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Waveland, Mississippi Cafe & Relief Center: Help Still Needed

Waveland, MS Cafe & Relief Center: Help Still Needed
by wilderness wench
Tue Sep 20th, 2005 at 11:12:13 PDT

Just received the following from an old friend currently involved in Mississippi relief efforts with her teenage daughter. I've nothing to add to the 'on the ground' picture she paints here; I've only made very minor edits for clarity & focus. It's well worth reading.
She writes as follows from her sister's home in Missouri:

'We just got back from Mississippi. It is hard to imagine the devastation if you haven't seen it for yourself. Television doesn't do it justice ..'

(please make the jump)

* wilderness wench's diary :: ::

'Where we were in Waveland, Ms (just west of Bay St. Louis, where the hurricane made landfall), a huge storm surge came in. The amount of water in people's houses varied according to the landforms: from about 1 1/2 feet up to about 30 feet. I would say about 90% of the houses are either totally destroyed or now covered in mold and hazardous to health. Most people who stayed through the storm, or returned afterwards to find their houses in ruins, are living in their yards
in tents and tarps and, if they're lucky, rv's and
trailers. Or else they are staying in nearby towns and shelters and coming down to try to salvage anything from their houses and yards.

The water ruined most of the trees and plants in town and drove away or drowned the birds, insects, and wildlife. Everything is brown, shattered, covered in mud, and stinks to high heaven from decaying in the ~100 degree heat. This goes on and on and almost seems
unreal to someone from a living, vibrant place. On a positive note, we saw a Dandelion blooming and a Wisteria making a few flowers.

Thousands of companion animals were either lost or abandoned. The woods and debris piles are home to many cats, who are too traumatized to let you approach them. Stray dogs also abound. Many of the animals are
injured, mangy, and starving. The animal rescue folks are working their butts off trying to get them all in, but there are so many. Efforts are being made to re-unite animals with their owners, but some of them are deceased or unable to take their animals to shelters or motels. Many animals and horses trapped in
barns have drowned, but some survived and need caring for.

Many animals are being taken to the shelter in
Hattiesburg, MS. They will be kept for 30 days in case their people come looking for them. Then they are up for adoption. Unfortunately, there are so many that some will have to be euthanized. Please adopt if you can.

Many people are staying in the devastated areas, without city water or electricity. They don't want to abandon their property or their family homes of generations. Many are local farmers, fisherman, or townspeople who can't imagine living anywhere else. Many of them weathered Hurricane Camile in '69 and
they all say this one was much, much worse, and nobody thought so much water could come so far inland. Don't blame anyone for staying. They just didn't forsee the extent of this huge storm.

The local people here have been extremely nice and welcoming to us. They have an admirable spirit of survival and persistance. I can't say enough about how kind and open-hearted they have been. People are
looking after their neighbors, sharing supplies, and doing whatever they can to help one another. Many are feeding the stray animals.

Many of the people, of all backgrounds and economic classes, have lost every material thing they had. The water ruined their houses, possessions, tools, appliances, automobiles (thousands of dead cars and trucks are scattered everywhere). Many can't get
around except on bicycles or by walking and
hitchhiking. Most folks don't have electricty and
won't get it because the wiring in their buildings is ruined. The power company has started running wires down from power poles to trailers and rvs for the lucky people who have them. There is no telephone
service, and cell phone service is being
re-established and mostly works ok in some areas; other areas have no cell service at all. They have the sewage treatment plant working and city water is coming back to some places, but (as of Sunday, Sept. 17) was considered unsafe to drink.

Many people lost their jobs when businesses were destroyed along with everything else. Unemployment, food stamps, Red Cross, and FEMA relief money is slowly getting to folks, which helps some, but since there is only one store open in town (a gas station/convenience store), there's not much to buy.

People who are lucky enough to have functioning cars (i.e., those who left and came back afterwards) and gas money are driving to the Walmart in Picayune, about 25 miles away, to buy stuff or wash clothes.
Many people can't do this, however. Either they have no car, no money, little kids they have to stay with, or are afraid to leave their houses vulnerable to looters.

