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It Takes a Winnebago

September 25, 2005

The City of Long Beach, Mississippi is located on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, just a few miles west of Gulfport and Biloxi. Founded in 1905, Long Beach celebrated its centennial just 3 weeks before Katrina came ashore.

Home to a branch campus of a state university, Long Beach experienced a massive storm surge estimated at over 30 feet above normal high tide, which wiped hundreds of home from their foundations and created debris piles hundreds of yards inland.

As reported in the Gazette (September 22-28, 2005), local volunteers have loaded a donated Winnebago with relief supplies and driven it the Mississippi Gulf Coast to deliver the mobile home to Lutheran-Episcopal Services in North Jackson, MS, a major staging area for the Katrina recovery work. The Winnebago serves as both delivery van and short term housing for relief workers or a displaced family.

Croton houses of worship raised almost $2,000 over the weekend of September 16 and 17 in order to make the 1984 Winnebago road worthy and well stocked with appropriate supplies. In addition, the proprietor of a Croton service station donated a full tank of gasoline.

Upon arriving in Mississippi, the van’s drivers reported it had achieved circa 6.5 miles per gallon. The Winnebago will be left behind for the local authorities to deploy as they think best.

Tax-deductible donations to this effort may be care of St. Augustine’s Church, 6 Old Post Road, Croton-on-Hudson NY 10520, with “Katrina-Winnebago Fund” written on the memo line. All funds will go to the relief effort.

Please find more information about the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Long Beach community at these websites:

On November 3, 2005 12:08 PM, Ross W. said:

Laura Seitz asked me to post this on her behalf:

November 1, 2005

Dear Neighbor,

We have all seen the pictures of the devastation in the South after Hurricane Katrina. Even though the pictures don’t make the nightly news any more, the problems have not gone away. Concerned Croton residents have formed the Croton Katrina Relief Committee, a diverse group representing numerous churches and temples as well as secular organizations and local government.

So far, our group has done a lot. Carl Grimm from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship secured a Winnebago. Group members affiliated with St. Augustine Episcopal Church obtained the funding to repair the Winnebago and donated money for the gas to get it down there. Carl Grimm, Cornelia Cotton and Don Madura drove to Long Beach, Mississippi, where they distributed necessary relief supplies donated by our neighbors, which filled the Winnebago. Friends and members of Temple Israel filled a large truck with vital supplies, which were driven to Mississippi and distributed to those in need.

We are in close contact with the communities we have assisted. They tell us what is most needed now is a van to house a mobile medical unit. Dozens of doctors and nurses have volunteered their time to provide medical assistance. They need the van to drive to communities to deliver much-needed medical services for children and adults who have no transportation and no other access to medical help.

We are looking for a van, one that holds six to eight people would be best, that can be donated to this relief effort. It need not be new; a used vehicle is fine though they really do need it to be air-conditioned. For tax purposes, the van may be donated to St. Augustine’s Parish in Croton. We will once again fill it with necessary supplies and get it down to the affected region.

We are writing to see if you might be able to help us and the thousands of Americans in need by donating a van to our effort. We will be sure to let everyone in our parishes, temples and organizations know of this kindness. If you have an appropriate vehicle, please call Teri Lukin, Chair, Social Concerns Committee, Unitarian Fellowship of Briarcliff, Croton and Ossining, at (914) 271-2098.

Many thanks in advance for your kindness and consideration.

Sincerely,

Laura Seitz, Chair Croton Katrina Relief Committee

On September 29, 2005 11:10 AM, TeaDrinker said:

Laura Seitz asked me to post this on her behalf:

A number of people who were inspired by the Winnebago effort came together last Thursday to explore the possibility of establishing a relationship with a village or town in Mississippi to help them through the long term relief and rebuilding effort that will be necessary. They understood that cities get lots of publicity and help but that villages are often wiped out permanently. The group included representatives from the houses of worship, the firemen, and both political parties.

Several other village organizations have expressed interest but were unable to send someone on short notice. The library, the schools, the village government, and the Caring Committee fell in this category.

There was general enthusiasm for pursuing long-term outreach to a companion village. It was thought that perhaps Long Beach should be that village but more information was needed. Carl Grimm and Cornelia Cotton will be coming back soon from delivering the Winnebago with more information.

Other people had contacts that also will be considered. There was a rumor that 1 to 2000 people might be coming to Camp Smith and if that were so, the group was prepared to refocus their efforts in that direction. It has since been learned that so far no one from the south has signed up for the Camp Smith option.

The group continues to reach out to the community to attract more participants, to investigate a suitable companion city, and to plan a Village-wide coming together event.

Four people were chosen as a steering committee: Carol Shanesy (271-7645), Cathy Elliott (271-9522), David Tuttle (271-7669), and Laura Seitz (271-3265).

On September 27, 2005 11:11 AM, Ty said:

The field report from Team Winnebago in Long Beach MS:

We arrived here last evening after stopping in Huntsville, Alabama, for 2 days, waiting for Hurricane Rita to calm down.

Weather was still rather iffy, with strong gusts and occasional thunderstorms, but no tornadoes. First glimpse of Katrina’s wrath — the moment we crossed into Mississippi — was sign welcoming visitors. It was bent and broken. From then on, evidence mounted: collapsed billboards, roofs covered with tarps, destroyed houses, uprooted trees, snapped off limbs and trunks. Gradually, the sides of the roads were heaped with fallen trees and debris of all kinds. The closer we got to the Gulf, the more devastation was to be seen on all sides.

Our destination, the Coast Episcopal School, has a large campus with a good-sized gym — the latter being the headquarters of the Long Beach Katrina relief effort by the Episcopal and Lutheran Synod. We were welcomed warmly by the site director, an Episcopal priest. Other priests, both male and female, are active here, and most of the volunteers are Episcopalians; a few are Lutherans.

People are incredibly friendly, and always cheerful and courteous. Good meals, prepared in a mobile Viking field kitchen, are served in the hall, where many volunteers also sleep at night. Bathrooms for men and women have been built quickly. A large tent houses the donations of food, bedding, cleaning supplies, household goods, baby stuff and grooming items.

A medical tent, staffed by doctors, nurses, emergency medical personnel and pharmacists, ministers to peoples’ health needs and prescriptions. There are generators to provide electricity and air conditioning, and a special internet trailer provides computers.

All this has been set up and is being run in the most harmonious, kindly way. There is no red tape, and there is hardly any hierarchy – the priests work alongside everybody else, and volunteers pitch in wherever they are needed.

The purpose of this group is not to house or clothe the victims of Katrina, but to supply them with food and the things they need in their daily lives. Cleaning and rescuing their houses, if possible, is also on the agenda.

People of Long Beach — many of whom have lost everything — simply come to the center and take what they need, and get medical attention if that is indicated.

The Winnebago got a lot of attention. People are very impressed that it came all the way from New York, and that it is a gift. The immediate use, after we leave, will be as a residence for a local priest whose house was washed away. Ten parish churches along the Gulf Coast have disappeared. Eventually, it will become a home for a family.

This letter is getting pretty long. Part of the reason is that the internet trailer is air-conditioned, which is quite a relief. Southern Mississippi in September is fiercely hot and humid. This takes some getting used to.

Other than the weather and those black flies we are having one of the most rewarding times of our lives.



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