Ideas on assisting in the relief effort without going in person. Much can be done without leaving your house. Give those affected by disaster some hope, and use some of these ideas to help them.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Leslie Updates, April

Hello all! It's been a busy week of writing and waiting. Hurry up and wait kind of thing.

But, I have gotten several new rounds of contacts that are putting me in touch with folks who can give me more info about the needs of the municipalities.

I have to say I am falling in love with the folks at Gulf Coast News! They are incredible about putting out accurate and thorough information as often as they can. If only all news media were so diligent. Check them out at www.GulfCoastNews.com.

I'm noticing that the municipalities are in a new stage of crisis. I know these last 8 months have had them putting pieces back together, and now they are finding that the pieces are held together with bubble gum wrappers and baling wire. And with a new hurricane season about 30 days away, that's a scary proposition. BUT - the difference is, things have settled down enough that they have the time and the emotional wherewithall to speak out. That alone is far sooner than expected.

So - anticipate some new needs lists and updates this coming week.

A woman here in my area has taken up the torch and we're hoping to accomplish great things with each other's help. I've made the contacts, and now she's going to try to connect the dots between folks here and folks in Hancock County. How cool would that be?! Needless to say, I'm excited! It also seems she has worked with a governmental program for the elderly that gets them some sort of grant. It's a once in a lifetime kind of application and awarding, but hey! - If it's there, we'll take it! So, once she gets the full information out, I'll either give her the contacts to send it to, or forward it for her. Either way works for me!

I'm working on a letter to construction crews and contractors in an attempt to get them to the Gulf Region in the next 60 days. Most regions have a deadline this summer before new building codes begin which are far more stringent (and expensive). So, if building can begin prior to the deadline, (July 1 in Hancock County), people stand a far greater chance of being able to move back in.

A God Thing happened this past week. A man I do NOT know emailed me from the Biloxi area. It seems he, like hundreds of others, was drawn to the area to become a long-term volunteer. He read my personal update that I send to friends and family, and contacted me regarding the commercial fishermen who are getting KNOW help. He stated he could help! WOW. I gave his contact info to Yvonne, she contacted him and it seems he truly CAN help. I'm beyond ecstatic! How he got my personal update is beyond me. All I care about is that he can help this group of people that are so vital to the region and that no one else has taken up the torch for.

I wrote about a child with leukemia getting a bone marrow transplant and needing a clean house, but even the FEMA trailer is being invaded by mold (as well built as they are, really!). Well, the transplant went incredibly well, but the rebuilding of the house isn't. The woman in BSL who took charge thought she had a group of 50 skilled workers to come in and whip the place in shape. NONE of them showed. How sad is that? How can all of them be so irresponsible? She's at her wits end trying to figure out how to finish the house and I have no answers. Everyone I know down there can't break away to go to Slidell and help. Very sad indeed. If you would like to help this family, you can still assist by helping pay for the appliances through a Home Depot registry. Contact me for the full information.

On a discouraging note - well, another discouraging note - I have run into more people with delusions of grandeur through this ordeal that I am completely astounded. We all have a story to tell about our work, but to think what we have done, are doing, or plan to do is so important that it is worthy of publishing over the stories of those who lived through this disaster and then hoping to PROFIT off it disgusts me. Can no one do the right thing for the right reasons anymore? It can be so disheartening to see the sanctimony, the narcissism, arrogance and gall to see how important they think they are. No tragedy of this magnitude has been summed up in books of singular actions. Yes, there are stories of actions and people that go completely beyond all expectations. And sometimes they are even found out by the public at large. But the history that stands through it all, that which does not get lost in the chaff, is the history told through compilations of little stories that give the grand picture rather than a singular microcosm told ad nauseum.

I am saddened by this portion of our human nature. I know it exists, but it still saddens and disgusts me.

