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.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Architectural Reclamation

2/20 - A site the folks at Deconstruction Institute put me on to: www.BuildingReuse.org
MS Companies
LA Companies
AL Companies

2/19 A site to look at for additional information on Deconstruction and Architectural Reclamation:http://www.deconstructioninstitute.com/index.php

Mercy Corp Historic ReclamationAs more and more residents return home, many face the major decision of how to repair their houses. Where appropriate, Mercy Corps advocates for "deconstruction," which is done by contractors (not bulldozers) who take a home apart piece by piece to salvage reusable materials, recover items of historic value, and reclaim personal belongings if possible.
Salvageable building materials often include cypress floorboards, windows, moldings, mantels, bathroom fixtures and doors. Important benefits of deconstruction are that it keeps tons of solid waste from filling already overflowing landfills and creates job opportunities for construction crews.
Mercy Corps has worked with the city and federal government to make deconstruction a federally reimbursable option for homeowners. Currently, deconstruction is available for homes designated as "historic" by federal regulation, but the goal is to expand this program to others in the near future.
Mercy Corps works closely with the Green Project, which re-sells salvaged building materials to the public at affordable prices.
For information about purchasing recycled building materials, please contact the Green Project at 504-945-0240. Or, visit them at
www.thegreenproject.org or 2831 Marais Street, New Orleans.
For information on deconstruction, please contact Preston Browning
at pbrowning@mercycorpsfield.org or 225-236-2037.

Storm-damaged homes find new life
Workshop dismantles, recycles old materials
OCEAN SPRINGS - The surge-damaged home of Robert Wiygul and Julia Weaver will be dismantled in January and many of its parts distributed to Coast people who need building materials.
It could start a trend.
Dismantling is a better option than having it bulldozed and hauled to a landfill, Wiygul said. "The stuff gets reused. Some of it we'll use ourselves."
The deconstruction will be part of a workshop offered by Brad Guy, director of the Hamer Center for Community Design at Penn State University.
Along with the Wiygul's home, at least two homes in East Biloxi will be taken apart for materials during the workshop.
The idea is to train people to see the value of materials in houses that are too badly damaged to be saved.
The older homes have lumber in them that isn't available on the market anymore - cypress and heart pine. Often those old, wide boards can be planed and reused as flooring, even if it's sold at a discount.
"There are jobs in crushing things and hauling them to a landfill," Guy said. "But there are actually more jobs created when the material in a house is salvaged and recycled. Then there's the resale value of the salvaged material itself to be considered."
Mark Williams, coordinator of solid waste policy with the state Department of Environmental Quality, sees a broad application for the program.
"We've seen so much destruction and waste in debris that has come out of the hurricane," Williams said. "We're very supportive of these efforts to reclaim materials."
He said if dismantling catches on along the Coast, it might be a springboard for such practices statewide for any building set to be demolished.
The January workshop will be hands-on. The participants, who are coming from around the country, will be doing the salvage work.
"We won't make much of a dent, only three houses," Guy said. "But the materials will stay in the area."
It will be donated to the Interfaith Disaster Task Force warehouse in Gulfport for distribution.
The workshop is being held on the Coast to help promote deconstruction specifically for Hurricane Katrina-damaged buildings. But so far, those who signed up are from other states, where the notion of recycling dilapidated buildings is already catching on as a business.
In Pittsburgh, a nonprofit salvaging from blighted buildings has recorded $2.2 million in sales over five years to people looking for discounted building materials, Guy said.
Guy is hoping Coastians will sign up. The closest participant so far is from New Orleans. But a building recycling program on the Coast could offer residents lumber at half price.
Katrina-damaged houses donated to the workshop will yield Guy solid research on the true value of the work in this area - how long it takes to take a house apart and what the materials are worth.
Several Katrina scenarios can be found in the donated houses. There's the tiny one on Railroad Street in East Biloxi that can't be saved. It's leaning off its foundation, but its walls were built with 1-by-12s in such a way that they didn't even need studs. Those boards and others will be reused.
David Perkes, with the College of Architecture at Mississippi State University, has worked in East Biloxi since the storm and submitted the house to Guy. Perkes has passed along others that he and his crew have deemed unable to be repaired.
Wiygul's home was flooded only on the first floor, but sits so low on the lot that he and Weaver decided not to rebuild it to its original design. Instead, they'll start from scratch and build higher, smaller, sturdier and more energy efficient.
Since the storm, more than 400 volunteers have used the second floor for living quarters. It's still functional and Weaver said she hated the thought of all the fixtures, doors and windows - even the wood - going to a landfill.
"But we didn't want to put so much back into the house and worry about every tropical storm that comes along," Weaver said.
"The house has had a good life," Wiygul said. "It has housed a lot of kids and volunteers, and now it's going to its next life."
Dismantling a house
: A workshop on dismantling and salvaging materials in a house for redistribution or resale.
Who: Offered by the Hamer Center for Community Design at Penn State University.
When: The workshop is offered in two segments. A participant can sign up for one or both - Jan. 3-7 and Jan. 8-13.
Details: Participants will dismantle a house in Ocean Springs and two or three in East Biloxi. It's free to anyone who wants to participate with equipment and tools provided.
To enroll: Contact Brad Guy at 814-865-5733.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Links to Videos and Pictures

This isn't really a resource, but a great source of information that I'll try to keep current. There's a whole other world out there of people trying to raise awareness! Very cool!

4/19 Sent from Shannon in AL:
3/16 Pat Holt's Trips to Pearlington, MS
3/8 Art and Hope in Biloxi - Video and Pictures
2/21 Biloxi Mardi Gras Photos
2/20 Bay St Louis Photos - very current
2/16 NOAA Katrina Impact Map - interactive. Very cool.
2/1 Gulf Coast News Photo Site
1/31 Buras LA site (from Terra of CAT)
Biloxi Site
Pearlington, MS Pictures
A New Home Through New Hope Construction
December '06 Pictures of Pearlington
1/2 Photos From The Volunteer 1
1/2 Photos From The Volunteer 2
1/2 Photos From The Volunteer 3
1/2 Photos From The Volunteer 4
1/2 Photos From The Volunteer 5

