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.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

City Action Partnership

Feb 28
CAP Hurricane Relief 2008 Annual Report

Thanks to our volunteers and donors from the community, Glenn Reado, HandsOn Birmingham, Americorps, Boy Scout Troops, SouthPak, Smerfit Stone, UAB, and Jeffcoat & Associates who make everything we do possible. Also, special thanks to Bayer Company, Direct Relief International and our anoynmous donors!

• Made up and distributed approximately 2,500 kits of diabetic testing supplies donated by Bayer Company. Each kit has enough supplies for the average diabetic to test for a month. Made up 4 pallets of non-returnable samples of baby formula collected from the Post Office. Again thanks to all the volunteers.

• Made up and distributed over 170 first aid kits to tornado areas as well as gulf coast area to support volunteer rebuilding.

• Distributed approx. 10 pallets of medical supplies donated through UAB Hospital

• Went through 10 pallets of out-dated FEMA lunch boxes picking out items that were still good. We culled enough to make 3 pallets of tuna fish with forks and napkin sets. Americorps volunteers did most of this work.

• Held fundraiser which raised $2,000 for Hurricane Relief and $2,000 for MBSH (Metropolitan Birmingham Services for the Homeless). We donated our share to Hancock Co. Fire Rescue.

• Distributed 6 pallets of medical supplies donated by the Niagara Medical Alliance in Chicago.

• Distributed 4 pallets of ortho supplies and adult diapers donated through Heart to Heart (an international medical relief organization).

• Sponsored (2) 18-wheeler loads of cat food donated by Delmonte in Decatur to the Gulf Coast. This was done through Free Haul.

• Made 2 trips to MS/NOLA to sort and deliver supplies. One trip we took down a large copy machine found by Butch Fadely to Kathleen’s group in Waveland.

• Paid dues for a struggling clinic in Angie, LA to join the National Assoc. of Free Clinics.

• On the anniversary of Katrina, Channel 33/40 did a piece on our efforts partnering with Mt. Top Community Church.

• We met Carolina of Tri-Coastal on the highway with ½ pallet of water and Gatorade donated by Cousins Properties and ½ pallet of adult diapers from Heart to Heart.

• We asked and the Birmingham community or Clinic Network responded.

1. We put out the word that Pearl River Fire Rescue needed an EKG/deliberator machine and Butch Fadely coordinated a donation from Bham Heart Clinic.

2. We joined a drive to “Blanket the Bayou” and Cousins Properties, Greater Bham Humane Shelter, and the AWARE Club of Vestavia High School collected 3 pallets of blankets, linens and towels that were distributed to Bayou LaBatre and Hancock Humane Society.

3. We put out the word that an insulin pump was desperately needed in Bay St. Louis and St. Paul DeVincent in Baton Rouge came to the rescue.

4. We put out the word that an extra large wheel chair was needed in Gulfport and the Niagara Medical Alliance responded.

5. We put out the word that money was needed for an elderly couple to put in a septic tank so they could finally get back into their home and Mt. Top Community Church responded with a check for the entire amount.

6. We put out the word that we needed money and $8,000 was anonymously donated.

7. We put out the word that medications were needed and the free and sliding scale clinics and pharmacies made lists of what they had extra to donate.

8. We continue to have a wonderful relationship with Direct Relief International who keeps us in the loop of what is being offered to domestic clinics.

January 23
November December Update:

I regret to inform you that one of our most faithful volunteers, Becky "Grandma" Davis has passed away. I'm sure that many of you who worked in the hurricane relief warehouse after Katrina remember her. She was the crusty old homeless lady who volunteered one day and then almost everyday after that for almost 2 years. She was featured on Channel 33/40 in a couple of pieces they did on CAP's relief work. In addition to her volunteer work with us, Becky always tried to help other homeless people, whether it was telling them where to get food or medical help or just give them encouragement to stay off drugs. She also sat on ONB's Homeless Committee to share her unique point of view regarding homeless issues in Birmingham. Becky made many friends in the Birmingham community and she will surely be missed.

Thankfully, she was able to spend her last few months with her family in Augusta. Becky refused to let her daughter know that she was homeless until after she got housing and disability so that she could contribute. As you might guess, she had no insurance policy to pay for funeral expenses. If you would like to contribute to a fund we are collecting, please make your check payable to Becky Davis Memorial Fund and send it to CAP, 1801 3rd Ave. North, Birmingham, AL 35203. We would like to get a donation to the family as soon as possible.


June 7 Update

Boy Scout and Cub Scout Troop 440

Thanks to Glynn and Bunny and Boy Scout Troop 440, sent to us from HandOn Birmingham, we have 2 pallets of diabetic kits and a pallet and 1/2 of baby formula ready to go. We are still looking for people to transport down to the coast. Please let me know if you or your church are still going down. We are trying to be very careful with our donation money. :-)

Speaking of volunteering- There is a small community in Angie,LA (just below Tylertown, MS) in desperate need of volunteer help. They are off the beaten trail and not right on the coast, but Katrina went right through there and did a lot of damage. It's the elderly who need the help in this community. I know that there is sooo many opportunities for church teams, but let me know if your interested in this one. My contact is with the clinic there, but she is very involved in the community as a whole and has been quick to share extra medical supplies when she has them.

Update on Woman in Desperate Need of Insulin Pump: Charlie Sides from St. Vincent De Paul Pharmacy in Baton Rouge donated a brand new pump with the capability to hook up to a computer (should save on some doctor visits). While in the doctors office her blood sugar bottomed out then went up to like 400 (normal is up to 180) and the doc said he doesn't know how she has gotten this far without help. Without your support, we would not still be doing this. Thank you for this opportunity.

Speaking of support. We got word today that an anonymous donor is sending $3,000 for our work! Thank you sooo much! This happened because someone kept sending emails out to their personal list about what we have been doing. So tell your friends to check us out!! :-)

We were also contacted by HandsOn Gulf Coast for an extra large wheelchair with a leg lift. This time a group from Chicago, Nicaraguan Medical Alliance, came through for us. Yahoo! Thanks Bob, Jack and Jeff!

We were featured in the CAP Corner in Synergy. A copy of the article, "Are We Done Yet" can be linked here.

Next trip to MS is in the works. 4 pallets of ortho med. supplies and depends will be shipped into Pearlington to the W. Hancock Fire Rescue Dept. where we will sort and deliver to clinics who have requested specific items. This donation is coming from Heart to Heart in Kansas. Thanks Shannon and Jeff!!

This week we are going through 7-10 pallets of old food boxes (from another warehouse) pulling out the one item (tunafish) that is not expired and re-boxing for shipment. Thanks to Americorps for providing volunteers!

Attention Doctors: Clinics in still in need of insulin, Tetanus injections and allergy meds. Please contact us if you have samples you can spare.

Got a sneak preview of changes to CAT Relief Database in the works. This really cool tool is about to get even better!!! I can't wait!!

NEW FLASH! RKM Primary Care Clinic in Clinton, Louisiana and St. Charles Community Health Center in NOLA just offered some insulin!! We recently sent RKM some syringes and needles from the storage at the Salvation Army warehouse. Way to go RKM and St. Charles!!!