By the way, there has been some looting but nothing on the scale of New Orleans. The local law enforcement has been very focused on arresting troublemakers and getting them out of town. We personally experienced no
violence or theft while we were there, even in "bad" neighborhoods that some folks warned us about. We left our van open most of the time and nothing ever went missing. I even lost my cell phone at one point and it
was returned an hour later by a little old man on a bicycle who had nothing left but his cats.

Many different types of people showed up to help. The Florida Highway patrol has been totally wonderful. They are experienced with hurricane recovery and have been very caring and sensitive. They are working
hand-in-hand with the church groups and hippies to help people and keep things orderly. The local fire department and police department and sheriff are doing
the same - making do with what little they have left. Nearly all of their cars, trucks, and equipment were destroyed too. The Red Cross came and delivered hot
meals for a few days, but now they are nowhere to be found in Waveland and surrounding areas. The gossip is
that they are having serious administrative problems, and while the workers are busting butt, they are being hindered by inept beaurocracy. FEMA has finally got
some stuff moving, and they established an office in Waveland and are distributing trailers to the many, many homeless folks and other aid. The National Guard is directing traffic, manning checkpoints to keep sightseers and troublemakers out after curfew (8 pm),
distributing ice and water, and generally making everone feel like there's some stability in the area. The individual guardsmen and women have been very kind and friendly to all.

Mari and I were involved in establishing the largest independent and coalition relief center on the Gulf Coast. We call it the New Waveland Cafe and Relief Center. Working in a kind of creative and positive chaos, many groups (includipendent individuals have
erected a village in the parking lot of a destroyed shopping center. We built a cafe that serves three hot meals a day to any and all comers for free. The food folks are working their butts off to keep cooking, organizing supple, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.
At night sometimes people play music there.

The Rainbow family folks brough buses and are running the kitchen in conjuction with a church group called BCOC and others, all working together. It's beautiful how people of very different backgrounds have come together for this.

The firemen built showers out of plastic and lumber and set up a tanker with a generator, so folks can have warm, clean showers. We also have a medical tent with an EMT and MD and RN available 24/7. They sleep
right in the tent and do everything from wound care to vaccination (tetanus and hepatitis are a concern). They have a defibrillator and other EMT equipment. If someone is in serious trouble they go to the mobile hospital about 1/2 mile down the road in the Kmart parking lot.

We have a big tent housing a free store where people can pick up canned and boxed food, bottled water, diapers, baby wipes, baby food, personal car items, toys, school supplies, cleaning supplies, batteries, etc, etc, all the stuff you need. Out back there are pallets full of dog and cat food and pet supplies.
There are mountains of donated clothing too. These supplies have come from all over the country and are greatly needed and appreciated by the people.

Now, to what you can do to help.

PLEASE DO NOT: send money to Red Cross if you want to help Waveland. They have plenty of cash to do whatever they are doing, which I hope is somewhere else because we're not seeing it here. DO NOT send bottled water.
We have too much. DO NOT send clothing, again there is more than enough with the exception of SOCKS, UNDERWEAR, and functional TANK TOPS and T-SHIRTS.
Since people can't wash clothes, they need alot of those. It is very, very hot and humid there, so please don't send anything that you wouldn't wear in hot weather. PLEASE DO NOT send toothbrushes or toothpaste, we have thousands. PLEASE DO NOT send
kid's books or stuffed animals, we have too many.

YOU CAN SEND PACKAGES BY FED-X! They are doing daily deliveries to:

HWY 90

Please look up the zip code, I don't
have it and this computer is weird.

PLEASE do send the following items asap:

Bath towels, hand towels, washcloths: great need for these, don't have to be new, just clean

Socks, all sizes
Underwear, all sizes
clean, light-weight, light-colored t-shirts and tank tops

Bleach, all kinds of cleaning supplies, mops,
brooms,ine-sol type stuff; laudry soap (folks are handwashing in buckets). Buckets and big plastic totes to keep folk's stuff out of the rain. You can pack a plastic tote, tape it up, and ship it.