Vidoes - will grow quickly as I collect more.
5/1 - Sent by Jeanne
3/22 Responder Videos - Learning From Katrina I
3/22 Responder Videos - Learning From Katrina II
3/22 Critical Incident Stress Management I - useful NOW
3/22 Critical Incident Stress Management II - useful NOW
3/22 Critical Incident Stress Management Katrina Stories I
3/22 CISM Katrina Stories II
3/18 WWLOX Video of Pearlington Volunteer
3/14 YouTube - Elderly water rescue
3/12 Videos from WLOX - Katrina Kids 2 part series at bottom of WLOX homepage. Go to Special report section of http://www.wlox.com/ for more information
3/3 The Truth About Katrina I
3/3 The Truth About Katrina II
3/3 The Truth About Katrina III
3/3 More Truth of Katrina
3/3 The Oyster Industry Pre and Post Katrina
2/17 - BBC Videos:
If link doesn't work, go to bbc.co.uk and use their search engine for "Katrina". It will bring up audio, video, print articles.
Homeless Hell - Living in Condemned Housing
Homeless In America From Katrina
FEMA Horror Story #3
NOLA Video "City of The Dead"
Reggio AL is Gone
Katrina Flesh Eating Bacteria
Animal Crisis - Focus, NOLA
One Man Helping - Patriot Action
Katrina Survivors 1
Katrina Survivors 2
Katrina Survivors 3
Katrina Survivors 4
Katrina Survivors 5
Katrina Survivors 6
Insurance Companies Fraud with Katrina Survivors
Video Shot By Dartmouth Students

Katrina Survivor Support e-Groups
Moved to Emotional Assistance Page

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Katrina Aid Today

Katrina Aid Today
1720 I St., N.W. Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20006
Toll free: 888-528-5281

(updates below)

Please Remember KATRINA AID TODAY helps those who were DENIED FEMA assistance as well as those who received partial benefits from them.
As long as you're a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, you can register with KATRINA AID TODAY for all types of assistance.
The way they're set us is they have "partners" - churches or nonprofits or groups everywhere. Each case worker is assigned a certain number of volunteers to help them with the cases. Every case worker is usually given 40 cases. Let me tell you from experience -- 40 cases per case worker, even with volunteer assistants, is a lot! These people do become somewhat overwhelmed. However, they're there to help you.
When you speak with someone at KAT and are assigned a case worker, I'm going to give you a few suggestions and tips as to how to get someone to WANT TO HELP YOU:
1. If you keep in mind that this person is getting 100 calls each day from frantic people who are asking for this and that; and maybe this person hasn't been given the proper training to handle the delicate situation of someone who's nerves are totally and completely frazzled having survived and continuing to survive Katrina (YOU); then...
2. Try to speak to that person in a soft, precise and caring way. Tell them you've been through a lot and are happy someone is finally there to help you out. Ask that person if they are having a good day. Ask how many other cases that person is carrying. Ask if they're liking their job. In other words, try talking to them as if they are your "friend." If you want that person to make something happen for you, then they will certainly make something happen for you if they like you. Even though they're getting paid a salary, it's only human nature that people will help people who they like.
After all, we still know how the FEMA reps talked to everyone on the phone. They were completely burnt out, rude, controlling, and didn't care about anyone. They knew they had job security, because in this crisis, who's going to fire them? Although their rude behavior is not right, there simply wasn't/isn't any way to fix the problem. But, you have some control with the people at KATRINA AID TODAY, so try approaching these people a little differently. Perhaps ask them if it's okay for you to call or email him/her if you don't hear from them when you're supposed to.I know what you've all been through, and from my standpoint, if I were you, I would EXPECT them to pretty much kiss my *whatever* -
BUT if you're gracious, they will be gracious. If you're angry, they won't return your calls.They have a lot of resources that can help many of you here. They will pay for an electric bill, or rent, or gas for your car, or a class, or send you to get clothes somewhere -- they can do all that and more.
So, if you haven't contacted KAT - do so immediately!

4/20 Notes from Jim Jim Cox

This month Katrina Aid Today’s newsletter will focus on “care for the caregivers.” The Katrina Aid Today program has over 673 paid case managers actively advocating for and helping to repair the lives of those impacted by Katrina. For over a year now they have helped to empower over 40,000 families during their road to recovery. Their commitment and dedication for
the clients is unparalleled. Often many have been asked to learn and adapt to a disaster case management model and they have done that will enthusiasm and grace. In some areas the country case managers carry a case load that stretches their capacity and requires their all. Those case managers (including volunteers) are the heart of our work around the country.

Many have now been working for over a year as advocates for their clients in a very intense environment. Many of those committed to helping others face their own personal struggles as a result of Katrina. Carrying the burden of recovery for oneself and that of another can be trying. We continue to advocate with and on behalf of our partners to keep the health of the case
managers as a priority. We hope that our partners will review the
information within the newsletter for ideas on how to support our case managers.

In a recent summary of those clients who completed the Client Satisfaction Survey at the closure of their experience with Katrina Aid Today, 98% of respondents said that Katrina Aid Today’s local staff and case workers are courteous and professional. The voice the clients themselves confirms what we have known for some time—case managers are invested and committed to repairing the lives of those impacted by Katrina.

Please take the time to take care of yourself. We still have a long road to helping those recover and the clients will need you healthy and well to support them through their recovery. If it hasn’t been said recently, we are happy to say it now: Thank you.

Jim Cox
Executive Director, Katrina Aid Today

“Care for the Caregiver” Tips

Understanding the importance of “care for the caregiver,” National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) has published a new resource that addresses the critical importance of emotional and spiritual care to disaster responders and recovery workers. Light Our Way: A Guide for Spiritual Care in Times of Disaster includes “standards of best practice” and shares ideas and resources to encourage care of those who care for others in times of disaster and recovery.

A selection from Light Our Way: “Some tips to mitigate Compassion Fatigue on the personal level include:

* Pamper yourself, you deserve it!
* Listen to some music.
* Keep a journal.
* Eat regular well-balance meals (even if you don’t feel like it).
* Exercise; get fresh air.
* Meditate or pray.
* Reach out to other people.
* Get plenty of rest.
* It’s OK not to feel OK. Let others know how you feel.
* Be aware that overuse of alcohol only numbs feelings, it doesn’t take them away.”

Light Our Way is an excellent resource for Katrina Aid Today program managers and case managers. To find out how to get a copy of NVOAD’s Light Our Way, contact NVOAD at

3/7 The beginning of 2007 has ushered in many changes for Katrina Aid Today. Last month, our staff said farewell to Warren Harrity who resigned his position as Executive Director to continue his career in Foreign Service with the US Agency for International Development. Warren’s tireless energy and commitment have been greatly appreciated by UMCOR and the Katrina Aid Today consortium; we wish him and his family all the best.
I have recently been honored with the opportunity to lead this vital initiative by serving as Executive Director. Having worked on this program from day one, I am committed to investing in partnership with consortium members to address the needs of families impacted by Katrina. This commitment is shared by UMCOR and the Katrina Aid Today staff in Washington.
As we approach the milestone of 40,000 families served, one must believe those families have a greater outlook on life than they did one year ago. Although this is a testament to great work carried out across the country, there are challenges ahead.
As a consortium, we need to improve collaboration in order to reach families that are still in need, continue to advocate on behalf of our clients for additional resources, and we must remember to support each case worker who is giving 100% each day for their clients—for they are an inspiration.
Thank you all for your support and partnership as we move forward with Katrina Aid Today.
Jim Cox Executive Director,
Katrina Aid Today

On February 7, 2007, long time UMCOR associate Jim Cox assumed the role of Executive Director of Katrina Aid Today. Prior to roles with Katrina Aid Today, Jim was executive director of UMCOR’s international division. He served four years in the Caucasus region managing multi-sector relief and development programs. He specializes in program design and implementation with countries in post-conflict settings. Jim has an M.A. in International Politics and Economics from the University of Detroit and he serves as a country specialist for Amnesty International.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Trip

I'll be posting the information from Gary, who traveled from DC to the Coast for Christmas. He's playing Santa, so I figured it might be worth while to post his updates as I get them.