5/17 http://www.capisdowntown.com/may2007.htm Although we had a successful fundraiser and have been able to at last ship kits out directly to the clinics, we still need to "hook up" with volunteers traveling to MS and New Orleans. The more free shipping we get the longer the money will last. Also, as summer approaches the temperature on the shipping trucks becomes a concern with the test strips. The pallet shipping deal fell through because of the temperature issue. :-(

What a great time we had at our Foolish Fundraiser Party!. Everyone really enjoyed the band and dancing, and the food was yummy and plentiful-- thanks to generous donations of food from the downtown business community and friends. Not only did we have a good time, but we raised over $4,000 dollars!!! That’s $2,000 to Hurricane Relief and $2,000 to Metropolitan Birmingham Services for the Homeless (MBSH@bellsouth.net).
An unsolicited generous donation from an anonymous angel (made specifically to CAP’s Hurricane Program) will make it possible for the whole $2,000 plus to go to the West Hancock County Fire Rescue! AND, we will send the donation through Charities in Action who will match the money, making our donation amount to the struggling Fire Rescue over $4,000. Our most heartfelt thanks to our community of friends who supported this effort. We are humbled by your generosity and faith in us. Check out the support at the bottom of this update, and see yourself at MagicCityMoments.com for more pictures from the party.

Because of your generosity, diabetic supplies are on the move again! We have shipped to the following clinics and as you can see from this note from the Lower Ninth Ward Free Clinic these supplies are still crucial:

"Very Busy!!! Seeing a lot of uncontrolled diabetics. Please, the need for diabetic kits remains urgent!!! Pat"

D'Iberville Free Clinic, MS - 20 kits
Capitol City Family Health Center, NOLA - 20 kits
Coastal Family Health Center, MS - 20 kits
Primary Health Services Center, NOLA - 20 kits
Common Ground Free Clinic, NOLA - 10 kits
Lower Ninth Ward Free Clinic, NOLA - 15 kits
Bethel Lutheran Free Clinic, MS - 30 kits
Ozanam Charitable Pharmacy, AL - 55 kits
Manna Ministry, MS - 30 kits
Longbeach Coastal Clinic - 15 kits
Volunteers of America Free Clinic - 30 kits
Ibernia Comprehensive Comm. HC Ctr., LA - 20 kits
Angie Free Clinic, LA - 20 kits
Calcasieu Community Clinic, LA - 30 kits
Haviland Family Clinic, KS - 10 kits

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Feb 28 Think NOLA

Neighborhood Coworking Saturday at Bayou Coffee House
Get ready for another Coworking session on Saturday, March 1st, 2008 at the Bayou Coffee House starting at 11:00 am. I’ll be available to help you with information oriented things, but that’s not the point. The point is to bring some work to get done, and get it done.
Read about Coworking in the Recovery of New Orleans at Think New Orleans.

EditGrid – full featured online spreadsheets.by Alan Gutierrez
Would you like to see the demolitions in your neighborhood? Read on, there’s a map for every zip code in Orleans Parish after the jump.
But, I want to tell you about why I like the Internet and with I like software people.
I like the Internet because it connects you with people as far away as Hong Kong and allows you to collaborate with them, or in this case, it allows them to collaborate with you.
I like software people, because they create incredibly useful tools and for the most part, they are happy if you’ll just use them. All you have to do is be alert enough to know that you’re on the receiving end of a good deed.
Unfortunately, no one can accuse me of being alert.
This a post about a cool contribution to the New Orleans recovery by P.K. Chan, a look at more of the cool things EditGrid can do, and a bleated thank you.
When Matt McBride first created a spreadsheet of the city’s targeted demolition list, I published his article at Think New Orleans, as I always do when Matt sends out his research emails. I put the data in an EditGrid spreadsheet and placed it online with his article.
Th article is Updated Version of the City’s 1,400 Property Demolition Target List and the most recent version of Matt’s spreadsheet is February Property Demolition Target List.
When FEMA created the list, the took GPS coordinates. The next day I generated a Google Map using Super Snert. Unfortunately, Google Maps was slow with the 1,400 data points. There was no quick and easy way to break up the spreadsheet into smaller chunks.
Or so I thought.
Continue reading A Map of Every City Demolition for Every Zip Code In Orleans Parish Thanks to EditGrid and P.K. Chan by Alan Gutierrez at Think New Orleans.

Rebuild by B E M.by Alan Gutierrez
Recently, Matt McBride showed his spreadsheet acumen by creating a spreadsheet of the city’s targeted demolition list. He cross-referenced the demolition list against the city’s permit database, to find which of these structures already had demolitions permits. He did so by punching in addresses at city’s online permits database.
For those of you who don’t know, I was once a computer programmer.
It would make Matt’s life easier, I figured, if Matt didn’t have to pick through the city website to obtain the demolition permits. It would be easier if he had them all in a spreadsheet, because he seems to like spreadsheets.
So, I went and gathered up all the permits issued in Orleans Parish since January 2005 and put them into spreadsheets. They are available for download at Think New Orleans.
Continue reading A Spreadsheet With Every Permit Issued in Orleans Parish Since January of 2005 at Think New Orleans.

Recovery School District S.O.S.

y Eli Ackerman
Some citizens have been monitoring the Recovery School District here in New Orleans and are raising serious and immediate concerns.
In a three part series, I examined the record of RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas at his previous position as head of the Philadelphia School District. There were some things there – no-bid contracts, budget shortfalls, and a less-than-transparent 1.5 billion dollar capital building program – that might call for immediate answers regarding an increasingly suspicious situation here in New Orleans.
Alan Gutierrez has already explained in an earlier thinknola post, that the Recovery School District is putting the community through a farce of an input process for the Master Plan. Given that the District has already received demolition permits for several schools, it appears to many that a Master Plan is already in place and that the public planning phase is just for the sake of vanity.
Continue reading Recovery School District S.O.S. at Think New Orleans.

Follow the Dollars – Corps Depleting Pump Station Funds?
by Matt McBride

The Corps announced its fiscal year 2009 budget request a couple of weeks back. In the main document linked off its press release, all of the Southeast Louisiana work was lumped into a single $5.7 billion line item. I was curious about the details behind that line item.
If one digs through the Corps’ website, one can find the dollar breakdown for those numbers. The Corps’ Program Integration Division develops the budget among other things. Its webpage is here: http://www.usace.army.mil/cw/cecwb/
And the detailed breakdown on the FY2009 budget request is here:
To find the section on the SE Louisiana stuff, go to pages 220 through 233. For those of you receiving this directly on email, I’ve attached just those pages.
Finding this information is hardly obvious to the normal citizen, who one would think would be interested in how 5.7 billion taxpayer dollars were to be spent.
I was particularly interested in the budgeting for the permanent pump stations. There’s been various hints in presentations the Corps has given over the last year that the cost would be somewhere between half a billion and a billion dollars. To find the particular numbers on the pump stations, go to pages 224 and 225. You’ll see that the Corps is asking for $704 million for the pump stations. You’ll also see a double asterisk after that number.
Continue reading Follow the Dollars – Corps Depleting Pump Station Funds? at Think New Orleans.

