Roaring Fork presence felt in damaged town | AspenTimes.com

Roaring Fork presence felt in damaged town

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

PEARLINGTON, MISS. – Sharon Taverna and Yvette Powell of Carbondale were tugged toward this South Mississippi town even before it was targeted for relief by the Roaring Fork Valley.Both women have connections to Mississippi and wanted to contribute more than a few bucks to hurricane relief.”We had no reason to sit at home,” Powell said. So she and Taverna arranged to come to Pearlington for two weeks to help in any way. Wes Powell, Yvette’s husband, joined them.Nearly one week into their mission, they are helping serve two hot meals per day to roughly 300 homeless people and emergency service workers. They hooked up with the Bay Community Ministries of Dalphne, Ala. The organization sent a mobile kitchen and food but needed workers.The Carbondale contingent flushes out the day picking up trash, lugging supplies and doing whatever else is needed at a compound that provides the only organized civilization in the chaotic world of Pearlington. That compound, at the elementary school, serves as a homeless shelter, distribution center for tools and food, a clinic and a place to eat a hot meal.The Powells and Taverna have been overwhelmed by how appreciative people have been for so little after they lost so much.”Their faces light up because they know we’re taking care of them,” Powell said.She has particularly strong ties to the area. She lived as a kid in nearby Kiln and Bay St. Louis, the latter virtually wiped off the map by Hurricane Katrina. As they tour the region, what they see is beyond belief. “TV doesn’t do it justice,” Taverna said.Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley also have a more official presence at the distribution center. The Carbondale Rotary delivered a trailer full of camping supplies and tools Friday. The items were collected throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.Carbondale firefighters Terry McShane and Roger Ball also rolled in Friday with a travel trailer that will serve as a Roaring Fork Valley Emergency Communications Unit. The men will stay two weeks or longer to help residents any way they can and relay Pearlington’s specific and evolving needs back to the Roaring Fork Valley.Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt and Pitkin County joined Carbondale’s effort earlier this month to focus on providing aid to Pearlington.”We don’t want to run the place. We just want to help out,” Ball said.Wes Powell said the Roaring Fork Valley won’t run out of ways to aid Pearlington for a long, long time.”This effort has to go on for months,” he said. “People don’t realize that these people’s lives have been turned upside down.”Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com