From The Mississippi Press
Pascagoula couple gives meaning to $1 donation
Thursday, September 06, 2007
By SARA FRYE
PASCAGOULA -- Sitting in the remnants of what used to be her shed, Mary Jones, 65, waits with the possessions she has left.
Her Pascagoula home was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, and it had to be demolished. All of her clothes are stored in a makeshift shed assembled from the remains of an existing structure and pieces of plywood. The small, open building is where she and her husband sit and watch the neighbors go by.
"We don't have no bad neighbors, that's one thing good about it," Mary Jones said. "We just sit out here and watch. That's what we're used to."
Mary and her husband, Oliver Jones, 64, can no longer stay in the Federal Emergency Management Agency travel trailer near the slab of their old house. Oliver Jones' pre-existing poor health was made worse by the formaldehyde in the trailer, Mary Jones said.
"My husband's been sick ever since we've been in it," Mary Jones said.
Oliver Jones suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and Lupus, said Mary Jones, and he has had three heart attacks since the storm. He had one heart attack before the storm.
Mary Jones is in the process of taking her possessions out of the FEMA trailer and putting them in her shed.
"The hardest part is I ain't got no house," Mary Jones said.
The volunteer organizations still working toward recovery in Mississippi came together to start a fund that would help the Jones' and the entire state recover from Hurricane Katrina.
The Finish the Job fund began on Aug. 31 to raise $1 from every American to finish the rebuilding of safe, sanitary and secure housing in Mississippi.
"If everyone in America gave a dollar, that would equal about $300 million," said Michelle Wilson executive director of Rebuild Jackson County Long Term Recovery Agency. "We figure that would be enough to finish the job in Mississippi."
The fund is designed to fill in the gaps from other funding sources, Wilson said, including furniture, utilities, surveys and elevators.
The Jones will need an elevator or a lift installed, when their home is built. The house will have to be elevated six feet off the ground and Oliver Jones will not be able to climb up stairs to his new home.
The funding sources that do exist will soon be moving on to help people suffering from other disasters, and so will the volunteers, Wilson said.
"We're running out of time, and we're running out of money. We need to get people back in their homes," Wilson said.
"Two years after the storm we're still finding families that have given up on finding funding or repairing their homes," said Vickie White, case manager supervisor for the United Methodist Disaster Response Team. "There's still a great need here for not only funding, but volunteers as well."
Before Rebuild Jackson County began helping the Jones, three weeks ago, they were waiting for a grant to come through.
PDA is working with Rebuild Jackson County and other Long Term Recovery agencies along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to spread the word about this fund! For more information about the Finish the Job Fund click here!