Tents and tarps (if you have access to a big tent, please please call Clovis at 608-469-7349) The center needs more big, open tents to keep rain off supplies
and also smaller tents for people to live in.

Hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol. Antibacterial wipes, germ-x (waterless hand cleaners) are very, very important in trying to keep clean w/o water.

Cream or spray for jock itch and yeast itchies (it's hot, humid, and dirty here; lots of fungi around)

Hair ties, brushes (not combs, we have too many combs)
Sunglasses and sunscreen (people used to air conditioned houses are living outside).

Batteries, especially D cells; you can't even get
these in the stores they are selling out so fast.

School and office supplies.
Current magazines.

DOG FOOD and CAT FOOD and BIRD FOOD. FLEA and TICK powder, spray, or collars.

Somebody please send a truckload of cold coke, pepsi, and beer ;>)

If you want to talk to somebody about sending money directly to where it is needed, call me at 303-746-3512.

IF there's any way in the world you can get away to volunteer, hands are desperately needed at the center.
We need folks to cook, clean, organize, and help in a thousand ways. If you are a hard worker, go down.
Don't listen to any news reports that say folks aren't needed. There is a curfew after 8 pm, just get there before then, and nobody will stop or question you. The local law enforcement folks are delighted to see us.

If you can go down: look up directions on
maps.google.com. You come in on I-10 and take 43/603 down to HWY 90 in waveland/bay st. louis. 90 is open along there but bridges are out on both the E and W ends, so you can only get into the area by coming down
43/603. At the intersection of 43/603 and 90 there is a national guardsman directing traffic. Go West towards Waveland. The relief center is across from the watertower. You'll see a big red-and-white striped tent next to a blue-and-white one and a lot of cars.
Go to the cafe tent and talk to Felipe or Erin or RJ or anyone in a bright green shirt. They will set you up to help. You will be camping out in your vehicle or tent in the parking lot. It's HOT and HUMID. But you will be fed and there is anything you need there, including a refrigerated truck to crash in when you
can't take in anymore. PLEASE DO NOT bring young children or pets. If they are old enough to work hard and help and can take the heat, you could consider it.
This place is a mess and only workers should be here.

The relief center is expected to be operating
throughout October. Please send supplies or get down there to help as soon as possilbe. It will be the experience of a lifetime for you. If you have any questions, please call me (303-746-3512) or email me.

Many thanks and blessings!
Lisa & Mari
Job well done 14.Oct.2005 20:33

John Wilkerson jwilkerson@mchsi.com

I live in waveland and have eaten at the cafe. These guys are doing a wonderful job. God bless them! Thank you for helping in our time of great need.

I was there 11/6 thru 11/12 15.Nov.2005 15:15

chuck from Louisville chuckwil@insightbb.com

13 of us from Middletown United Methodist Church in Louisville were down there to try and help.
The Devastion there is unbelievable. The Waveland Market was still operating at full steam. The Rainbow group were still doing an outstanding job giving free meal 3 times a day to everyone that wanted one. Pete and Faye Jones the directors were still giving a 110% keeping the Market Organized.
The Market is going to shut down Thanksgiving Day. There are efforts now going on to combine all local relief stations into one food pantry.
The most amazing thing down there is the Fantastic POSITVE attitude of a majority of the locals.

11/6 - 11/12 15.Nov.2005 18:09

Suzanne: Louisville, Ky. chuckwil@insightbb.com

Not ever having seen anything of this magnatiude it was heartbreaking to see so much devastation and so many peoples lives being uprooted. It was truly wonderful to see how thankful they were for all of the volunteers to be there. God has blessed my life to be able to help in a small way there. I became close to several of the people and I pray for them and will try to uplift them in some small way.