An Urgent Appeal For Forgotten Katrina Victims

Guest contribution by Herb “Sarge” Phelps

Hurricane Katrina ravished Jackson County (also home
county of Senator Trent Lott), the coastal county
closest to Alabama, is faced with many major problems,
and I was able to obtain an interview with Jim Yancey,
Medical/Mental Health Branch Director/Unified Command
of Jackson County, Executive Director/Jackson County
Children’s Coalition (JCCC) Here is what I learned from
him

Background: We have had 9 teenage fatalities in Jackson
County since January of this year! Based on info from
our coroner, Vicki Broadus we have already had 20
suicides in Jackson County and we are only beginning
the month of August. For all of 2005 we had a total of
12 suicides. We expect the suicide rate to increase
200-300% for 2006. Sheriff Byrd reports that domestic
violence has increased in the county. In talking with
local law enforcement they report that alcohol and drug
abuse arrests are on the rise. These are all risk
factors associated with the aftermath of Post Katrina.
A FEMA representative informed the Unified Command of
Jackson County last fall that it took 2 years before
the mental health issues peaked after 911. We fully
expect our mental health issues to continue to rise
past the first anniversary date. Our agency(JCCC) has
completed 50 debriefings in the past 2 months alone to
help people cope with this regional tragedy. This is
what we need.

1. Funds to hire counselors, (Intensive Crisis
Counselors) to do home visits to attend to mental
health needs. People do not have the time or money to
schedule an appointment for counseling and then go to
an office to talk to someone. The majority of the
people on the Mississippi coast have 2 jobs. Their 8-10
hour job at the office and the job at home of
rebuilding their home or helping their family or a
neighbor rebuild. We know where many of these people
are located due to the work of our case managers,
however, we need to hire trained counselors to go into
the homes and FEMA trailers to assist with people coping
with everyday problems. 3 counselors needed: Funding for
these three positions: $138,600

2. Intake counselor to record information and give
information out: Funding: $22,000

3. Unmet needs. This is the group of people that have
fallen through the cracks that FEMA, MEMA, national
organizations, state organizations and other
organizations have missed. For example, a person with a
disability needs a wooden ramp build and attached to
his home. A woman needs the mold cleaned off her
ceiling in her trailer. A senior citizen had damage to
her home but not enough damage to be covered by any
agency or insurance and she has no money to repair her
home. The stories go on and on. This is a huge need!!
Our agency alone has had more than 75 of these cases
come across my desk. There are long term groups being
put together to address these needs, but we need the
funding now. We have volunteers on the ground from
churches outside Jackson County that are willing to
supply the manual labor required to complete the task.
Our agency located $117,000 through an agency in
Kentucky. That agency gave the money to one of our
volunteer centers (CORE) and they utilized the funds in
rebuilding a number of homes and assisting with unmet
needs.

Funding: $25,000 will begin to put a dent in the unmet
needs. We have a process in place to identify an unmet
need. We do not give money out. We use the funds to
rebuild what was there or clean out a place, or put a
roof on a home or a ramp for a disabled person.
More at Hurricane Center
————

Herb “Sarge” Phelps is a Political News Columnist for
PowersAndMorrison.com, he can be reached at:
sarge@powersandmorrison.com

Herb "Sarge" Phelps
http://www.theoldsarge.powersandmorrison.com

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