Mechanical trouble strikes ‘Red Ball Express’ vehicle | AspenTimes.com

Mechanical trouble strikes ‘Red Ball Express’ vehicle

John Colson

Carbondale’s “Red Ball Express” hurricane relief mission got a little help Monday from a couple of mechanics in Kansas, according to officials associated with the town’s effort to help Pearlington, Miss.According to Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach, the ambulance carrying medical, camping and other relief supplies to Pearlington, which Hurricane Katrina leveled in late August, ran into some mechanical problems near Colby, Kan.Leach said the drivers pulled into the local Chrysler dealership, where mechanics diagnosed the problem as a failed alternator, replaced it with a new one, then went on to give the ambulance a tuneup and change the fluids. They then sent the mission on its way at no charge.The ambulance was expected to reach Jackson, Miss., by Tuesday night and get to Pearlington by today. Pearlington is a small community on the state line between Mississippi and Louisiana; it was largely ignored by rescue efforts for more than a week after Katrina slammed into the nearby Gulf Coast. A Sept. 20 article on the CNN.com website described the town as having virtually no shelter and homes knocked off their foundations, often reduced to heaps of rubble.Leach, who was the initiator of a movement to have Carbondale “adopt” Pearlington and set up a trucking network to get supplies to the battered community, said that when the ambulance gets to Pearlington, the drivers were to turn over the supplies and the ambulance, a gift from the Carbondale Fire Department.Basalt and Aspen, as well as Pitkin County, have kicked in some cash to help transport the relief supplies to Mississippi, according to a statement from the Carbondale fire station.Leach said the cash is “not a huge amount” but that it “definitely is welcome” as Carbondale continues its effort to help the residents of Pearlington recover from the storm damages.Meanwhile, Leach said, there is a growing stockpile of donated goods and supplies that is expected to leave for Pearlington early next week.Those with goods to donate to the cause can bring them to the Red Rock Plaza on Highway 133, the former site of the Partyland store. A list of needed items is available on Carbondale’s official website, Carbondalegov.org, by clicking on the Katrina relief button.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.comHot line seeks helpA local telephone help line for hurricane evacuees who need assistance has been flooded with calls, leaving its one staff member unable to reply to most people who have called to offer assistance. Vince Savage, who is manning the Roaring Fork Valley Information and Assistance (VIA) line set up by the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, is looking for a few volunteers to help take calls from both evacuees and people offering aid. Currently there is only one line – with no call waiting – which Savage is usually on. Those who have called and not heard a response yet should be patient, Savage said – priority is given to calls from the evacuees themselves.Anyone wishing to volunteer should leave a message on the VIA help line, 544-5545, and wait for a call back. More lines will be installed on Monday, Savage said.