Season of Mitigation
by K.C. King

In the gallactic view, hurricane protection depends on three layers; robust wetlands, levees adequate to the threat, and strong, elevated homes to protect against things that the first two layers miss.
Against this, we have the reality that the political will, from either party, is apparently not there to make the first two layers strong enough to protect against historic (Katrina was a 394-year flood) hazards let alone globally warmed future hazards. Instead the Bush administration, Congress and, more importantly the US Army Corps of Engineers has signed up for 100-year protection – period.
The implied message is – Katrina will never happen again. Some of us living behind cosmetically repaired flood walls have different views. We are trying to take steps to ensure our homes are safe but many others are not and leadership is keeping its mouth shut when it comes to promoting a safe rebuilding vision. On top of that, the mediocracats at the State and FEMA have still, after 2.5 years, not released any of the funds we are entitled to receive to help us elevate.
Continue reading Season of Mitigation at Think New Orleans.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feb 19 Think NOLA Update

Think New Orleans
RSD Facilities Planning / BarCampNOLA / City Breaks Its Own Laws /
RSD Facilities Planning: The Latest Joke In Civic Participation
Slated for both discussion and demolition: Lockett Elementary by Karen Gadbois.In this inaugural Think New Orleans video cast, bobble-head Alan talks about the School Facilities Master Plan.
Why are we sitting in circles and sharing our feelings about public school facilities while the Recovery School District has their demolition permits in hand? Isn’t this yet another pointless diversion and flagrant waste of our time?
Read the article Have You Heard the Latest Joke In Civic Paricipation? Planning the Future of School Facilities as They Are Demolished and watch the vidcast at Think New Orleans.

BarCampNOLA Hack Day: The New Orleans Hackers Get Organized
Catered by Linda Green (504 891 4478) the crab meat and shrimp dressing was the main event at BarCampNOLA. Photo by Brian Oberkirch.Last weekend was the first BarCampNOLA held at the offices of Voodoo Ventures down on St Charles. The turn out was surprising. I didn’t know there were that many software folks in New Orleans. It was a fun confab and a productive one too.
BarCampNOLA is an technology unconference. You’ve heard me talk about unconferences before. Think New Orleans has hosted two civic unconferences, one on the Road Home Program and one on the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.
BarCamp doesn’t really have to do with drinking. The first BarCamp was a response to an invitation only and pricey event called FooCamp. BarCamps are free and open. The words “foo” and “bar” are often used in programming examples. Too much to explain, probably.
The second day of BarCamp was Hack Day. A dozen people worked with me to update the website of the Bayou Boogaloo.
You can read more about BarCampNOLA at Think New Orleans under the posts BarCampNOLA Hack Day: Clever Hacks for the Neighborhoods New Orleans and BarCampNOLA Hack Day: The 3rd Annual Bayou Boogaloo Website.

How Many Ways Can a City Violate Its Own Laws? – Matt McBride

“Imminent Health Threat” demolitions along historic, oak lined Bienville Avenue by Karen Gadbios. (I think I see a pattern.)How many ways can a city violate its own laws? A small committee inside New Orleans’ city government appears to be trying to answer that question.
First some fundamentals. The Housing Conservation District Review Committee (HCDRC) is the body charged with reviewing demolition applications in historic neighborhoods outside the city’s local historic districts. That geographic area – called the Housing Conservation District – is roughly south of I-610 on the east bank and also includes a small area near Algiers Point on the west bank.

The agenda for the HCDRC’s bi-weekly meetings is compiled by the city’s Safety & Permits department, which accepts demolition permit applications. Safety & Permits also chairs the committee, which is made up of mostly mid-level city bureaucrats and has no staff. The Committee meets in the offices of Safety & Permits. In effect, the committee is a wing of Safety & Permits, and has historically done that agency’s will, which is tilted toward approval of demolition permits.

One can find the laws governing HCDRC’s operation online at municode.com. They are in sections 26-3 through 26-10. Those laws are not particularly long or complicated; they take up less than four pages. Yet the committee and Safety & Permits have somehow managed to display a stunning degree of ignorance of those rules (twice in the last two months it has been citizens informing city employees of the applicable laws), except where it was more advantageous to exploit them. In fact, it is difficult to find a law relating to HCDRC not ignored or exploited by Safety & Permits or the Committee over the past two years.
Continue reading How Many Ways Can a City Violate It’s Own Laws? at Think New Orleans.

Politics with a Punch
On Thursday night February 21 there will be another special edition of Politics with a Punch at the Cricket Club, 2040 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans the new location for the event. Many of you will remember it as the Eiffel Tower Restaurant or the Red Room, so you know it is an exquisite facility, one of the most unique in New Orleans.
For this show, they are opening the doors early, at 6 p.m. for a Punch Happy Hour and Dinner. The Cricket Club bar and kitchen will be open and a delicious menu will be offered for Punch patrons.
As usual, we are pleased to have an outstanding panel of celebrities:
Kevin Belton, N.O. School of Cooking, Comedian, Human Taxidermist
Brad Edelman, Famous Photographer, Artist & former N.O. Saint
Gio, Burlesque Queen of N.O., Star of “Stripper,” Marriage Counselor
Nick Lopez, Comedian, Actor, Improviser and Filmmaker
Rob Masson, News Reporter, Fox-8 WVUE-TV
Scott Ritter, Former U.N. Weapons Inspector, Author, National Speaker
Buddy Roemer, Former Gov. of LA, McCain Campaign Representative
Tickets are only $15.00 per person/$25.00 per couple.
If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity, please RSVP by sending an e-mail reply to Jeff Croure. You can also purchase tickets in advance on-line at the website: Ringside Politics with a Punch.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Blog Index

"Freedom, in its purest sense, meant service, a heretofore untraveled road by which he might resume his long-stalled journey toward fulfillment. The experience of helping someone who so desperately needed help proved a heady and self-nourishing sensation, especially when his efforts met with far greater success than he had dared hope." Donald Olson, The Intricate Pattern
Items in RED are NEW
Items in GREEN are UPDATED
Items Written In Purple are my additions

Other Sites Related to Katrina Networking
Hancock County

Pearlington - updated 1/25/08
Gulf Coast Artist Relief - Updated 2/1/08
Gulf Coast Emergency Services Relief
Real People Relief Updated 2/1/08

Weekly Features
Letter Of The Week Updated 12/31
Family of The Week - Updated 11/26
Agency of The Week updated 2/13/08
Carnival of Hurricane Relief - Updated 2/1/08
News From Leslie - Updated 2/13/08

Volunteer Information
For Agencies and Organizations
Community Gardens Effort updated 2/13/08
2/13/08 MS Renaissance Garden Project - seed/bulb distribution
2/12/08 Disaster Accountability Project
2/1/08 Camp Katrina - Waveland MS
City Action Partnership - updated 1/30/08
1/6/08 New Site - Katrina Connection - For NOLA Residents
1/6/08 New Site - Color Of Change - NOLA Site
Think NOLA
Grants for Non-Profits
MS Development Authority Scam
Katrina's Angels
For Non-Profits and Municipalities
Assistance For Schools
Grants For Communities
Citizen Action Team
MS United Methodist Disaster Response
UMCOR Response
Safety Guidelines For Volunteers

