Thursday, September 15, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson


More and more good stories keep coming in the aftermath of terrible Hurricane Katrina.

Larry Hall, Marshall County administrator/road manager, stopped by the office Monday evening while I was finishing up the sports section.

He planned to rejoin a group of county road workers in Pearl River County Tuesday (staying in Picayune) to help cut and remove downed trees. They first went this past weekend. Hall said their efforts are very much needed and appreciated. And their work isn’t done.

Earlier in the day Monday, Sen. Ralph Doxey called and then stopped in with photos from Waveland, where he assisted for several days. The pictures showed total devastation — remains of houses piled on the sides of roads.

Hall and Doxey, like so many others from Marshall County, are helping in a desperate time of need.

Local school children are collecting school supplies. Churches are collecting clothes, food and other items. Industries and businesses are giving.

Towns are adopting towns - Byhalia reaching out to south Mississippi’s Ellisville. Marshall Countians are taking evacuees into their own homes and providing food, clothes and other necessities.

Schools in the area are accepting displaced students and helping them continue to learn and adapt to new surroundings.

Individuals are making journeys to the coast region to aid friends, family members and strangers. Those who can’t make the trip are assisting in other ways.

The destruction is awful, but maybe, just maybe, it will bring us all closer together and help us all to get our priorities in order.

A person telephoned about a young boy who set up a lemonade stand in Mt. Pleasant and donated the profits to the evacuees.

The faxes and e-mails concerning hurricane relief keep coming, too. Unfortunately, we can’t mention them all. The good stories will continue in the weeks ahead.

There’s a special letter to the editor this week from a 16-year-old who experienced Hurricane Katrina firsthand. She was separated from her mother (a nurse). Now she’s in a new school, while her mom works in Byhalia.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol and hundreds of other law enforcement agencies have responded in full force to help with search, rescue and recovery. The Mississippi State Trooper and Law Enforcement Relief Fund has been established. Call 601-291-6064 for more information.

Monetary donations will be used to buy needed supplies that will be distributed to all law enforcement officers working along the Gulf Coast.

“We have already sent four trucks to the Coast with supplies we were able to distribute through the generosity of several businesses,” said Master Sergeant Bobby Reed, president of the State Troopers’ Association. “But this need is greater than that. We have to be able to meet the needs of the first responders if they are going to meet the needs of the victims.”

The Mississippi Press Association has set up the Mississippi Newspaper Relief Fund. Its purpose is to accept donations for use in providing financial assistance to those newspapers and their employees which were most affected by the recent disaster. The hardest hit seems to be The Sea Coast Echo building in Bay St. Louis.

MPA was able to get some much-needed items there on Friday of last week. MPA director Carolyn Wilson reported publisher Randy Ponder was upbeat and positive. He and his staff put out a newspaper using a couple of computers, operating out of his residence. Call 601-981-3060 to support MPA’s fund-raising efforts.

Thanks to everyone who is doing their part, small or large, to help.

It’s the right thing to do, and it will make a difference.

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