It was a very quiet night despite all the rain. I didn't hear any calls at least. (He was running calls for local fire department) There have been several calls for trees down. One call involved a tree down with wires on top of FEMA trailers. A call just came out for a tree down blocking the door to a FEMA trailer. There is lots of dead wood around as I have tried to show you.

The strip of US 90 is very narrow. It's just a few hundered yards between shorelines. I looked this area up on Goggle Earth from a perspective of approximately 1,000 feet. In many areas there was vegetation and scrub trees typical of a barrier reef. Now there is basically nothing!!!!
There are still boats that floated up and got deposited on or next to the road. Here and there is a container that floated and got deposited. There are many remains of piers that go out from nothing.
Many of these beach houses were lavish and year round homes. A few are being rebuilt particularly around Fort Pike. It really is beyond description. I took a few pictures but it was raining rather hard and difficult to get a good picture. I promise to up load them soon. If you do the Goggle Earth thing Fort Pike is readily recognizable by the triple arch bridge.
It appears that Fort Pike FD is operating out of someone's home. They have an engine that West Hancock gave them - another example of regifting.
East of Fort Pike is pretty much the same as west of Fort Pike - destroyed property to the left and right. Once in a while a place being fixed up. It's pretty desolate. There are a couple of large buildings that I am guessing were fish processing facilties. I can't tell off hand if they are being fixed up or not.

There is little business open along 603 still. The Exxon station at the interchange is open or about to open but not open at night. There is a Firestone tire store just north of the cutoff that is new. K-Mart opened just in time for Christmas litterally days before. There could be more but it was dark and I wasn't able to tell.

The ride down from Waveland was uneventful except the Alligator sign has been replaced with a sign for the Silver Slipper Casino. The sign is the boundry between Bayside and West Hancock fire departments. Just past that you enter the buffer zone and its quite dark until you hit the outskirts of Pearlington. The aligator mada great land mark and was cool to talk about. Li attention West Hancock there is a report of an accident near the alligator sign. It just isn't as cool to say there is an accident in front of the big slipper. Change is so hard to get used too.

In Pearlington,there is somewhere between is 300 - 500 people in town. Pre storm was about 1200 +/- . A few homes have been rebuilt a few are in the process of being rebuilt. A hand ful or so were being rebuilt but have stop orders on them from the county. The Presbryterian Camp has been empty but I saw one or two folks running around the camp today. They have funky plastic blue and white shelters that sit on pallets. I have been in them once or twice and seem kind of comfy but they would need a heater right now to live in. They also need a bathroom if I was going to use it but I digress. Post office and bank are still not rebuilt. The Presbryterian Camp may be closed the end of January so a community center can be built.

I drove over New Orleans Sunday - litterally. The I 10 express way is raised and above the city so you get a different perspective. This is non scientific, but when I drove over here from Florida I passed through the panhandle which got hit so hard the year before. Both places still had lots of blue tarps on roofs. I think there was a more concentrated number of tarps in Florida, but probably more over all in New Orleans. A number of buildings looked like they were ready to collapse.The only time I was at ground level was when I was on the West Bank. You will recall, that the West Bank did not have the flooding like the downtown and Lakefront areas. Accodring to Gina, the small town of Westwego is getting its fair share of bad elements out of the city. This is causing great stress on the police officers. She knows of one who had to quit due to stress. To get a feel of what it was really like I drove through the eastern section of New Orleans going down Crowder Street to US 90 and east from there.

On the way back from Westwego, I stopped at a store on the corner of Crowder to get a soda. The store is a vey interesting collection of merchandise. Licquor, soft drinks and typical licquor store items, cell phones and accessories, fried chicken (tastey and fresh). There was also Asian food available. They guy selling cell phone stuff tried to hit me up to buy some sort of crap but I didn't pay him no mind. I did get two chicken legs and ate them outside under the awning.

Along Crowder it appeared that most homes had a FEMA trailer in the driveway, but the house seemed intact from the outside. These are modern brick homes and probably had mortgages. The trip east on US 90 (Chef Monture Hwy) was interesting. This runs close to the shore line. Further east along US 90 buildings were in all sorts of conditions. Some were wiped out some were under reconstruction some had trailers in front of them. At one point I realized I was following a National Guard hummer and it took a moment to register that this was a poilice unit not just a jive hummer running down the street.

There is an area there where you cross a small seawall blocking the road. Once inside the flood wall or sea wall things get pretty rough. I have no idea what used to be out here but practically nothing is out here now. It is very earrie driving out in that area. The area is probably about 20 miles long. The triple bridge at Fort Pike seemed like the mid point and is 11 miles from Pearlington.

Hi gang,

I delivered the stuff to Kathleen (in Hancock County) around 5:00 PM tonight. Caroyln was supposed to meet me there but was running late as is typical. For once I was on time more or less.

The trip went well except getting out of DC was rough. I also got stuck just before getting on the interstane in Charlottsville. It took me over an hour to get a mile or mile and a half.

I bought a tarp in Madison, VA and it took me a while to figure out how to get it on and strap it down. Having all sizes of straps is nice but not very many of any one size leads to creative tarping.

Thank you Dayle for your support yesterday. Anyway I found the hotel in Tennessee around 9:30. By the time I got in and settled it was almost 11.

The wake up was for 6:30 but it was 7:30 by the time I got out of bed and moving around. I think I was on the road by 8:45 or so after getting fuel.

I made it to Birmingham but didn't realize I had an office and a warehouse address and made a wrong turn while going to the office. It took a few 'counter turns' to get to the warehouse. The guys thought I was dropping stuff off and starting taking my stuff inside. Oh well!!!

Again it took a while to tie everything down. I was out before noon and called Kathleen to let her know I was on my way. I called so many people that I lost track. I took a short cut down 43 from Picyaune to the Kiln instead of going all the way down 59 to I 10 and in to Waveland.

I met Kathleen. Well actually she passed me on Central Ave and just about that time the phone rang. I naturally thought it was her but it was Robb calling about the microwave. Now I was totally confused and pulled up to Kathlen and said who are you?