For Individuals

Resource Pages
Grandfamily/Single Parent Resources
Family Resources updated 12/24/07
Medical Resources
LA Family Resources
Education Assistance
Mortgage Resources
Furniture and More
Resources for Children/Childcare
Grants for Individuals - does not include homeowner or repair grants

Articles, etc.
2/1/08 FEMA article - Candymaking
2/1/08 Fort Pike Threatened To Disappear
11/9 Information on Lead and Lead Poisoning
Ohr-O'Keefe Museum Information
Article Index
Pictures and Videos Collected
Blogs To Follow
FEMA Information

Helping Without Going Down
2/13/08 Boxtops For Education Update

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Carnival of Hurricane Relief

2/14/08 This week's Carnival of Hurricane Relief, the 125th, is a valentine to the Gulf Coast. It's hosted at Prosthetic Device:



- a crafty Gulf Coast mom inspires the illustration for this week's CoHR homepage

- the Gulf Coast makes an appearance on a short list of romantic getaways

- Norman Love Confections is a Gulf Coast mainstay for Valentine's Day

- a self-described "Girl Raised in the South" is passionate about Valentine's Day

- getting married in the French Quarter on Valentine's Day

Please post about this week's CoHR so that your readers will know. And, as always, thanks for your ongoing support.


"Carnival of Hurricane Relief"
"CoHR Squidoo Lens"

2/1/08 This week's edition of CoHR, the 123rd, is hosted at Kneadle Work:


- Ms. Delores loses her fight
- Miss Malaprop serves as travel guide
- Queen Barkus welcomes revelers
- The Masked Observer scoffs from Mobile
- The St. Charles trolley clanks and clangs back to life

1/24 This week's Carnival of Hurricane Relief, the 122nd, is hosted at Red County, California:
- an alternative to Mardi Gras
- Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army rock
- Biloxi's Old Brick House gets funds from FEMA
- a good day for a Gulf Coast volunteer

Please post about CoHR so that your readers will know. And, as always, thank you for your ongoing support.
"Carnival of Hurricane Relief"
"CoHR Squidoo Lens"

1/17 This week's CoHR, the 121st edition, is hosted by the indefatigable Leslie at Katrina Networking: http://katrinanetworking.blogspot.com/2008/01/january-17-cohr.html
- The American Farm Bureau meets at Bourbon Street
- more Gulf Coast insurance woes
- NOLA's lower 9th ward gets a health clinic
- journalism during disasters

Please post about CoHR so that your readers will know. And, as always, thanks for your ongoing support.

"Carnival of Hurricane Relief"
"CoHR Squidoo Lens"

1/10 This week's Carnival of Hurricane Relief, the 120th, is hosted at Kicking Over My Traces:

- LSU gives the Gulf Coast something to crow about
- the SBA gets rebuilt
- a mausoleum gets renovated
- a museum gets saved
- blueberries replace tung oil

Please post about CoHR so that your readers will know. And, as always, thanks for your ongoing support.

"Carnival of Hurricane Relief"
"CoHR Squidoo Lens"

This week's edition of the Carnival of Hurricane Relief, the 119th, is hosted at Dark Spark:


- a mobile laundry service to wash disaster away

- the indefatigable Leslie gets a write-up

- an interview with Dr. Neil Frank, former head of the NHC

- This Old House does NOLA

- A teen volunteer dies

Please post about CoHR so that your readers will know. And, as always, thank you for your continuing support.

Special note: CoHR is looking for a new proprietor. Details on the CoHR home page:



"Carnival of Hurricane Relief"
"CoHR Squidoo Lens"

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Community Garden

12/24/07 - It's actually time to start thinking gardens down along the Gulf! No wonder we were so behind the curve this last year.
Anyway, here's a great planting guide I found for Zone 8 - which is just about the entire Gulf Coast:

2/13/08 Also - if you need seeds or bulbs

2/8/07 - Container Gardening Suggestions
2/13/08 - Garden Pest Control
2/11/07 - Look Like A Pro

3/5 - From Angie of The Green Project - will be looking into these organizations VERY soon!
Leslie,Thank you! That blog is a great resource for us all down here.
Here are the websites for the three organizations I mentioned...
Hope that helps!Angie

2/17 Found at www.TheGreenProject.org - in NOLA
Environmental Education Workshops
4th Saturday of each month
2 part series: Part 1: Organic growing, from soil to planting system 3/24, 10—12
Part 2: “Landscaping for form and function in our turbulent times” 4/28, 10 —12

The text in black is from CommunityGarden.org. Text in purple is mine


It is essential that the group benefitting from garden be involved in all phases.
Organize a meeting of interested people.
Choose a well-organized garden coordinator.
Form committees to accomplish tasks: Funding, Youth; Construction; Communication. (not all will be needed at all gardens)
Approach a sponsor. A sponsor is an individual or organization that supports a community garden. Churches, schools, citizens groups, private businesses, local parks and recreation departments are all potential supporters. Community Development Block Grants are sometimes available through your municipality. (If people get back to us, we might be able to find sponsors - but we won't waste the energy unless interest is shown. KatrinaCoalition@aol.com)
Make a list of what needs to be done.
a garden site. (I'm suggesting go to the churches in the area)
Obtain lease or agreement from owner. (most churches don't have any landscaping and I'm sure they'll find it a good idea for their communities to help in this way)
Decide on a mailing address and central telephone number(s).
Try to have at least 3 people who are very familiar with all pertinent information.
Form a telephone tree.
Choose a name for the garden

Identify the owner of the land.
Make sure the site gets at least 6 full hours of sunlight daily (for vegetables).
Consider availability of water.
Try and get an agreement which allows the space to be used at least for 3 years.
Consider past uses of the land. Is there any contamination?
Is insurance something you need to consider? (I'm going to say no for the first 3 years.)


Clean the site. (most will be, but then you'll have to turn the soil for planting)
Gather your resources - free materials. (top soil, containers, mulch, seeds, etc)
Organize volunteers. (Can be coordinated with other recovery efforts)
Plan your work day. (a schedule of people working to prep the area)
Decide on plot sizes, mark plots clearly with gardeners names.
Include plans for a storage area as well as a compost area. (again, coordinate with church)
Have a rainproof bulletin board for announcements and messages.
Arrange for land preparation--plowing, etc--or let gardeners do their own prep.
Will the garden be organic?
Place flower/shrub beds around the visible perimeter - promote good will with community.


