Thursday, December 29, 2005

Finally, I am getting around to answering some questions from earlier.
Frauding and the Red Cross:
Sure there is. Fraud is an American institution. I have not seen or heard any direct stories though. There is also not much the Red Cross can do about it. They are short-staffed and in debt and therefore can only put Band-Aids on their problems for now.

The mall:
It's open for business. About half of the stores are already open and nearly all should return before the summer. Retail in general is about at 50% of pre-storm levels Coast-wide in the places that weren't destroyed. Many businesses whose offices were destroyed are quickly moving inland and/or into trailers. Nearly all of Pass Christian's businesses are now in trailers in Memorial Park on Beach Blvd.

Where the cash from all these benefit albums/books/art shows/etc. is going:
It is very hard to say. As a former development worker in the third world I can say that nothing is harder than getting money to someone or something that needs it the right way. In all likelihood, most of it is going to someone's idea of a good cause (read: pet project). Sometimes that cause involved God and/or Jesus. Sometimes it involves music. Sometimes it involves schools. The need is so spread out here in Mississippi, I'd be hesitant to say one place needs it worse than others.
That said, there is no doubt the schools have suffered greatly here on the coast. Mississippi is consistently ranked in the bottom five states (often below Puerto Rico too) in education standards and success rates. Considering that so many schools were wiped out, so many teachers were dislocated or forced to leave because of a lack of shelter and that things were already so bad there, it's a safe bet your money will go a long way towards a good thing. To donate, here is a list with contact information for all the local school districts:
Simply call up your favorite district (the ones near us are Harrison, Jackson and Hancock Counties in addition to Biloxi, Gulfport, Moss Point, Ocean Springs, Bay-Waveland, PAscagoula, Pass Christian, and Long Beach) or send an email and say you want to help. I can guarentee you they'd take it.That said, supporting the cultural community could be just as important. The South prides itself on its art and culture and it is also a big money maker for it. So keeping the arts alive here would probably help in the long run, it's just not where I'd recommend sending my aid money right now.

Casino check-off:
Imperial Palace is fully functioning and ready to take your insurance settlement check anytime you want.
The Palace is going to open one bar and some gaming in time for New Year's.
Isle of Capris is mostly fully funcitonal. Still a few hiccups but it's bascially back. And that's it for now. More updates on that to come.

That's all. Not as many questions as I thought on second look. Remember, we are here to pontificate, so throw us some questions every now and again and I promise we will work harder to answer them.

Finally, before I go, I need to plug a story I wrote that did not get as much play as I would have liked. I know this is going to sound like I am tooting my own horn, but screw it, I think it's an important sotry and that not enough people who matter are going to read it.
Here's the lede, courtesy of the Sun Herald:
Dr. J. Chester McKee has the most unusual distinction of being someone who was invited to Jackson twice in his lifetime to consult on the recovery from Mississippi's worst natural disaster.
The first time was after Hurricane Camille, when Gov. John Bell Williams invited the former Mississippi State University professor to be the director of the Governor's Emergency Council, formed on Sept. 6, 1969, with the directive of coordinating and guiding Mississippi's recovery and rebuilding effort.
The second trip came almost exactly 36 years later when Jim Barksdale, chairman of the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal, invited McKee back to Jackson to share some of his lessons learned.
"The problems were pretty much the same as we've got now for Katrina," McKee said by telephone last week.
The GEC disbanded after three years with some success, but most of its suggestions went unrealized, said former GEC members and staffers.
Here's the whole story:

Again, thanks for reading! More photos to come...


Blogger Sarabeth said...

I have so many questions that I don't know where to begin. My parents were hit by Ivan in 2004, and just hearing what was going on with Pensacola and its surrounding communities was overwhelming.

Are most of the pre-Katrina residents staying in coastal Mississippi? Are all the bridges repaired or partially functioning? What aid groups are still visible?

I noticed you didn't add "Death Star" this time.

5:34 AM  
Blogger MKeller said...

That was a good story there, guy. I read it when it came out in the paper and you're right, people should read it.
People in power and their underlings did see it, they just didn't make any comments.
On second thought, maybe you should run for governor. May I suggest as your first official act a community shot of whiskey for the whole coast? That would be sweet.
But I digress.

10:07 AM  
Blogger The Fergoosons said...

I found a great website that show panoramic views of the damage, if you're intested, check out it shows views of all over but some really great ones of the coastline and different towns. I may be coming there to see it for myself, my brother has had a heart attack and is in the hospital in Biloxi. I think the stress has taken it's toll. Thanks again for all you guys have done!

4:15 PM  
Blogger The Fergoosons said...

btw, the article is great. You do a great job! Sorry, I don't know all the right journalism words to use to praise your work, but I see you getting many awards for what you do!!! I like the governor idea, instead of a "chicken in every pot" you could use "Whiskey in every shot glass"....let me know when the campaigning starts, I'm there!!!

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a great story....too bad it involved Maddy, and not some other little child. Nothing against Maddy, who lives in Ocean Springs, but her mom has been milking this storm for all it's worth. She's been taking advantage of every freebie that's been handed out. It's digraceful. Their home wasn't even damaged. I've known maddy's mom for many, many years and she is an attention hog to the extreme. Any time there's media or attention involved, Ang is right there. Now, sadly, she's doing the same with her poor child.
Like I said, great article, but it would have been nice for the focus to be on a child who lived right in the immediate area, and who's life was irrevocably changed by this tragedy.

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