They have a nice warehose there that sits on a hump. While everything else for miles around got flooded, the warehouse had 18 inches of water. She had spent the day in New Orleans and had a function to go to but stayed to chat with me while waiting for Carolyn to show up.

I need to go back and talk to Kathleen because she may be able to help a friend of mine or at least get her hooked up with a case worker in Jackson.

Carolyn called and I made new arrangements to meet her outside town so Kathleen could go about her business but we will hook up again next week. When Carolyn saw what the cards and books were she was quite excited. They are a very hot item with kids of all ages. I don't know who or what they are but she knew all the charachters and what they looked like etc. I still can't stay the name. Bottom line it went over big with her and should be a good thing for her clients.

I got to the firehouse here at Pearlington about 6:30.

Well I'm dead tired and ready to sleep but I drew the couch and have to wait for everyone else to settle down.

Dayle thanks again. It was fun talking to California and driving in VA/TN. Leslie glad your eye is doing better and it sounds like you and your sis are having fun.

Good night everyone and thanks for everything.

I have talked to Gina and got directions to her house. It shows up on my GPS so there shouldn't be any trouble going there.

12/24 - 11:30AM
Just back from my first call. An auto wreck (I mentioned they were popular. I don't know how, but a Ford p/u and a Red Durango tangled left side to left side. Both sustained heavy front end damage with the p/u in the ditch buried to the fender. No injuries though. I was awake but not up and fumbled getting up. By the time I got outside four pieces were running so I didn't get to drive:

I really am nervous about these kids driving but I got in the Squad and just kept yelling slow down. Its nice to get out with a lot of equipment but nicer if there are people in the equipment too.

Everyone down here has a dry cough which makes me nervous as hell and I don't get parnoid usually. Quck down and dirty observation, down at the FEMA trailer park near the port I didn't see one Chritsmas decoration.

I stopped in and said a very quick hi and Merry Christmas to Mr. Al at Hancock Water and Sewer yesterday. I'm probably the last person he expected to see.

Pam (@ BSL FD) got the task of making personnel decisions and has become very unpopular over it. Apparantley some of the personnel she is recommending have less then 3 years on the department and I guess that's a criteria for promotion.

There was a second article and it was more lor less the chief defending her. He gave her an unpopular job and she handled it. Promotions always cause grief. There were also some demotions which is bound to cause more grief. With the Bay annex, the fire department needs to cover the expansion.

I don't know what is driving the fire department expansion because that area was covered by East Hancock Volunteers. I guess they will be forced out.

Its a little chilly but not too bad. I have ot shave and head over to Nawlins to play Santa Claus.

12/24 6:45PM
Its hard to express the joy and happiness I am feeling right now. I have traveled over 1,000 miles in two days and delivered a microwave oven, medical supplies, over 180 collector cards in tins and some personal items to one person on the Real People list.

My person lives outside of New Orleans next to the Mississippi River levee. Her home was messed up in the storm and she is surviving well with a teen age girl and boy in the house they are renting. Gifts included a George Foreman grill, a large roaster pan, silverware, cookie sheets, Christmas ornaments, a service of 8 of plates and coffee mugs, and other goods. I have never seen an adult so excited over gifts at Christmas.

Her only comment was "effervescent". That was how she described her feelings. She said she was going to dance on the table after I left (think Snoopy Happy Dance).

The system worked well. There were many people on the list but I know that this one had a very Merry Christmas!!!

12/25 6PM
Typical holiday - eat big dinner / take big nap.

Susan of Hands on just called again to find out what I was working on. I guess people are a little surprised that someone comes down to be an emergency responder. Everyone is fooled easily into thinking thnigs are ok. Trucks go out on calls so there must be crews. No one takes a haed count to realize there is only one person per truck and manpower is challanged. Anyway, I suddenly get the feeling that relief groups are looking for projects.

Nancy Lemarie of Disaster Corps stopped by too. Rumor has it the Prespbryterians are going yot lose there camp come January. Other than the gas leak early this morning we had a medical run down at the FEMA trailer camp next to Port Bienville. It was very crowded in there. The door to the bedroom would not open because the bed was in the way. The hallway was cramped with a washer and dryer there. I can see trying to get up in an emergency and fighitng the door. The fire extinguisher was emptied.

There are 9 people here plus a new grandbaby people have to fuss over in loud tones. I'm getting a headache. (here is West Hancock Volunteer Fire and Rescue)

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Friday, December 22, 2006

New Scam

Katrina victims awaiting money from the LRA need to be on the lookout for a scam that promises to speed up the process, according to the FBI.
James Bernazzani, the local FBI Chief says the scam works like this: People receive a call or an e-mail identifying the sender as a U.S. federal employee with the Grant Processing Office and they are told they can receive an interest-free advance on their LRA money as long as they promise to pay it back when the money comes in.
For a fee of about $299 the group will send them a check for thousands of dollars. Bernazzani says the catch is that there is no Grant Processing Office. He said what is worse is that victims are asked to cover the $299 fee by giving their credit card number, which then gives the con artist access to drain their account.
"Basically they have stolen your identity," he said. "They'll run up the charges on your credit card and bleed the money out of your bank account."
According to Bernazzani, the scam has already nabbed some local people, though he couldn't give specific numbers.
He also said a similar scam, known as phishing, is also siphoning off funds. He said that kind of scam comes when an e-mail is sent from what looks to be a legitimate bank or financial institution.
The e-mail often says that there is a problem with that person's account and that the should go to a web site and provide information to have it fixed. Once again, Bernazzani says the con artists get access to your vital information.
"The problem is that it's not the bank and when you provide that banking information, they've stolen your identity and they've bled the account."
Bernazzani says you shouldn't respond to any request for personal information that you didn't solicit yourself.

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Charitable Giving Report for MS

New charities report published
The Clarion-Ledger
Secretary of State Eric Clark today announced the publication of the ninth annual comprehensive financial report on charities operating in Mississippi, the first to contain initial financial information on charitable giving since Hurricane Katrina.
"Mississippians always rank near the top nationally for generosity," Clark said. "This report is a great tool for those who want to give wisely as well as generously. It also sends the clear signal that the Secretary of State's Office will carefully examine the financial records of every single Katrina-related charity to ensure the law is followed and all donations are accounted for."
Copies of the report are available from the Secretary of State's Office by calling 601-359-6344 or 800-256-3494. There is no charge for single copies to individuals, Clark said.
The complete report is available on the Secretary of State's website at www.sos.state.ms.us. This year a supplemental report on Katrina charities is being published separately. Clark 's office reports that 76 charities registered after the hurricane to provide relief to Katrina victims. Eighteen previously registered charities expanded their mission to include Katrina relief. In all, 55 Katrina-related charities are based in Mississippi.
Mississippi ranks No. 2 in the nation this year on the "Generosity Index" compiled by the Catalogue for Philanthropy in Boston . Arkansas ranks #1 this year. Over the past ten years, Mississippi has ranked #1 eight times. The ranking is based on the percentage of income given to church and charity in each state."
Mississippians practice Southern hospitality and take seriously the Biblical injunction to love thy neighbor as thyself," Clark said.
"The ranking proves that."