Are there conditions for membership (residence, dues, agreement with rules)?
How will plots be assigned (family size, residency, need, youth, elderly, etc.)?
What size plots (or several sizes based on other factors)?
How should plots be laid out?
If the group charges dues, how will the money be used? (I'd refrain from charging for now)
Will the group do certain things cooperatively (turning in soil or composting)?
When someone leaves a plot, how will the next tenant be chosen?
How will the group deal with possible vandalism? (Unlikely to happen)
Will there be a children's plot?
Will the gardeners meet regularly? If so, how often and for what purposes?
Will gardeners share tools, hoses, and other such items?
How will minimum maintenance (especially weeding) be handled both inside plots and in common areas (such as along fences, in flower beds, and in sitting areas)? (addressed later)
Written rules gardeners are expected to uphold? How will they be enforced?
Should your group incorporate and consider eventually owning your garden site?


Many garden groups are organized very informally and operate successfully. Leaders "rise to the occasion" to propose ideas and carry out tasks. However, as the work load expands, many groups choose a more formal structure for their organization.

A structured program is a means to an end. It is a conscious, planned effort to create a system so that each person can participate fully and the group can perform effectively. It's vital that the leadership be responsive to the members. Structure will help an organization to last; it will promote trust; it will help your group grow and create new opportunities for leaders to develop.
Organizational Considerations:
What is your purpose? What are your short and long-term objectives?
How are decisions to be made? Who chooses leaders and how?
How will work be shared? Who does what?
How will you raise money? Membership dues, fund raising, grants, sponsors?
Are you open to change? Flexibility is important when goals and members change. Do you want to be incorporated or act as a club?

What goes into formal Bylaws:
Full official name of organization and legal address.
The purpose, goals and philosophy of the organization.
Membership categories and eligibility requirements.
Membership dues, how much and when paid.
Specify when and how often regular or special meetings of the membership are to be held, as well as regular and annual meetings of the board of directors.
State what officers are necessary, how they are chosen, length of term, their duties and how vacancies are filled.
State special committees, their purpose and how they operate.
Establish a system so that bylaws can be rescinded or amended, maybe by a simple majority. State any official policies or practices: e.g.. garden group will avoid the use of hazardous substances; group will agree to keep all adjacent sidewalks in good repair and free of ice and snow in season; group will make all repairs necessary to keep equipment, fences and furniture in good order and repair.
Include a Hold Harmless clause (sample):
"We the undersigned members of the (name) garden group hereby agree to hold harmless (name owner) from and against any damage, loss, liability, claim, demand, suit, cost and expense directly or indirectly resulting from, arising out of or in connection with the use of the (name) garden by the garden group, its successors, assigns, employees, agents and invites."

All of these things can be worked on in greater detail as the interest is shown. There are people on the ground in MS that are willing to work at establishing these gardens.
Also - there are many gardeners around the nation who've not assisted because they didn't know how. Now is their time to shine! If you are such a person, please contact Leslie at KatrinaCoalition@aol.com or Lynn at l.onufer@ zoominternet.net (spaced to avoid spam) for more information and opportunities.
Holding tool drives, seed drives, container drives, etc., will be of great use. Please consider it!

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Box Tops For Education

There is a program out there called - you guessed it - Boxtops For Education. The website - http://www.boxtops4education.com/. You can either check out the products to cut the label off of, or you can actually join up!

The process is simple - Cut the little logo out which looks like this the picture in the upper right corner. Save them up for a month, and then send them in a normal envelope to:

Hancock County Schools
7070 Stennis Airport Drive
Kiln, MS 39556

Tammy Raymond
Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District
201 Carroll Avenue
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520

Gorenflo Elementary,
771 Elder Street,
Biloxi, MS 39530

Popp's Ferry Elementary School,
364 Nelson Road,
Biloxi, MS 39531

Sacred Heart Elementary
10482 Lemoyne Blvd
D'Iberville, MS 39540
Phone is 228-217-1392

You can also do online support through the Boxtops website. I will try to keep this updated, but go to the index page http://www.boxtops4education.com/Promotions To look for current online support methods...

February 08
http://www.boxtops4education.com/gametime/ - good until 3/31/08

Start fundraising with Cinnabon®, and enjoy great profits, plus Box Tops for your school!

If you’re part of an organization that does fundraising—whether it’s a sports team, club or other group—you know how hard it can be. Selling magazines or chocolates, staging car washes, holding tag sales. Now, your local Cinnabon® is offering a fresh and easy new fundraising program to help your organization earn cash. And your school will earn Box Tops at the same time!

Here’s how it works: your group can buy Cinnabon® fundraising certificates for only $7.00* each, and sell them for a suggested price of $10.00. Purchasers can redeem the certificates at participating Cinnabon® stores for one 6-pack of Cinnabon Classic Rolls – a discount from the regular price – and they also receive one Box Top coupon to send in to your school.

Each certificate is customized with your group’s name and a list of the nearest Cinnabon® stores where the certificate can be redeemed.

Why choose Cinnabon® for fundraising?

Anyone who’s ever walked past a Cinnabon store knows the allure of warm, fragrant, freshly-baked cinnamon rolls! From sugar and cinnamon dusted CinnabonStix® to refreshing frozen Chillattas™ to those World Famous Cinnamon Rolls, these bakery treats enjoy tremendous popularity.

That name recognition makes it easy to get the word out. And school supporters who are tired of the same old promotions will appreciate the change of pace! Purchasers can enjoy their treats while shopping, traveling, and of course, take their 6-pack of Cinnamon Rolls home with them.

There are many other advantages to fundraising with Cinnabon®, too.

• You don’t need to handle any product, and the entire process is completed in one transaction. Present the certificate, collect the money, and you’re done – no need to return for delivery.

• High dollar donation per transaction. Your group makes a full $3.00* for every certificate you sell.

• Your school benefits too, since every sale includes a Box Tops for Education coupon.

• Higher earnings potential: For example, if your group has 20 members, and each sells 12 certificates, that’s 240 certificates sold, or $720.00 for your organization!

To learn more about how to get started with Cinnabon fundraising, visit http://www.cinnabon.com/.

*Program example based on suggested fundraising certificate rate of $7.00 each. Final pricing determined by individual franchise locations.

The Cinnabon® trademark is a registered trademark, used under license by General Mills.

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MS Renaissance Garden Foundation

The Mississippi Renaissance Garden Foundation, Inc. and the Harrison County Beautification Commission invites you to participate in “Horticulture For Humanity”

Help us Bring Back the Beauty of the MS Gulf Coast

We will provide the seeds and bulbs if you will plant “Gardens of Hope” around the coast. Gardens may be small or large, in your yard or in your neighborhood. They may be planted by individuals or groups. When the garden blooms, send in pictures and a short story about how the garden brought hope and beauty into your life, your family, neighborhood, organization, church, school or business. Your story may be selected to win a Mississippi Renaissance Garden of Hope Award and may be featured in local magazines and the media.

Flower and vegetable seed packets as well as daffodil, hyacinth and allium bulbs donated by recovery organizations to The Mississippi Renaissance Garden Foundation will be given away to residents, organizations, schools, churches and businesses agreeing to plant them where they can be seen and enjoyed. The bulbs must be planted as soon as possible. Watch for dates, times and places of distribution in the Sun Herald and on WLOX. There is no charge for the seeds and bulbs; however, donations to the MRG Foundation are appreciated and will go toward the building of a botanical garden and horticultural center in Hiller Park in Biloxi, MS. All donations are tax deductable and receipts will be given.