It's been a quiet week - still not a whole lot going on since Holy Week - which is fine. The people need to take small breaks once in awhile.Found out that Disaster Corp is leaving come June 1. I honestly don't know how large of an organization they are, so have to assume they are very small and they all need a break if they are going to be of any use in the future. That's what pacing yourself is all about.
It seems like there are FINALLY grants coming through for the folks in the Gulf Region. I know it takes time to set these things up, but it also feels like forever when it takes 8 months! However, I'll continue looking and posting them as I find them in hopes they help the folks down there. I know there are a few who read my blog and pass the info along to those who don't have internet access yet.
Have finally finished writing to all the NYS Universities. My next ongoing project is to start writing to Medical Clinics for continued assistance at the free med clinics, Police Departments to assist their choice of any of the PD's in the affected areas and the few paid Fire Departments for the same reason.
There are a whopping 4 gas stations and 2-3 grocery stores in ALL of Hancock County. Imagine your county operating with such minimal service. I've got 4 gas stations within 5 miles of my home - probably more. So think about it and then think about helping these folks.
So, this week has been mostly internet work. Not many phone calls, which will start up again this week.
Take care, if you have any good information to pass along, please do - I'll post it!

Who says you can't have a little fun doing serious work?

I sent out 2 boxes to the Humane Society of Southern MS (HSSM for those in the know). I have sent them boxes before, but this time I actually had something for the dogs. Tennis balls! I figured I could spare a few from the elementary school project and give them to some needy dogs. So, that box was labeled, "Attn Dogs". The other box was catnip bags I made from some 'nip I harvested last year. I felt like I was stuffing "dime bags" or something. That box - of course, was labeled, "Attn Cats". So hopefully they'll get a kick out of it. I sure did.

I was also able to acquire 38 pillow cases from a local cleaner - Bates Troy - for an art project at CBM Elementary (Pearlington). If you know of anywhere to get some more, they could use another 30 or so. I may call the university in hopes of hitting up some of the outgoing students for extras or whatever. Dorm life can make for good donations.

On the college note, 2 SUNY (State University of NY - aka Soonie) have contacted me re: posting the information to volunteer in Hancock County. So that would mean at least 4 are posting the information. Staying at my 10% return, which is way too cool! Plus, I have contacts at a bunch of the universities, so am able to get the information in through non-official lines. Life is good.

Doing my weekly search on grant possibilities, I found a couple more. I really hope folks are taking advantage of this information. Money is NOT easy to come by since so many are in such deep need. And grants tend to be a form of lottery, that the sooner you apply, the better your chances.

A temp. agency dealing with construction workers contacted me. He is very graciously offering to spread the word about the needs of the area. I would think those who aren't working at the moment would do this - it's tax deductible AND it could lead to a full time job. So many are finding this to be true.

There's a post on the www.KatrinaAdvocate.Blogspot.com site that you need to look at. It's called The Red File. I'm posting it because there's a saying in Emergency Services - don't become a victim. Those living in the Gulf Region, those helping in the Gulf Region and those who are at risk this year of major weather NEED to seriously consider creating a Red File. If you've protected yourself, you're far less likely to become a victim during a natural disaster, allowing resources to be used for those who truly need help. PLEASE - do it. www.TheRedFile.com

I've heard from one of my medical people about trouble in NOLA. It seems FEMA is threatening to pull out all tent cities that have, until now, housed the thousands of volunteers that are making clean-up and recovery possible in that city. FEMA has reconsidered and is at least leaving the tents up until June 1 - the official start of Hurricane Season. THAT makes sense. I wouldn't want the liability of having people in my tents during any hurricane or even tropical storm. But to pull out any earlier is foolish at best.

Beware other areas! - if they do this in NOLA, plan on them doing it in your area too - Pass Christian - listen up!

And finally, I received this email - I'll be doing some more research and getting the website's info up, but probably not until after the weekly Needs List. She and I still need to talk some so I can be far more comprehensive in what I post!


I was referred to your website/blog. I am amazed by your efforts and so very thankful for you. You are the perfect example of what I shout from every mountaintop....."One Person Can Make A Difference". Thank You.

We are Foundation Hope, Inc., a non-profit organization providing disaster relief to the residents of the MS Gulf Coast. This is my hometown. I have lived north of the coast in Hattiesburg for the last 11 years, but my mom, uncles, aunts, brothers, best friends, etc.... all still live on the coast.