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By Dorothy Rowley
AFRO Staff Writer
More than a year after Katrina ravaged New Orleans, its surrounding locales and parts of coastal Mississippi, residents remain hard pressed to move on with their lives.
The country's worst hurricane sent more than one million people fleeing from their homes——and in the process, effected the largest migration of Americans since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, according to a recent National Public Radio (NPR) report. Though many Katrina victims have relocated, they are currently living in rented homes——in stark contrast to the life of homeownership to which they had become accustomed. The report further states that many among the dislocated are households that have at least one child to care for and are sustaining themselves on monthly incomes of less than $500.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in August that despite an outpouring of billions of dollars in federal funding, as well as support from church and private organizations and teams of volunteers, that many Katrina victims have yet to rebound.
Jobs remain scarce, schools remain closed and places of worship that lost half of their memberships, have little hope of continuing. Katrina's impact also lent itself to destruction that stretched across 90,000 square miles; and it is estimated that some 500,000 people may need mental health assistance to deal with high rates of anxiety, depression and hostility.
"Katrina was a tragedy in itself," Pelosi said during the August news conference in a mold-infested New Orleans neighborhood. "
But it exposed a tragedy of greater proportions. Some people in this region have lost the spirit of their forefathers——the work ethic, the persistence, the determination to overcome adversity."
Reportedly, as of this past fall, about 1,500 evacuees had relocated to Washington, D.C. Baltimore social services personnel however, were uncertain of the numbers that flocked to Charm City. Added to that, there is no national data base for keeping up with Katrina evacuees and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) only maintains a list of addresses for households, rather than individuals, receiving assistance.
"I have no idea about the number of evacuees in Baltimore, as we no longer keep a list. Many who came to the area didn't go to social services for various reasons," said Sue Fitzsimmons, a Baltimore city social services department spokesperson.
As for ongoing efforts at assistance, Fitzsimnons said there's nothing specific she knows of in the Baltimore area aimed at evacuees. While she pointed out that eligible people could still go to social services for help, Fitzsimmons added that the agency has "had people who came to us off and on who meet the criteria for assistance."
Fiztsimmons said the state of Maryland had an earlier effort, where it would essentially "man" the plane loads of evacuees who sought housing. But, said Fitzsimmons, "We never got the plane or bus loads of people we were expecting."
A report distributed a few months ago, titled, "A Continuing Storm," tracked the whereabouts of Katrina victims. Conducted by the Appleseed Foundation, a non profit pro bon legal network with chapters across the country, the report found that most of the 700,000 or so evacuees were doing well in host cities that include Atlanta, Birmingham, Ala., Houston and San Antonio, Tx., and Baton Rouge, La. The report further states that about 40 percent of evacuees had returned to their homes in New Orleans.
The American Red Cross says it continues to help Katrina victims through its Hurricane Recovery Program (HRP) by providing emotional support, help finding vital information and meeting their ongoing needs. According to the agency, more than 90 percent of the resources donated through publicly administered proceeds for victims of both hurricanes Katrina and Rita were dispersed directly following the storms for basic needs that included food, clothing and shelter. The remaining 10 percent funding according to the Red Cross, continues to provide services through the HRP.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Another Infection To Think About

12/22 A Video on the Crisis with animals in NOLA, but accurate for all of coast

With all of the rain the area has been getting, AND the well documented rat infestations, I thought it might be wise to post this. Cases seem to be rare in the US, but again, that was before such massive infestations occured.

All of the following is taken from the link associated with the title of this page...

What is leptospirosis?Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. In humans it causes a wide range of symptoms, and some infected persons may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or a rash. If the disease is not treated, the patient could develop kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, and respiratory distress. In rare cases death occurs. Many of these symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases. Leptospirosis is confirmed by laboratory testing of a blood or urine sample.

How do people get leptospirosis? Outbreaks of leptospirosis are usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals. Many different kinds of animals carry the bacterium; they may become sick but sometimes have no symptoms. Leptospira organisms have been found in cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals. Humans become infected through contact with water, food, or soil containing urine from these infected animals. This may happen by swallowing contaminated food or water or through skin contact, especially with mucosal surfaces, such as the eyes or nose, or with broken skin. The disease is not known to be spread from person to person.

How long is it between the time of exposure and when people become sick? The time between a person's exposure to a contaminated source and becoming sick is 2 days to 4 weeks. Illness usually begins abruptly with fever and other symptoms. Leptospirosis may occur in two phases; after the first phase, with fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea, the patient may recover for a time but become ill again. If a second phase occurs, it is more severe; the person may have kidney or liver failure or meningitis. This phase is also called Weil's disease. The illness lasts from a few days to 3 weeks or longer. Without treatment, recovery may take several months.

Where is leptospirosis found? Leptospirosis occurs worldwide but is most common in temperate or tropical climates. It is an occupational hazard for many people who work outdoors or with animals, for example, farmers, sewer workers, veterinarians, fish workers, dairy farmers, or military personnel. It is a recreational hazard for campers or those who participate in outdoor sports in contaminated areas and has been associated with swimming, wading, and whitewater rafting in contaminated lakes and rivers. The incidence is also increasing among urban children.

How is leptospirosis treated? Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics, such as doxycycline or penicillin, which should be given early in the course of the disease. Intravenous antibiotics may be required for persons with more severe symptoms. Persons with symptoms suggestive of leptospirosis should contact a health care provider.

Can leptospirosis be prevented? The risk of acquiring leptospirosis can be greatly reduced by not swimming or wading in water that might be contaminated with animal urine.Protective clothing or footwear should be worn by those exposed to contaminated water or soil because of their job or recreational activities.

And what led me to this was an article in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal from the CDC:
"Leptospirosis is an epidemic-prone zoonotic bacterial disease that can be transmitted by direct contact with contaminated water. Rodents shed large amounts of leptospires in their urine, and transmission occurs through contact of the skin and mucous membranes with water, damp soil or vegetation (such as sugar cane), or mud contaminated with rodent urine. Flooding facilitates spread of the organism because of the proliferation of rodents and the proximity of rodents to humans on shared high ground. Outbreaks of leptospirosis occurred in Taiwan, Republic of China, associated with Typhoon Nali in 2001 (27); in Mumbai, India, after flooding in 2000 (28); in Argentina after flooding in 1998 (29); and in the Krasnodar region of the Russian Federation in 1997 (30). After a flooding-related outbreak of leptospirosis in Brazil in 1996, spatial analysis indicated that incidence rates of leptospirosis doubled inside the flood-prone areas of Rio de Janeiro (31)."