The Harrison County Beautification Commission, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is working with the MRG Foundation to Bring Back the Beauty of the gulf coast and to make communities cleaner, greener, safer and more livable. The Mississippi Renaissance Garden Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization established by MS Gulf Coast residents as a response to the massive environmental destruction of Hurricane Katrina and the Governor’s Mississippi Renaissance Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal. Its mission is to create a “Horticulture for Humanity” botanical garden and horticultural center on the Gulf Coast to act as a base for restoring the green spaces lost in Hurricane Katrina and provide environmental education and horticultural therapy for the residents and volunteers working to rebuild the MS Gulf Coast.

A major step toward the building of this premier botanical garden will be the building of a model botanical garden and horticultural center in Biloxi at Hiller Park. This MRG model will be a retreat for those seeking peace and serenity, and a resource center for environmental education and recovery. It will stand to honor all of the survivors, responders, volunteers and heroes involved in Katrina recovery. A Memorial rose garden will be created to remember those who were lost during Katrina. Organizations, businesses or individuals interested in helping to develop various themed gardens within the model garden are invited to submit ideas, materials, services and financial resources. The MRG Horticultural Center will host artistic, cultural, educational and horticultural events for the public. Local artists are invited to participate in the visuals to be used in educational materials.

Individuals and groups interested in participating as Garden Angel Sponsors and Garden Volunteers for Hiller Park may find further information on the web site: http://www.msrengarden.org/ or call: 228-388-2622.

In appreciation for your participation and contributions to this humanitarian and environmental endeavor, The MRG Foundation and the Harrison County Beautification Commission will recognize your generosity with a “Gardener of Hope Card “ which offers special benefits.

They were the recipients of a great grant:

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Garden Pest Control

Community Gardens - what started all of this
Container Gardens - first installment
Looking Like A Pro - third installment

2/13/08 Diseases affecting vegetable plants - from MSU - more information at the bottom of the page

2/13/08 Insect pictures from MSU

Second Installment
Most 4-leggers aren't such a bad problem unless they've discovered the area to be GREAT for buffet eating. And you want to keep it that way.

Rule #1: Start controlling before you start planting.
Animals are creatures of habit. If they find a particular spot to always be smelly, bad-tasting, or hard to get to, they'll just not go to it or through it anymore. So if you start the habit of avoidance before you put tasty treats in there, it'll be far easier to maintain avoidance after your deer salad-bar is established.
BUT - they will tolerate just about anything if they know there's a good meal at the other side. So if you wait until they've found your growing stash, you've lost the war and the battle.

Rule #2: All animals hate something.
Deer hate the smell and taste of egg whites, the smell of canine urine or any blood, the taste of hot pepper and bananas.
Rabbits, wood chucks, moles, voles, and to a certain extent 'possums and raccoons all hate the smell of canine urine, garlic (not necessarily mixed, but it wouldn't hurt) or any blood, and hate the taste of hot pepper.
Dogs and cats hate the smell of citrus and the taste of hot. Sometimes the smell of vinegar (cats especially).
Slugs and snails die on egg shells.
All don't like dish soap.

I've personally never needed to use urine. You can get powdered at the hunting stores - but I don't bother. Blood sounds really icky, but you can get either bloodmeal or a fertilizer called Malorganite to use. Even just sprinkled lightly within the garden area is enough to keep them at bay.

The other stuff - you can mix together in water with just a little dish soap (helps it stick to plants and paws). Froth up a couple of egg whites, add a tablespoon powdered garlic, a tablespoo hot sauce, teaspoon white pepper or cayenne and just a little bit of dish soap - 1 teaspoon per gallon. mix this into a gallon of water. If you're going to protect a larger area, water spots in regular increments. Like a splash ever 18". The smell will go throughout the area. If it's a small area, saturate the area with it. None of this will hurt the grass or plants. Just don't get any in your eyes. LOL - I'm speaking from experience.

You can crush up your egg shells to use - I crush a dozen at a time in a morter and pestle, but you can also use a blender (my mom's way). Put a little moat of them around each plant stalk you want to protect. Bonus! - generally speaking, the ground is always in need of extra calcium, so this will aid your plants in two ways - protection and root growth.

If you eat a fair number of bananas, just take your peels out to the garden area, and throw them there. Chopping them and scattering is more effective, but not necessary. You can also just place them around the plants you want to protect if you don't want to risk stepping on one. Bonus! Soil can always use extra potassium (potash), so you get double duty again.

Citrus peels - chopped definitely works better. Bonus! Beneficial nematodes LOVE citrus peels. they help ward off BAD bugs - always a good thing.

Rule #3: Nothing lasts forever.
Rain rules. Rain cleanses. And so, the stuff you've just watered your ground with will slowly fade away and will need to be repeated. I generally start with once every 3 days. After 2 weeks, I drop back to once a week for a month, and then usually once a month works - or after a heavy rain - like more than a half inch.

Rule #4: Nothing is perfect.
If the animals find that you're hiding goodies behind a smelly curtain, they're going to find a way through it to eat. This means building a fence. Chicken wire and a couple of stakes works well. You want it to be 4' high and from the ground up - preferably a couple inches IN the ground. Place it about 3' away from your plants, but no more than that. This keeps things from crawling under, reaching over, or jumping in. If you want, you can place your used drier sheets on the fence as well. The smell and the flutter generally is distasteful to the critters - and the smell generally lasts through rainfalls.

Diseases (very pest like)
These are what I've found online to be the most common...
Damping-Off (seedling disease)—Seeds of many vegetables are susceptible to damping-off fungi when planted in infested soils. [This can be avoided by keeping the seedlings warmer rather than cooler.]

Root Rot of Beans and Southern Peas—Root rot is severe on green beans, lima beans, and southern peas. The disease first appears as reddish or reddish-brown areas on stems and roots.

Early Blight of Tomatoes—Early blight is a major disease of tomatoes in Mississippi
[This can be partially controlled with powdered milk of all things. Mulching also helps - keeps soil fromsplashing up on plant and infecting it]

Blossom-End Rot of Tomatoes—Blossom-end rot occurs on the tomato fruit. It begins as a small, water-soaked spot that develops into a dark brown, leathery spot that may involve half the fruit. [Calcium and even moisture - periods of drought and then very wet - are the best way to prevent this. Powdered milk, OR - ground up drywall!]

Spotted Wilt of Tomatoes and Peppers—This viral disease is transmitted by several species of thrips and may kill plants or drastically reduce fruit-set. Fruits from diseased plants are generally small and distorted. Tomatoes develop irregular yellowish blotches. [I've had this happen. Yuck! Pull the plants out as soon as you see they are infected. Don't plant tomatos there for a few years. Don't plant too close together. Mulch to keep soil from splashing up on plants during rain]

Southern Blight—Southern blight affects most garden vegetables. The fungus that causes southern blight attacks plant parts (roots, stems, leaves, or fruit) that are in contact with or just under the soil surface. [aluminum foil 2" and 2" above the soil surface wrapped around the stem]

Mosaic—This virus disease commonly infects beans, sweet corn, squash, melons, cucumbers, peas, peppers, and tomatoes.

