Cities come together in wake of Hurricane Katrina

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 28, 2006

In the face of chaos following Hurricane Katrina’s path ofdestruction through Mississippi, communities nationwide respondedto assist in restoring order in Lincoln and surroundingcounties.

Three communities that share the Brookhaven, Lincoln County andMonticello names responded to help their sister cities inMississippi while others also stepped forward to provide neededsupplies or relieve overwhelmed professional workers.

A team of six volunteer paramedics from Brookhaven, N.Y.,arrived on Sept. 8 to provide relief to overworked Lincoln Countyemergency medical technicians. The South Country Ambulance Servicevolunteers paid for the trip themselves and were quickly integratedinto the local rotation to provide transport to Jackson medicalfacilities, answer 911 calls and standby at American Red Cross atdistribution points.

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“This is a tough community,” Miglino said at the time. “I willnever forget this place. Brookhaven’s kindness in the face oftragedy will inspire me for the rest of my life.”

The Brookhaven, N.Y., firefighters also presented theMississippi city with their city flag during their September 2005visit. A delegation of four Brookhaven, Miss., EMTs returned thefavor in March when they attended an awards ceremony hosted by theNew York paramedics honoring the courage and sacrifice of theMississippi emergency response personnel.

A radio campaign in Lincoln County, N.M., raised more than$4,000 for two local charitable organizations helping Katrinaevacuees. Brookhaven Outreach Ministries and the Brookhaven FoodPantry benefited from the effort, which was led by Harold Oakes,general manager of Walton Stations in New Mexico.

Sister cities don’t always have to share a name, however.

Park City, Ill., Mayor Steve Pannell and other city officialsarrived in Brookhaven Sept. 11 with an 18-wheeler trailer of itemsdonated by residents of the northeastern Illinois community. Asecond trailer filled with items made the 32-hour round trip thenext week.

Both loads were delivered to the American Red Cross distributionwarehouse, which served as a distribution point for 13 shelters insix southwest Mississippi counties.

Pannell, a native of Booneville, Miss., said the Park City boardof aldermen unanimously approved a resolution to adopt Brookhavenand to send the trucks.

“We’re a small community with a big heart,” Pannell said at thetime about the community of approximately 6,700 citizens.

Pete Karlovocs, the city’s attorney, learned of Brookhaven’splight while negotiating a 911 contract for the city’s newcourthouse. Brookhaven’s David Sullivan represented the winningcontract. Sullivan told him of the damage in Brookhaven as well asthe citizens’ desire to help evacuees from the hurricane.

Pannell said the city leaders were impressed with Brookhaven’sefforts to help others further south despite its own problems anddecided to assist.

A team of doctors from Indiana on Sept. 14, formed a HurricaneKatrina Medical Relief Clinic across from King’s Daughters MedicalCenter Clinic to provide free medical assistance to those displacedby the hurricane.

The team of 18 included six doctors, a nurse practitioner, fournurses, a counselor and several assistants. The doctors were allpart of residency programs at three major hospitals in the FortWayne, Ind., area.

The clinic also rotated doctors every few days to Long Beach toassist residents there.

Indiana, on Sept. 2, also supplied 160 Army National Guardsoldiers from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 152 Infantry Regiment toseven area counties.

The guardsmen assisted Lincoln County law enforcement and civildefense volunteers with ice, water and meal distribution, trafficcontrol and security measures.

In Lawrence County, nine residents of the City of Monticello,Ill., made the trek to Monticello, Miss., Sept. 19 in a caravanthat included a fire truck, a dump truck, several privately ownedvehicles and a satellite news van to deliver disaster reliefsupplies to their sister city.

The fire truck was among items donated while the dump truck wasused to haul other items and returned home. Monticello, Ill., witha population of nearly 5,500 people, had retired the 1981 firetruck the month before and Mayor Bill Mitze said it was onlyfitting that it stay in a Monticello.

The fire truck has allowed the town to more aggressively attackfires in both the city and county, but it is on county responsesthat it has been most helpful, said Monticello, Miss., Mayor DaveNichols.

Prior to Katrina, the department could only respond to countycalls with one truck because they needed one at the station readyto respond to city needs. Now, with three trucks, they can dispatcha 1,000-gallon truck and the Piatt County, Ill., truck.

“It allows us to bring another 750 gallons to every fire we goto in the county,” Nichols said.

Among the items donated from the Piatt County city were tarpsfor damaged houses, nonperishable goods and school supplies. Itemsthat could not be used in Lawrence County were sent south to othercommunities.

Before the end of the year, Monticello, Ill., made anothercontribution to Monticello, Miss., with the donation of a25-passenger bus with handicap access ramp to the Lawrence CountyBoys and Girls Club.

Plans to host a fireworks display in Monticello, Ill., to showMississippians appreciation to the donators had to be postponeduntil next year, Nichols said.