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Family Grants, LLC

Family Grants, LLC, is the administrator of the Positive Alternatives Down Payment Gift Program. Positive Alternatives is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Its tax ID # is 87-0501592.
The Positive Alternatives Family Grants Down Payment Gift Program provides gift money nationwide to low to moderate income homebuyers, which can be used to pay for their down payment and/or closing costs. The program meets the guidelines for providing gifts for FHA-insured loans as set forth in the HUD Handbook 4155.1 Rev 4, CNG 1, Chapter 2 Section 3C.The Gifts Do Not Have To Be Repaid!
To receive gift funds, the buyer must:
1) Qualify for a home loan that will accept our charitable contribution.
2) Purchase a home from a builder or a seller who is willing to participate in our program. Positive Alternatives has been providing temporary housing and support to those in need of housing since its inception in 1992. The organization also provides positive alternatives to people recovering from addictions, compulsions, dysfunctions and lifestyles that are counter to a healthy, happy life.
Positive Alternatives received its tax-exempt status in May 1993.
Questions regarding The Family Grants Gift Program should be directed to the Administrator's office at:
Family Grants, LLC
28740 US Hwy 98 Suite 14
Daphne, Alabama 36526
Phone: 251-625-8666
E-mail: info@familygrants.com
To learn more about how the Family Grants Gift Program works, click here.

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Katrina Project Play

From Janet:
The Katrina Project: Hell and High Water
Posted Aug 8th 2006 11:21AM by TMZ Staff
It has been almost a year since hurricane Katrina tragically displaced nearly 750,000 households. Those displaced are still suffering in cities across the United States as they attempt to adjust to new lives in new communities.
The stories of the victims are now being told in the play "The KatrinaProject: Hell and High Water". (http://www.tigerforensics.org/)
Co-creators Mackenzie Westmoreland and Michael Marks interviewed dozens of survivors to collect stories for the play. They also collected facts from magazines like Time, Newsweek and US News and World Report. With that information and stories they crafted "The Katrina Project," a play that showcases the desperation, anger, fear and hope of those directly affected by the storm.
Response to the play has been overwhelming. It won Best Play at Mississippi's State Theater Festival and has sold out its first benefit show. The play is now scheduled for a run at the (in)famous Ford Theater in Washington, D.C. and the Tada Theater for Youth in New York. Donations are taken at every performance for Mississippi's Hurricane Relief Fund http://www.mississippirecovery.com/

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Answering The Ignorant

Friday, December 08, 2006
Bob Marshall
The nice lady -- a friend of a friend -- was shocked and angered by my statement, which went something like this: "The way New Orleans has been treated since Katrina is one of the most shameful episodes in our nation's history."
A patriot, she wasn't about to let that stand. "What about all the money we've spent down there?" she asked. "And what about accepting some responsibility for building in a flood zone, and not having insurance?"
I wish I could say I was surprised, but recent travels had already shown me that most Americans are woefully ignorant of the ugly facts on the ground here in The Big Uneasy. My concern now is that as my fellow New Orleanians hit the road during the busy holiday travel season they may be stunned into silence -- if not apoplexy -- by the questions and statements of the misinformed masses. So here's a package of talking points.
Isn't flooding what you should expect when living in a hurricane zone? The flooding inside the city limits was not a natural disaster, but a man-made disaster. The hurricane protection system built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was poorly designed, constructed and maintained by that agency, a part of our national government. The system was never built as high as we were told, and it failed due to faulty engineering. Katrina's storm tides didn't come close to reaching the tops of the walls, and never would have. This is not my opinion. This was the judgment of the corps after its year-long, $10 million in-house investigation. The corps said "our fault" -- yet Congress has not responded to that confession.
Didn't Congress agree to pay for the damage? Only a small portion of it. The corps' failures resulted in the destruction of 200,000 homes and businesses at values estimated to surpass $100 billion, yet Congress has appropriated only about $10 billion to rebuild homes.
Well, is it our fault they didn't have any insurance -- or enough insurance? That's like saying a man killed by robbers was at fault for not wearing a bullet-proof vest. You're blaming the victims. Insurance is for natural disasters, acts of God and self-inflicted damage such as fires. This is not a no-fault case. The corps -- part of the U.S. government -- has already accepted it was at fault. Fairness means the nation should pay for completely rebuilding those homes. Insurance shouldn't be a consideration. That's what the nation has always done in the past.
Remember the savings and loan disaster? Congress accepted responsibility for allowing that industry to run amok, and spent $178 billion to protect the savings of millions of people.
Remember 9/11? Just five days after that tragedy Congress had passed and President Bush signed a $15 billion bailout for the airline industry, then paid billions to the 9/11 victims.
What about federal flood insurance? We subsidize that to the tune of billions. Why should we do that in a hurricane zone? You're right. The nation shouldn't subsidize environmentally stupid development. But if we're going to start that policy, we must inaugurate it simultaneously coast-to-coast. So when we yank flood insurance from south Louisiana, we also will stop it for Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg,. Jacksonville, Washington, D.C, and New York City, not to mention Houston, Gulfport and the rest of the Gulf. And while we're at it, we will stop paying for earthquakes in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Alaska. And what about those people living in tornado alley? Why should we encourage them to rebuild year after year?
What about this Road Home Program? I see people getting money to rebuild. I've seen your politicians thank Congress. They have been groveling for crumbs -- and that has hurt us more than helped us. Here's an example that is typical. I have a friend who owned a $200,000 home in Lakeview. He had $14,000 left on his mortgage, and only $40,000 of flood insurance because it had never flooded. He might end up with $100,000 from Road Home. So he pays off his old mortgage and spends another $15,000 having his home torn down. But the builder says it will cost $325,000 to rebuild the same size house. So, at 55, he will have a $250,000, 30-year mortgage. He may never be able to retire. He's left in this situation after the richest nation in the world admitted it destroyed his home -- but refuses to pay for the damage. And he's lucky. There are many retired people who can't get the $300,000 mortgage to rebuild their homes destroyed by an agency of the government. They'll spend their remaining days in small FEMA trailers.
Why isn't anyone telling us this? They have. But you haven't cared enough to pressure Congress to do the right thing.
That's why I call this one of the most shameful episodes in American history.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

1/4% Will Max FEMA Help

From WBAL in Baltimore
"The government has not worked out a way so people can rebuild their homes. It's taking way too long," he said.
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin said less than 1 percent of the uninsured have received federal recovery money. He estimated that administrative costs average $30,000 per grant applicant.

