E-mails show Pearlington grateful for the help
When do we stop caring about Pearlington? Hopefully never. Roaring Fork Valley residents have committed time and resources to help the small community of Pearlington, Miss., recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. And after seven months of hard work, it’s clear there is much more to do.Earlier this month, we sent photographer Paul Conrad and reporter Scott Condon to Pearlington for a second time in order to follow up on how the recovery is coming. The coverage came five months after their first trip to Pearlington revealed a community that had been destroyed by the storm. Although the diminished population of Pearlington no longer appears to be living in the day-to-day uncertainty that filled people’s lives last fall, it is clear the people there have a long struggle ahead before their lives return to anything like they were before Katrina.Below are a handful of the e-mails in response to the stories Scott Condon sent. We thought they would help people living here understand just how grateful the people living there are for the help: When I read the part about the church in Lakeshore, it made me cry all over again, but I will say, when I saw that spray-painted message for the first time, something deep inside me realized for the first time the resilience and determination of the storm victims …My mom lost her sister in the storm. She lost her brother two days before Thanksgiving from an infection, which quite likely he contracted as he cleaned his flood-damaged Bay St. Louis home, and she lost another sister on New Year’s Day … whom I believe died of a broken heart because she had to be taken to South Carolina after the storm and could not return for the funerals. Still, what hurt my parents the most was the dissolution of their beloved St. Joseph Parish and to be told that the church would not be rebuilt. The other things, they could accept as God’s will. The dissolution of the church … well, it just seemed like a kick in the teeth for a community that was already suffering. Anyway, I am so glad you are back for the update. The reminder that the “outside” world has not forgotten is uplifting for everyone down there. I thank you and your community so very, very much.Claudia Park(Margaret and George’s daughter) My son attends Charles B. Murphy School and has a hard time going so far away to school. Brittney who made your paper hanging upside down last time, will be attending Murphy next school year, and I do not like it very much that she will have to go that far. As a concerned parent, I wonder if we will every get our school back. A lot of people say it would be a waste of money to rebuild such a little school and that it was a waste of money to have the school open before the storm. I do not think we will every recover if this community does not pull together and start supporting what little bit we have left.LeeAnn Thanks for your coverage of our part of the country. Most journalists seem to want to only cover NOLA [New Orleans, La.] and it has been to our detriment. Mark SmithGulfport, Miss. Thank you for your attention to the small town of Pearlington. My aunt and uncle, Margaret and George Ladner, have been mentioned in your articles. They are sweet, wonderful people and part of a large and loving family, most of which have been seriously affected by Katrina. Since Katrina, Margaret has lost another brother and sister due to the enormous stress of the situation. Her little brother, who was in his 60s, and my mother, who was 88, died within two months of each other. They were displaced, homesick and unable to help each other in the way they were accustomed. It broke my mother’s heart that she could not go see her sisters and brothers and give them the support and love she wanted to give.Everyone down there still needs our help and prayers. Thank you for your efforts and your articles.Elizabeth Cain I want to thank you for your continuing articles on life in Pearlington after Katrina. It was through your articles that you did in the fall that friends of ours from across the country were able to keep up with us and to find out that we were alive. In desperation, they put “Pearlington” in their search engine, and your articles came up.Our home is behind the cemetery. It was not destroyed but is uninhabitable. We are leasing a home in Slidell while work on ours is ever-so-slowly going on. We are in Pearlington every day.We would also like to thank the students who have traveled down to help our community, and also your friends and neighbors back home who have offered us their love through support by prayers, supplies and money. God is not dead in this country! The good people of this nation have come through to help all of us on the Gulf Coast and we are so very, very grateful!!Ann Seale
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.