I can't really blame them, but it still makes me sick to think of it. It also underscores the level of anxiety and uncertainty we are facing with the upcoming storm season.
The Morrell Foundation, a Utah-based relief group, has announced plans to pull out by Saturday, leaving a void in the volunteer effort to rebuild this Katrina-torn county.
The Morrell Foundation built a relief village at Buccaneer State Park just after the Aug. 29 storm, and has since housed thousands of out-of-town volunteers here to help haul debris, rebuild homes and just about whatever else was needed. The group also helped repair local spirits through holiday festivals and other gatherings.
According to a press release, the group is leaving the beachfront park because of the looming hurricane season. Weather conditions earlier this month that pushed saltwater over the beachfront road made it "abundantly apparent that our facilities would be unsafe for future volunteers," the release said.
The people who were living in solid houses that got blown away by Katrina are now in FEMA trailers or tents or cars. Places that were once used as shelters either no longer exist or have been banned by the government for use as shelters. And even without another hurricane, there are still whole towns along the Mississippi Gulf Coast where there are few jobs and essentially nowhere to purchase basic necessities. Residents could always drive to Slidell to stock up, I suppose--if they happen to have working vehicles, gasoline, and money.
We're looking at a grim, hot summer with or without the volunteer organizations. The steady presence of volunteers at least brings psychological comfort and the reassurance that things are being done. It brings hope that there is a normal to return to.
To watch a big volunteer group leave...
I'm sure I don't have to explain the psychological effect.