From the Washington Post through Janet

Dec. 3, 2006 at 3:51PM Fewer than 4,700 families will reach a $26,200 cap on disaster assistance following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the U.S. government says.
The figure amounts to fewer than one-fourth of 1 percent of the 2.6million households that applied for disaster aid. The aid program is set to expire in March, when an 18-month statutory cutoff takes effect, the Federal Emergency Management Agency says.
The figures are surprising, anti-poverty advocates say, given the storms' scope, the incomplete reconstruction of New Orleans and the demographic profile of evacuees, who were generally poorer and less well-insured than other Americans, The Washington Post reports.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition, a housing-advocacy group, is pushing to extend the 18-month federal limit on aid, lift the $26,200 cap and expand a Department of Housing and Urban Development disaster program, as advocates for the poor want.
FEMA Director R. David Paulison defended FEMA's efforts.
"We felt like we did a good job," he said, adding FEMA helped morepeople than it ever has despite overwhelmed systems, huge work volumes and pressure to fight victim fraud.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

International Volunteer Day

New York, Dec 5 2006 11:00AM
The United Nations today honoured the tens of thousands of volunteers from both developing and industrialized countries who over the past 35 years have supported the Organization’s peace, relief and development initiatives around the planet, as well as the millions of others who daily offer their humanitarian services.
“Their ethos makes volunteerism one of the most visible, and most welcome, attributes of global citizenship,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan
said in a message marking International Volunteer Day. “In ways both big and small, volunteers are transforming their communities and our world. “And in this era of growing problems without passports, from HIV/AIDS to trafficking in people and contraband, they are providing grass-roots solutions to humanity’s most pressing needs.” Mr. Annan stressed the importance of volunteers in helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goals http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals, the targets set by the UN World Summit of 2000 to halve extreme poverty and hunger, ensure universal primary education, slash child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters and reverse the incidence of HIV/AIDS, as well as tackle a host of other social ills – all by 2015.
“Each day, millions of volunteers make a statement that despite everything – despite poverty and hatred, despite apathy and the seeming intractability of some of the challenges we face ¬– people can change the world for the better,” he said. The UN’s own volunteer programme http://www.unvolunteers.org was created by the General Assembly in 1970 to serve as an operational partner in development cooperation at the request of UN Member States. It is administered by the UN Development Programme http://www.undp.org and works through UNDP country offices around the world. In 2005, its eighth consecutive year of growth, UNV mobilized some 8,400 volunteers, representing 168 nationalities, who served in 144 countries. Since 1971, more than 30,000 UN Volunteers have supported humanitarian efforts. Since its adoption by the General Assembly in 1985,

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Skin Infections On The Rise

Staph infection may cause lesions - Common bacteria becoming resistant
HANCOCK COUNTY - It's far too soon to know for sure, but some doctors and researchers believe a superbug - possibly mixed with something else - is causing skin lesions and sores to pop up on Katrina-relief volunteers and some locals.
Harris Evans, who practices internal medicine in Long Beach, said the lesions could be signs of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a type of staph infection that has become increasingly common in South Mississippi.
The common bacterium that causes staph infections usually lives on the skin or in the nose and it gets into the body through a cut or medical incision.
Evans said the reason more volunteers could be complaining about the infections is because of the type of relief work they are doing - building and repairing houses and removing debris - puts them at risk for cuts or scrapes.
"You're not going to prevent it," Evans said. "But, cleanliness is next to godliness and the thing that's saved more lives than anything else is a bath."
There are two main strains of MRSA, both of which have become resistant to conventional antibiotics. They usually require hospitalization and can be treated only with extremely powerful medications. Experts say eventually those medications are going to lose their punch, too.
Mohamed Elasri, assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi, leads a research team that recently identified a previously unknown gene that can be manipulated in a way to trick staph cells into thinking the time is not right to release toxins.
Evans and Elasri agreed that treating all staph infections as MRSA - by giving patients the powerful drugs - from the beginning can be an effective way to combat the affliction.
"It's a 50 percent chance, nowadays, that the type of staph a patient has is MRSA and most physicians treat all staph infections as MRSA right from the beginning," Elasri said. "Unfortunately, now that everyone is treated as having MRSA, eventually the staph will develop a resistance to that treatment, too, and it's a vicious cycle."
Staph infections can be as minor as skin lesions or as severe as life-threatening bloodstream disorders; Elasri said each case is different.
"If it's a young man in good health, they're more likely to do OK," he said. "As opposed to someone in his mid-60s; those are the people who bear the brunt of the worst-case scenarios."
Ken Flint, a 63-year-old St. Martin resident, said he's battled the itchy lesions three times since May, and the most recent time, about four weeks ago, was the worst.
The state Department of Health has collected evidence from volunteers working in and around Hancock County and Lovetta Brown, the state's epidemiologist, is working with the Centers for Disease Control to determine the culprit.

If you want to know more about keeping the camps clean and yourself clean while volunteering, please read the following:

Video of skin infection

I've been hearing increasing reports of skin infections. It doesn't appear to be the true flesh eating bacteria, but rather, a very resistant form of staph.

These staph infections are known in the biz as MRSA - Methcillin Resistant Staphaloccocus Aureus. Not that I spelled any of that right, but you get the idea.

MRSA loves to live in dirt and appears to prefer men - mainly because men don't wash as well as women.

Canada has done an incredible job of dealing with MRSA, while the US is lagging behind in a woeful manner - particularly when you consider the cost of treating it and the lingering affects.
I would like to think the CDC is investigating this, but I have yet to see anything come out on the MMWR or the emerging infectious diseases reports.

Here's a quote from the CDC: "MRSA infections that are acquired by persons who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, catheters) are know as CA-MRSA infections. Staph or MRSA infections in the community are usually manifested as skin infections, such as pimples and boils, and occur in otherwise healthy people."

Also from the CDC:
How can I prevent staph or MRSA skin infections?
Practice good hygiene:
Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.

I have most of this covered in a post about avoiding infectious diseases:
Another article - excerpts from the CDC - very dry, but very informative, on personal protective equipment that will help you avoid infection as well:

So, basically, you have to be VERY careful. With an already strained health care system, and with an environment completely out of balance, you need to protect yourself every way possible.

