the amount of land change.”
Mark Schleifstein can be reached at mschleifstein AT timespicayune DOT com

Pet Evacuation Drill

St. Tammany practices pet evacuation
By Charlie Chapple
St. Tammany bureau
Some 70 dogs and cats from the St. Tammany Parish and Slidell animal shelters were the focus of attention from almost as many people in Covington on Wednesday during a regional hurricane preparedness exercise.
The dogs and cats, in this case, were guinea pigs closely watched by local, state and federal officials as the parish tested its new pet evacuation plan.
The animals, from puppies to large mixed breeds, played the role of pets dropped off by their owners at the parish fairgrounds livestock arena for evacuation from an approaching hurricane.
They were stroked and petted by volunteers with Noah’s Wish, a non-profit animal rescue organization, who played the role of their owners. They were photographed, tagged, watered and fed by workers with the parish Department of Animal Services, who filled out forms documenting information from their pretend owners. They were then placed in pet carriers and loaded onto an air-conditioned van for trip to a pet evacuation shelter in north Louisiana.
For the exercise, the trip was only to the other side of the livestock arena where Noah’s Wish volunteers took more photographs of the animals, rechecked the information on the paperwork attached to their carriers and placed them in a temporary shelter.
From most accounts, the exercise went well, parish Director of Animal Services Brent Robbins said. “The main thing is to make sure the animals are tagged properly and identified so we can reunite them with their owners,” he said.
Robbins said the exercise was extremely helpful in determining the amount of time it will take to fill out the paperwork and do the documentation to assure a safe and easy return of the animals to their owners.
He timed parts of the drill with a stopwatch and was elated when the time to process a cat or dog for evacuation was reduced from 5 to 2 1/2 minutes.
A new state law requires state and local disaster planners to make provisions for “the humane evacuation” of pets. The law also calls for emergency pet shelters to be located adjacent to those for human evacuees and for establishing a pet tracking system so animals can be reunited with their owners.
On the state level, the responsibility for animal evacuations is with the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Veterinarians and other volunteers with the department’s Louisiana State Animal Response Team were at Wednesday’s exercise.
“Our main message is evacuate with your pets. Take them with you,” said Becky Adcock, a veterinarian who is the response team’s public information officer.
For those unable to evacuate with their pets, the parish program offers another path to safety for pets and their owners, parish officials said.
In a real evacuation, Adcock said pet owners, after they turned in their animals, would board a bus to be taken to a shelter next to one housing their pets. That way, animal owners can be near their pets and help take care of them, she said.
Dexter Accardo, director of the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said exercises like the one Wednesday should help instill public confidence in the new parish plan.
“If you turn your pet in, you’re going to get your pet back,” Accardo said.
The test of the parish pet evacuation plan was included in the regional exercise that involved emergency response officials from St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington and St. Helena parishes.
The exercise scenario was a hurricane that hits the region and spawns several tornadoes throughout the four parishes.
Accardo said the exercise, held at the parish emergency operations center in Covington, focused on the four parishes working together during a hurricane and sharing resources, “from hospital beds to bulldozers to clear roads.”
Charlie Chapple can be reached at cchapple AT timespicayune DOT com

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

FEMA v. Disabled

FEMA, MEMA warn against blocking vents
FEMA and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency caution travel trailer occupants that add-on structures may be dangerous. Add-ons can block trailer exhaust vents, which may raise carbon monoxide levels.
This also may happen if the trailer exhaust vents blow into the add-on structures.
If occupants have built an add-on structure close to or blocking the exhaust vent, it should be moved away from the trailer to allow dangerous carbon monoxide gas to disperse. Carbon monoxide gas is odorless, colorless, poisonous and deadly.
Occupants can call the FEMA maintenance number at 866-877-6075 24 hours a day if they have any questions about the vents.

To prevent explosions, FEMA paints stove knobs red in Katrina victims' trailers
10/13/2006, 1:04 p.m. CT
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN The Associated Press

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — Trying to prevent deadly explosions, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent contractors to more than 100,000 government-issue trailers on the Gulf Coast to paint stove knobs a distinctive red.
FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker said the change will help trailer residents tell the difference between the knobs that control the igniters and those that operate the burners on propane stoves.
Walker said four gas- or stove-related fires in FEMA trailers have been reported in Louisiana, including one in April that killed a man in Slidell. He said FEMA has had no reports of gas or stove fires in Mississippi.
Investigators blamed the deadly explosion in Slidell on propane that leaked from the trailer's stove when the knobs for two burners were left switched on.
Walker said workers in Mississippi have painted the knobs on about 85 percent of the 30,000 to 40,000 trailers there. In Louisiana, around 20 percent of the knobs in 70,000 trailers have been painted red.
The task is time-consuming because trailer occupants must be home for the work to be done, Walker said.
He had no estimate on how much it will cost FEMA.
The plan seemed like a waste of time and money to Vica Dees, a Biloxi resident whose stove knob was painted last week.
"It was just odd," she said. "I know what that knob is for. If it was that big of a hazard, they should have replaced it before they gave us the trailer."
FEMA scrapped its initial plan to replace black knobs with red ones. "We found out there are not enough knobs out there to get the job done in a timely manner," Walker said.
Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said his department has responded to dozens of fires in FEMA trailers since last year's storm — some caused by propane leaks, others by faulty wiring, cigarettes or food left in the oven or on the stove too long.
"You've got to give FEMA credit," Sullivan added. "They're taking immediate action because they evidently have identified a problem."

