Poarch hosts recovery meeting

Published 5:25 am Monday, March 14, 2005

By by Lee Weyhrich
Escambia leads other coastal counties in disaster damage as well as disaster recovery and the big question for other counties was "Why".
The Long Term recovery committees of Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia, Washington, Monroe, Conecuh and Clarke counties met Friday at the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Auditorium to discuss the status of their combined recovery efforts.
When asked why Escambia county seemed to get more support from churches and the municipalities Carolyn M. White, chairperson of the Escambia County Long Term Recovery Committee gave a simple answer.
"Every church wants a mission, we told them this is your mission; it's your community," White said.
Local churches called their national counterparts and projects were assigned.
"At this time 181 projects have been completed in Atmore," Disaster Relief Coordinator of the Bay Area District of United Methodist Churches, Francis Forehand said.
His district covers five counties .
"We've had volunteers staying at the Youth House of First Church (First United Methodist Church of Atmore)," Forehand said. "We're trying to find another place in town if at all possible because the church needs the space. We can use a house, we can use a trailer."
Forehand's people are still using Atmore as a staging area for the five counties because Escambia received the largest amount of damage and Atmore's damage accounts for nearly half of the damage in the county.
"We've done over 300 projects in this district and 181 of them have been in Atmore," Forehand said. "Fifty-four of them have been in Brewton."
According to Forehand the Mennonites and the Lutherans have also played a big part in the areas recovery despite the fact that there is no area Lutheran church.
According to White, another reason for Escambia's success is the ability to connect with other recovery committees to share resources and ideas.
"This is another level that I think has been great for us to help them," White said. "They're just getting more information they can share. This disaster has created a lot of jobs for all of us. By networking we can get people to where they can be the most help. It stretches you thin but you keep on in the hopes that by the summer things can be back to normal."
Anthony Bishop from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) even volunteered to talk about a loan/grant program that could help a lot of people in rural south Alabama get back on their feet.
"The program is for cities with less than 10,000 population or small towns next to a city with a population of 20,000 or more," Bishop said.
The program would mainly help with lower income families or the elderly.
The various long term recovery committees are still asking for volunteers.
"Every little bit helps in the whole process," White said.

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