Powdery Mildew—Powdery mildew is caused by a fungus that commonly occurs as a white, powdery growth on leaves of cucumbers, squash, melons, beans, and English peas. Benomyl and chlorothalonil effectively control powdery mildew on vine crops, and sulfur provides control on beans and peas [powdered milk, a pinch of baking soda mixed in water and spray until plant is dripping]

Nematode Diseases—Nematodes are slender, tiny, worm-like animals that feed on plant roots, stems, and leaves. Nematodes cannot ordinarily be seen with the naked eye and go unnoticed until plants become unthrifty and stunted [chop up orange peels and scratch into soil.]

Leaf Spots—Leaf spots, caused by fungi or bacteria, commonly occur on many vegetables. They appear on leaves and sometimes stems as distinct, dark-colored or tan spots one-sixteenth to 1 inch in diameter. [It's that powdered milk thing again]

Bacterial Wilt of Cucumbers---This destructive disease is caused by a bacterium that overwinters in the bodies of adult striped and spotted cucumber beetles. As these beetles feed on young plants in the spring, bacteria are introduced into the vascular system.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Camp Katrina - Waveland MS

Christian Life Center
1807 Waveland Ave
Waveland, MS 39576
info @ clcgulfcoast.com

Welcome to Camp Katrina, AKA Christian Life Center, a ministry of Christian and Missionary Alliance Church! The primary site for Camp Katrina can be found at http://www.clcgulfcoast.com/. This site serves as a means for volunteers to update their personal information and skills assessments. If you're a trip leader/coordinator, you can register as a leader and use the site to set up volunteer trips. Also, once volunteers enroll with the site, they will be able to receive newsletters from Camp Katrina via email!
If you wish to set up a volunteer team for your church. Please contact Shannon Lenox at info @ clcgulfcoast.com or at 228-466-3880.
For documents to help you plan your trip click here.
Their January Update
KATRINA UPDATE: January 2008


Dear Fellow Partners:

Happy and Blessed New Year to y’all. (Hey we are in the South) What a year we have just completed. It has been such a blessing to see how God has transformed the ministry in Waveland/Bay St. Louis. The Christian Life Center (CLC) continues to become a mission outpost for so many wonderful churches. We are humbled by your commitment to this community as we continue to “finish well”.

I am so encouraged and blessed as I have seen the CLC team come together. We have been praying for several months for David and Donna Cornelius, John and Chrissy Rohmayer, and Heather Lang(Shannon’s soon to be wife). John and Christy have moved down and are in their new home. Heather has moved as well and Dave and Donna are on their way. What a tremendous team God has brought together! This is certainly a team committed to our mission: “Fighting despair with Christ’s compassion and igniting hope with His love”.

Let me give you a quick review of what God allowed all of us to be a part of during this past year 2007. I say,” all of us”, because none of this would have been possible without your prayers and support.

We help remodel over 60 Homes
We held VBS for 75 kids
We had a Youth outreach with MAZE that impacted over 100 youth
We continued to host Friday evening “Coffee House” with 50 plus attending
We fed 1500 people by distributing over 200 turkeys to families in the area
We were able to bless 750 children through the distribution of nearly 3000 toys with Toys for Tots. We gave out over 50 beautiful bikes as well.
We went through a successful leadership transition with the installation of Pastor Mark Young as Director of CLC. Mark is an Associate Pastor for Outreach at Genesis Church. Melissa Young will care for the financial books and gift receipts.
The District placed Dave and Donna Cornelius as the Pastoral Couple for Waveland Community Church, thus freeing Mark for Relief Ministries.
We were able to see our Volunteer base come back with a passion to serve

PRAY with us as we look ahead in 2008:

We are building a Thrift Store that will provide needed clothes and furniture for the families in the area. ( a furniture store gave us the inventory of good used furniture valued at over $25,000 to help start the store)
The Thrift Store will be a much needed Community Connection Point.
We are starting a Family Training Center to meet specific family needs
We will help Pastor Dave build the Waveland Community Church as we continue to build bridges and relationships throughout the community.
We will continue to rebuild and remodel homes destroyed by Katrina. Our goal is to help complete 60 homes.
We intend to invest at least $40,000 in special needs reconstruction for the poor (those that have no insurance and continue to live in FEMA housing)


Pastor Dave and Donna are moving down in a few weeks to lead the Waveland Community Church. They still need to sell their home in Toccoa, Georgia. This is an urgent request. Thanks to a generous gift from a friend of CLC, we have been able to help Dave with his mortgage payments so they could come down and help us, but the HOME NEEDS TO SELL. So keep that high in your prayer list, please!
We need a long term volunteer to help with camp cooking. We can provide room and board. Our current camp cook will return to the Midwest in April-May. This is a tremendous ministry both to the staff and volunteers. If you know of a retired person that would love to give us 6-8 months or longer, please let us know.
We also need a volunteer to help with the Thrift Store. We will also provide room and Board. It would be great if we were able to get a retired couple, one to cook the other to run the Thrift Store, that would be really helpful.
We need to begin a Building Fund for the Thrift Store. We have the $25,000 dollar inventory, and two make shift huts to house all of the stuff. We need however to begin to build a building that will better serve the long term need of the community.
PRAY for a continued flow of volunteers through out this year. As it now stands we are in good shape. You guys are talking up the ministry, sharing testimonies and experiences, and people are calling daily asking about opportunities. This is wonderful. KEEP IT UP! You guys are GREAT!

Again, Friends, we couldn’t do this without you and it is so great to partner with you! God is building an Army of Volunteers that are ready and willing to help the helpless in Jesus Name. We are seeing God build a community of Faith that extends from you the volunteers, through the long term staff, to the communities of Waveland/Bay St. Louis. What an opportunity to Follow our Lord to the Needy of this area and complete His Mission for these dear ones. We are part of something bigger than ourselves and something very special. Thanks for holding the ropes for us and thanks for allowing God to use YOU to FINISH WELL for His Glory!

Embracing His Mission Together,

Pastor Don Young, Genesis Church

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Historic Site Threatened

In case you are not familiar with Ft. Pike, it lies a few miles west of Pearlington on US 90. There isn’t a lot in between unless you count mosquitoes, alligators and snakes. WHFRS gave Fort Pike at least one fire engine.

They are considered part of New Orleans Fire Department. The fort is right next to the firehouse.

Historic Fort Pike Battles Back
By Kia Hall Hayes

ST. TAMMANY BUREAU - Standing in tall marsh grass and looking out at Fort Pike and the adjacent Rigolets, Joseph Yarbrough shuddered to think what would happen if the structure continues its steady decline, which was accelerated by Hurricane Katrina.

It would be like losing the French Quarter, offers Yarbrough, president of the Fort Pike Foundation.

"If these structures were to fall, there would be no replacing it," he said. "We need to preserve it."

State officials are doing just that, giving the historic site a much-needed facelift and developing plans for more significant renovations. Fort Pike is set to open next month for the first time since the storm.