FEMA Needs To Give Out Handicap Accessible Trailers
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As part of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit, Brou v. FEMA, approved by the Federal District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana on September 26, 2006, the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reaching out to notify Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees with disabilities, or those living with someone who has a disability, that accessible trailers are available for temporary housing. Katrina and Rita evacuees with disabilities who do not have accessible temporary housing should contact FEMA and make their needs known, even if they have previously been in touch with FEMA about their housing needs.
People with disabilities, meaning an impairment that limits one or more major life activities like walking, seeing, hearing, or speaking, may be able to get an accessible trailer from FEMA. Depending on the type of disability, individuals and/or the families they live with may be able to get a trailer with a ramp, enough turning space for a wheelchair, accessible tub or shower, as well as grab bars in showers, tubs and near toilets.
Individuals with disabilities, or those living with someone with a disability, who need an accessible trailer, should call 1-866-496-4297 (Louisiana evacuees) and 1-888-294-2820 (Mississippi evacuees), from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, (TTY number for both Louisiana and Mississippi is 1-800-462-7585) . Those calling the toll-free number should be prepared to discuss the kind of disability and the kinds of accessibility features that are needed.
FEMA will assist individuals with disabilities by either providing an accessible trailer, modifying an individual's current trailer to make it accessible, or finding those in need a suitable place to live.
Accessible trailers may take up to 90 days to deliver, or longer if an applicant does not have a suitable site for a trailer. Changes to make a current trailer accessible may take up to 60 days to complete.
Persons with disabilities who do not receive an accessible trailer should contact the agency at 1-866-496-4297 (Louisiana evacuees) and 1-888-294-2820 (Mississippi evacuees). To obtain an accessible trailer within the times in this notice, you must contact FEMA before May 9, 2007.

FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

Additional Information: http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=30558

Target Field Trip Grants

Deadline: November 1, 2006
As part of the Target ( http://www.target.com/) commitment to supporting education, the new Target Field Trip Grants program will award U.S. educators grants of $1,000 each to fund a field trip for their students.
Target Field Trip Grants may be used to fund trips ranging from visits to art museums and environmental projects to cultural events and civic experiences.
Up to eight hundred grants will be awarded. Grants are awarded to educators, teachers, principals, para-professionals, and/or classified staff.
Applications must be submitted electronically between September 1, 2006, and November 1, 2006. Only one submission per applicant will be accepted.
Visit the Target Web site for complete program information and the online application form.

Modular Homes Just Got Cheaper

Barbour Signs Modular Home Tax Cut Law
POSTED: 6:14 pm CDT October 5, 2006
JACKSON, Miss. -- Gov. Haley Barbour signed a new state law on Thursday that reduces the sales tax rate on modular homes from 7 percent to 3 percent.
The law took effect immediately.
Barbour said he hopes it will help speed up redevelopment in south Mississippi more than 13 months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed thousands of homes.
Both chambers of the Legislature passed the tax cut during special session that lasted only 1 hour and 45 minutes.
It passed the Senate with no opposition -- and it passed the House 114-1.
Barbour said the tax cut could save people $4,000 to $6,000 on the purchase of a modular home.
Modulars are made in factories and then put up on slabs at home sites. Some contractors believe that to an untrained eye, modulars look like traditionally built homes.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

MS Coast Economic Stats

10/30 Stats From FEMA
FEMA gives aid update
Relief fund nears $9.3 billion
FEMA released figures of its nearly $9.3 billion dollar disaster aid as of Oct. 20.
Of the peak 49,000 temporary housing units in place earlier this year, nearly 15,500 households have found other living accommodations. Temporary housing units are returned to FEMA at a rate of approximately 250 units per week.
Approximately $1.1 billion has been approved in Public Assistance categories, not including debris removal.
To date, Mississippi has disbursed $873 million to PA applicants for rebuilding projects including bridges, public buildings and utilities: $315 million for emergency protective measures, $364 million to repair public facilities, $295 million to restore public utilities, $55 million to restore public recreational facilities such as state parks, $29 million to repair roads and bridges and $1.6 million to repair water control devices such as reservoirs and irrigation channels.
Grants also are being approved and disbursed through the following programs: 216,363 individuals and families have been approved for housing assistance totaling $843 million and 133,788 Mississippi Katrina survivors have been approved for $410 million in other needs assistance.
More than $1.3 billion has been approved for land-based debris removal. About $231 million will be disbursed for marine debris removal. Approximately 45 million cubic yards of eligible land-based debris has been removed from public and private property in 79 of 82 counties; FEMA has given a six-month extension for the removal of land-based debris in the inundated areas of the three coastal counties.
The U.S. Coast Guard has cleared 32,937 cubic yards or about 3 percent of marine debris. Marine debris removal will be 100 percent federally funded until Aug. 28.
More than $2.5 billion was paid by FEMA through its National Flood Insurance Program to 17,068 policy holders. Nearly $3 billion was paid by FEMA to other federal agencies to complete specific tasks or mission assignments during response and recovery such as emergency medical assistance and debris removal.
Approximately 33,575 FEMA-provided temporary housing units are occupied, down from a peak of 49,000.
In addition, nearly $2.6 billion in U.S. Small Business Administration loans has been approved for Mississippians: Nearly $2.1 billion in loans to 30,971 homeowners and renters, $522 million to 4,306 businesses and more than $18.8 million to 327 small business owners for working capital.

