Funds sought to aid victims of hurricane | AspenTimes.com

Funds sought to aid victims of hurricane

Tom DalessandriDebris is stacked outside a home in Pearlington, Miss., that flooded during Hurricane Isaac last week. An estimated 100 homes were swamped with 1 to 3 feet of water after Hurricane Isaac passed through the area.

ASPEN – An aid effort that started in the Roaring Fork Valley seven years ago to assist residents of Pearlington, Miss., rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina was revived Tuesday to help owners of homes swamped last week by Hurricane Isaac.

Donations to Mountains to Mississippi can be made to Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, according to Tom Dalessandri, who is directing the effort. Donations can be sent to Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, P.O. Box 1639, Aspen, CO 81612. Mountains to Mississippi should be designated with any contribution. Donations can also be made by calling 970-544-1298.

Dalessandri, a Carbondale resident, rode out Hurricane Isaac in Pearlington and witnessed the extensive flood damage firsthand. Officials with the town’s fire department told him roughly 100 homes took in 1 to 3 feet of water during the storm. Additional flooding was expected when the rain-swollen Pearl River topped its banks, but that hasn’t happened yet, Dalessandri said early Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re drying out. That’s the good thing,” Dalessandri said.

The bad thing is many personal possessions got drenched when floodwaters rose higher than many people expected. Mud coated floors and lower walls, Dalessandri said. The wet sheetrock in the houses’ interiors must be stripped off as well as the wood siding on exteriors.

“The big concern is if you don’t get that out quickly, the mold sets in,” Dalessandri said.

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Dalessandri, a former Garfield County sheriff, will head a direct-aid effort, which will ramp up in the next few days. Mountains to Mississippi will purchase construction materials, then harness volunteers working in hurricane relief to help fix some of the damaged homes. Mountains to Mississippi dives into the work itself rather than get involved in more bureaucratic efforts.

“We just get it done,” Dalessandri said.

Dalessandri said he will check in with a recovery center in Pearlington for names of families that applied for assistance. He will check out their homes to assess the effort necessary and then make the arrangements for material and labor.

Mountains to Mississippi applies to Aspen Valley Medical Foundation for the funds and provides receipts for the materials purchased, Dalessandri said. In some cases, appliances will be purchased to replace those ruined in the flood, he said.

Carbondale officials have volunteered to put together a work crew to send to Pearlington, but Dalessandri said he told them to stand by until aid efforts advance and he can better utilize their time.

scondon@aspentimes.com