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Coats for Kids - Southern Miss

Donation boxes are located in various South Mississippi locations including:
- All Cellular South locations www.cellularsouth.com for locations
- All People's Bank locations www.peoples.com for locations
- Singing River Mall - 2800 Hwy 90, Gautier, MS 39553 or call 228.497.6160
- WLOX-TV - 208 DeBuys Road, Biloxi, MS 39531 or call 228.896.1313

Will be accepting coats until 12/12

Foreign Journalists Astounded

Foreign journalists' jaws drop Devastation surprises them
PASS CHRISTIAN - As a journalist for German television, Otto Deppe traversed the state in 1998, recording everything from blues to the sandy beaches while making a documentary. That was during a "boom time," he said, when construction along the Coast was thriving.
On Friday, the 69-year-old returned, but to a world of contrast. "All this is now different," he said, scanning empty lots filled with debris and FEMA trailers aligning East Second Street in the Pass. He likened the devastation to what he saw in Germany after World War II. But this, he said with a shrug, "was all done by a hurricane."
Deppe and 18 other foreign journalists from Austria, Germany, England, the Netherlands, Ireland, United Kingdom and Belgium toured the Pass with Rep. Diane Peranich, D-DeLisle, in an effort to show the world how Katrina also destroyed the Mississippi Coast, not just New Orleans.
Many people "didn't know there was a Mississippi story," said Steve Richer of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor's Bureau. He said the visitors would tour Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties during their four days here.
The 19 reporters and photographers are the biggest group of international journalists to come to the Coast since the storm hit, Richer said.
"Thank you for coming," Peranich said, hugging each visitor as they stepped off the bus, then escorting them toward Pass Christian library manager Sally James' FEMA trailer.
"All of this," Peranich said, gesturing with open arms, "was under water."
John Costello, a features writer for the Evening Herald in Ireland, said his jaw dropped when he saw the destruction.
"It's just hard to comprehend," he said. "I just can't imagine the pain and suffering (in) trying to live your everyday life."
One aspect that impressed him, however, was the residents' unity, spirit and how they are, simply, "real" people. Europeans, he said, often associate Americans as shallow, and having a "white teeth, big smile, 'Have a nice day'
" mentality.
Mississippians, he said, were different. "They pause to let a tear roll down" their cheek, Costello said.

Fire Safety Articles

Dale Urges Heating Appliance Safety During Cold Weather
From: Office of the State Fire Marshall Filed 12/01/06
With severe cold weather forecast this week, Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal George Dale today urged citizens to exercise caution when using portable heating devices. Mississippi is among the leading states in the nation in fire deaths, averaging between 85 and 95 deaths a year.
"During any period of cold weather I urge all Mississippians to use extreme caution with any portable heating device," said Dale.The State Fire Marshal's Office cautions everyone with heating appliances to only use UL (Underwriters Laboratory) approved appliances as recommended by the manufacturers. The State Fire Marshal's Office also strongly discourages the use of candles as heating devices.
Everyone is encouraged to have and use working smoke detectors in the home. Be sure to replace batteries at least every three months. Also have an emergency evacuation plan for the family to follow and have a designated meeting place for all family members. Once everyone is outside the burning home, DO NOT RE-ENTER THE HOUSE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!!
For more information visit the State Fire Marshal's Office webpage on the Mississippi Insurance Department Website at www.doi.state.ms.us.

Fire safety important as winter approaches
Friday, December 01, 2006
PASCAGOULA -- A looming cold spell and a recent fatal fire that killed two young children has fire protection experts pushing safety and prevention measures this winter.

The winter months, December through February, are considered the deadliest in terms of fires by the National Fire Protection Association, and the U.S. Fire Administration reports that more than 4,000 Americans died in fires each year, with another 20,000 injured in fires.
On Monday, a fire in Moss Point claimed the lives of Keyshawn Burts, 2, and his 3-year-old brother Phillip Burts Jr. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
With temperatures expected to drop into the 30s by Sunday and below freezing Monday, Billy Whittington, a senior instructor with the Mississippi Fire Academy, said careful planning can prevent similar tragedies.
"Kerosene heaters should not be used inside where there is no ventilation. What happens is carbon monoxide fumes will build up in the house. If no one has a monitor and they go asleep, levels can get high and people can suffocate and die from carbon monoxide poising," said Whittington.
Whittington also said the elderly are vulnerable during cold weather.
"What they tend to do is get real close to the heater because they can't get warm. They will take a shawl or a throw blanket and put it over them," he said.
The materials can easily catch fire. Whittington said the closest one should get to a heating device is three feet.
To prevent house fires, the USFA recommends:
Every house have a working smoke alarm.
Not overloading electrical circuits or extension cords.
Keeping chimneys cleaned.
Teaching children that fire is not a toy.
Not smoking in bed.
Whittington said electric heaters should have a thermostat and once the heater reaches a certain temperature, it should automatically shut off.
"Without a thermostat, it will continue to heat. It can overheat, short out and possibly cause a fire," he said.
Whittington said homemakers should also make sure that circuit breakers are not overloaded, particularly during this time of year when Christmas lights are in use.
"Homeowners want to make sure they have someone check their chimney on an annual basis before lighting any fires in it. A lot of people have burned fires but it hasn't been a continuous burn for days," he said.
Whittington also said a stove should not be used for heating purposes and if candles are used, it should be placed in a metal pan to prevent fire in even of a spill.
As Mississippi braces for its first taste of winter, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has winterized 31,000 temporary housing units in the state.
Maintenance teams have applied special protective measures to reinforce water hoses and examined the electric heat strips of each unit.
FEMA encourages residents to make sure propane tanks are full and if the water hose to the unit has been insulated, make sure the electric heat strip is plugged into the outlet on the side of the unit.
If the water hose to the unit has not yet been insulated, consider letting a trickle of water run at night to prevent freeze-up.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Office Equipment For NGOs


From Citizen Action Team - who is working with Kinkos!:
Leslie Teltoe: 818 360-2518 5-9 pm (west coast hours) M-Fri & weekends
grassrootsrebel@yahoo.com anytime.

We are working on an experiment to distribute used office equipment from a large corporate donor to humanitarian groups. Copiers, faxes, computers, servers, all kindsa stuff.

Let us know who you are, where you are, and a little about your organization.
When/if equipment becomes available in your area, we will let you know.

The process goes like this.
1. You get on our list.
2. When/if equipment becomes available in your area, we let you know.
3. If you want the equipment and you say, "YES, we want this item".
4. We ask for it formally.
5. We either get the equipment "assigned" to us or not.
6. If the equipment is "assigned" to you, then a call is placed letting the site know that you are coming.
7. You pick it up
8. You let us know when you've gotten it.
That's it! Free equipment!

BUT....we must follow the rules to make this experiment work and for us to get more free stuff, from corporations for humanitarian organisations.

RULES: If the equipment gets assigned to you, then you MUST be able to pick it up within one week of it being ASSIGNED to you.
If you can't pick it up or you don't have someone that can act as your alternate to pick up the equipment, then don't ASK for it.
Obviously, there are problems and there might be a time that you can't pick it up.
But if we want this experiment to work, then we want the number of times that we fail to be nearly zero.
If we want the experiment to work, we need to have things go smoothly. We need to show the corporate donors that we, as grassroots relief workers can follow rules.
So, if there is any doubt about whether you can pick up the equipment, please do not ask for it. Simple as that.

In Service,
The Citizen Action Team/Relief Database Team
Terra Friederichs/Leslie Teltoe/Dayle Nugent

Leslie: 818 360-2518 5-9 pm M-Fri & weekends