Published 10/4/06
Click Subject for More Detail - This is oriented mostly toward Gulfport/Biloxi region, but the stats are there for all if you click the hyperlink.

FEMA Public Assistance - $880,239,470
Debris Removal – 24,009,807 cubic yards
FEMA Individual Assistance - $1,240,193,410
FEMA Temporary Housing – 36,006 units; 97,000 occupants
Community Development Block Grants – 165000 applications
Population – 98% of pre-Hurricane Katrina population
Small Business Administration Housing Assistance $1,838,406,100
Small Business Administration Business Loans - $452,219,600
Sales Tax Collections - $5,727,631 local portions (July 2006)
County Unemployment Rates – Harrison County 9.6% (August 2006)
2006 Monthly Gross Gaming Revenues – $68,235,122 (August 2006)
Hotel Inventory - 9,524 rooms
Mississippi Housing Damage Summary for Hurricane Katrina - 234,284
Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport Activity Statistics - August 2006
Number of Building Permits Issued Since Hurricane Katrina – 176 New Single Family (July 2006)

And this goes with the article:
Congressman says post-Katrina home grant program moving too slowly
Associated Press
PASCAGOULA, Miss. - U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor is criticizing the slow pace of Mississippi's $3 billion Homeowner Grant Program and urging that the process be sped up to help coast residents fighting to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
"I am more frustrated than most," Taylor, D-Miss., told The Mississippi Press newspaper. "The state's got to get going on this."
Taylor also was critical of state Sen. Tommy Robertson, R-Moss Point, and state Reps. Jim Beckett, R-Bruce, and Jim Simpson Jr., R-Gulfport, who stand to profit from a contract that allows them to use their professional legal services to complete homeowners' grants.
"The state constitution spells out that you're a public servant and you're not going to enrich yourself off public dollars," Taylor said. "I encourage the state Ethics Commission to look at the constitution."
Mississippi's Homeowner Grant Program is part of $5 billion the federal government gave the state in January to help homeowners who were flooded during the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane. The program provides that qualified homeowners who lived outside the federally designated flood plain can receive grants of up to $150,000.
Out of 17,000 Coast homeowners who applied for grants, 75 checks have been written, Mississippi Development Authority spokesman Scott Hamilton said earlier this month.
Taylor said Congress had approved the funding before Christmas.
"Here we are, 10 months later, and people don't have their money," he said. "The whole idea was to do something quickly."
He said that since July, dozens of homeowners have contacted his office asking why they had not received any money from the state.
Several residents haven't heard anything from the state since they applied for the grants in April, he said, adding that the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency that approved the $5 billion, is not holding up the process.
Taylor said he met with HUD representatives. "I asked them directly if they were responsible," he said. "They said no."
Taylor said his office sent a letter to Gov. Haley Barbour, who oversees the grant program, urging that the process be given more urgency. Barbour said last week that he also is frustrated by the pace of distributing the homeowners' grants.
Hamilton, who was leaving the MDA this week, said the state had expected the program to be completed in July. Hamilton blamed the sluggishness on problems dealing with hundreds of insurance companies and hundreds of mortgage companies.
"We hoped for a more automated system," Hamilton said earlier. "It's been much more manual."
But Taylor noted that fewer applicants applied for grants than the state had expected.
Taylor said he has real concerns about three state lawmakers profiting from the contract to complete grants. Under a contract awarded in competitive bid process, Robertson and Beckett close grants for homeowners who do not have mortgages or whose mortgage companies did not choose to participate in the Homeowner Grant Program.
Robertson and Beckett, who formed their company in March with the intention of bidding on the contract, receive $250 for every grant they complete in Harrison and Jackson counties. Between 2,000 and 5,000 homeowners are expected to close grants in those counties, which means the two lawmakers could make $1.2 million.
Robertson and Beckett also hired Simpson to complete grants for homeowners in the first judicial district of Harrison County. Robertson refused to disclose how much Simpson is being paid.
Because federal money is funding the Homeowner Grant Program, the three state lawmakers said it is legal for them to make money off it, and Barbour agreed.
Taylor, however, disagreed.
"I asked HUD, `Will these grant checks say The United States of America, or the state of Mississippi?'" Taylor said. "They said the checks say, state of Mississippi.
"I have trouble believing a state lawmaker can be doing this and not be violating Section 109 of the state Constitution," the congressman said. "In fairness, someone who is a judge needs to take a look at it and enforce the constitution."