The 19th century fortification at New Orleans' easternmost shore has been closed since the 14-foot-high structure was completely submerged more than two years ago. The waters left waist-high marsh grass, wild animals and significant structural damage to the 190-year-old site, which had already fallen into disrepair due to decades of neglect and erosion.

Fort on endangered list

Fork Pike -- along with Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip, both in Plaquemines Parish -- was listed as among the 10 most endangered battlefields in the United States last year. The list was complied by the Civil War Preservation Trust, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C.

Officials say a flurry of activity will take place in the coming weeks to get Fort Pike ready to open, and landscaping crews will come in and clear the marsh grass and mud and other remaining storm debris.

"This was just like the Gulf of Mexico," Yarbrough said of the once-flooded site along U.S. 90.

Support buildings surrounding the fort, which were washed away in the storm, have been replaced, and the walkway, bridge, picnic pavilion and restrooms have been rebuilt. The nearby boat launch, which sustained pre- and post-storm damage and is also owned by the state, reopened several months ago.

"Everybody's anxious to see it open and get people back to the area and try to revitalize the tourist trade," said Yarbrough, who hopes Fort Pike will eventually become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the New Orleans area.

Damage is visible

Signs of the more significant damage are still visible on the fort, which was held by Confederate soldiers until it was taken over by Union forces around 1862. Cracks in the citadel walls that were several feet wide before the storm have expanded enough to walk through. Pieces of old houses and boats, remnants of storm debris that covered the entire fort after the storm, still litter portions of the grounds.

The most heavily damaged areas will remain closed to the public, but visitors will still be able to walk on the grass-covered upper level and around several of the casemates where guns were housed, said Stuart Johnson with the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

"You'll still be able to get that experience to look out like a soldier in the fort," he said.

To correct decades of neglect, the state has hired John Miller & Associates to conduct a full evaluation of the fort and develop a five-year construction plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given a verbal commitment to cover the projected $18 million cost of the project, which includes correcting structural damage and creating barriers to prevent further erosion, Johnson said.

Two other forts fare poorly

Other local forts damaged by Katrina aren't faring so well. Fort Jackson, along the Mississippi River south of Buras and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, held storm surge for weeks after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita because it is surrounded by levees that trapped the water, which had to be pumped out.

Fort Jackson, which was built in the 1820s and is owned by Plaquemines Parish, has remained closed since Katrina. The fort had cracks before the storms, but trees growing atop its bastion walls and over its casemates are the source of much of the structural damage, officials have said.

Stanley Mathes, the parish's tourism director, said there has been talk among parish officials about Fort Jackson becoming part of a national park, but "that is strictly in the talk stage," he said.

Mathes said he would like to see the park reopened so the parish's annual Orange Festival could return to the site.

"It's something that we'd like to get back because it was a great recreational area," he said.

Fort St. Philip, located just upstream from Fort Jackson on the east bank, was built in 1795 by the Spanish. Its cannons prevented the British from reaching New Orleans in 1815 in the Battle of New Orleans and fired on Union ships in 1862, but owner Frank Ashby Jr., a New Orleans oil broker, has no plans to restore it.

The 60-acre fort had fallen into disrepair years ago, but, thanks to Katrina, "whatever was left standing is probably not standing anymore," Ashby said.

Plaquemines Parish had expressed interest in acquiring the fort, which is accessible only by boat, but Ashby says he won't part with the land where he scattered his father's ashes decades ago.

"I have no plans to restore it and I never did have any plans to restore it," he said.

'It's just too much to lose'

Walking around Fort Pike while keeping an eye out for snakes, Yarbrough was a veritable encyclopedia of trivia.

"The history here is just phenomenal," he said.

Completed in 1827 on top of a cypress log foundation called "grillage," the structure was home to 400 Confederate troops during the Civil War. Pinkney Benton Stewart Pinchback served here as a second lieutenant before becoming the first African-American governor of Louisiana, Yarbrough said.

During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers held the fort until Union forces took New Orleans in 1862 and the structure was evacuated. Union soldiers reoccupied the building and used it as a training center for former slaves, who were taught to use heavy artillery before joining the U.S. Colored Troops.

The fort was officially abandoned in 1890 and in 1972 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"It's just too much to lose," Yarbrough said.

He plans to coordinate tours with local schools, make the site a bus tour destination and hold arts and crafts fairs on the property. An Open Air Art Festival, the last in May 2005, was held at the fort for four years before Katrina. Yarbrough wants Fort Pike to be even more popular than it was before the storm, when it attracted about an average of 14,000 visitors annually.

"It has the potential if we can get the support from the public and the funds to do it," he said.

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FEMA Is In To Candy Making

Probe: FEMA sugarcoated danger of hurricane trailers

Story Highlights

FEMA says it "did not suppress or inappropriately influence any report"

Democrats on congressional panel say FEMA "ignored, hid and manipulated" data

FEMA tests indicated trailers were safe if properly ventilated

Probe: Expert said not divulging research constituted "threat to public health"

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency manipulated scientific research to play down the danger posed by formaldehyde in trailers issued to hurricane victims, according to an investigation by congressional Democrats.

FEMA "ignored, hid and manipulated government research on the potential impact of long-term exposure to formaldehyde" on Katrina and Rita victims now living in FEMA trailers, said a letter written by Democrats on Monday.

Democrats on a House Science and Technology subcommittee wrote the letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. FEMA is part of the Homeland Security Department.

In a separate letter, lawmakers said the federal health agency that provided guidance to FEMA was "complicit in giving FEMA precisely what they wanted."

Victims living in FEMA trailers have complained of health problems related to formaldehyde, but initial FEMA tests revealed the air quality in the trailers was safe if those trailers were properly ventilated.

Formaldehyde is a common preservative found in building materials used in manufactured homes. It can cause respiratory problems and has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

FEMA said the health agency's February 1, 2007, advice didn't address long-term health effects, but rather concerned ways to avoid toxic exposure to formaldehyde.

"FEMA did not suppress or inappropriately influence any report," said agency spokesman James McIntyre.

The lawmakers are questioning the integrity of research done by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and said they don't trust FEMA to conduct an independent investigation into the toxicity of the formaldehyde in trailers.

The investigation, led by Rep. Brad Miller, D-North Carolina, found the health agency ignored research from one of its own experts, Christopher De Rosa.

Because the health opinion was completed without appropriate oversight, the results could be misleading, De Rosa wrote in a February 27, 2007, letter to a FEMA attorney that was obtained by the subcommittee.

"Any level of exposure to formaldehyde may pose a cancer risk, regardless of duration," De Rosa wrote. "Failure to communicate this issue is possibly misleading and a threat to public health."

In its initial round of testing, FEMA took samples from unoccupied trailers that had been aired out for days and compared them with federal standards for short-term exposure, according to the lawmakers. FEMA officials instructed scientists at the health agency to leave out details about long-term exposure in its consultation.

"Honest scientific studies don't start with the conclusion, and then work backwards from there," Miller said in a statement.

FEMA is currently testing 500 of the 40,000 trailers (1%), but the lawmakers said they have no confidence in the new testing and sampling procedures.

The test results are expected in February and FEMA plans to issue a final report in May.

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