I made my way with my friends Jessica Beane and Mike Smith, Jr. back to the coast via vehicle and ATV to start distributing supplies that my friends and relatives from across the country started sending to us. With the help of our friends at the Air McNair Foundation and The Brett Favre Fourward Foundations and the personal assistance of their volunteer-extrodinaire, Rick Maddox.....we started a POD (point of distribution). This turned into what is now known as Foundation Hope, Inc. Since, we have been granted a $5 million dollar In-Kind Donation from The People of Saudi Arabia to rebuild damaged homes....which we started Feb 13th, 2006.

There is a short synopsis of our efforts.....I would love to talk with you about what you are doing and how we can collaborate. "More hands make lighter work, Grandma told me!"

Thanks again Leslie and please contact me if you can,

--Patricia Bayles-Myrick Executive Director/Founder

Foundation Hope, Inc.
414 Hwy 90
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520

April 2
Spring has sprung and I'm loving life. The dizzies are so much better when I'm able to get outside and work. This indoor crap is for the birds.

Anyway, things here remain busy.* I've gotten all of the tennis balls requested by the Charles B Murphy Elementary, collected, punched, boxed and mailed! With any luck, they'll be getting the first 2 boxes early this week. I'll be continuing the collection of the tennis balls since there's serious rumors stating CBM is going to be merged with the other displaced elementary school and I would guess they'd be wanting the new chair feet as well. Thanks to my dad, Dave for going to the 2 places to collect said balls! And thanks to Marilyn W for her contribution of 50 from her daily walks!
4/4 update - the balls arrived and WOW are they happy!

The tennis balls are popped onto the feet of the chairs to make the quieter and to keep them from damaging the floors of the FEMA trailers since the trailers need to be returned in like new condition or face unspecified penalties. This is an easy, cheap and fast way to assure the floors are kept as pristine as possible.

* I've started putting out requests of fire companies to help the new "FEMA-villes", starting with Pearlington. These people need to learn basic fire suppression skills since there is so little in the way of organized protection. No buildings to house equipment and not nearly the trained volunteers back yet to staff a fire department makes these areas particularly vulnerable to the ravages of fires. And if 'normal' folk can learn how to do CPR and work a defibrillator by watching videos and doing an hour or so of hands on practice, I'm sure they can be taught the basics of working a fire extinguisher and the best way to fight the fire while staying safe in a similar fashion. Anyone want to take this challenge on?

* I started writing letters to culinary institutes in hopes of getting some kitchen relief for all the volunteer organizations that are trying to house and feed the multitude of volunteers coming in to help with the rebuilding. With any luck, some of these students and staff will make some trips down there and if nothing else, teach other volunteers the most efficient way to staff and work the kitchens. Efficiency is all!* This month, instead of making potholders, which I should, I'll be making teddy bears. Got a cute little pattern and have a ton of great fabric to make them with, so am making them to go with the quilts the Vestal United Methodist Women made to send down. It makes a great little Baby shower present for folks who have NOTHING.

* Have run out of postal money this month. LOL - I've sent a good number of boxes. The stuff inside was free, but postage isn't. So, I need to cut back a little. I could go bankrupt (like i'm not now) on sending boxes of stuff.If you want to help similarly (not by going bankrupt), watch your newspapers for church rummage sales (aka trash to treasure sales, bane and blessing sales, etc). Call them and ask if you can go through whatever didn't sell to send down to the Gulf Region. Then, make a bsic list of items that are needed from the lists I've provided and go hunt! It's actually a lot of fun and the stuff doesn't end up in the landfill and gets used! Just make sure it's CLEAN and WORKS before you send it.And as always, check the other 2 blogs -http://www.katrinaadvocate.blogspot.com/ for new entries - have added several and will add at least a couple more this week.
http://www.fullcirclequilting.blogspot.com/ - Same 2 quilts but hope to have another on within the next month.

There has been a host of other things that has happened over the course of the week, but this is enough reading for now.


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