CNCS last week kicked off its yearlong collaboration with the ABC television program “Good Morning America" and the Salvation Army to help rebuild the town of Pass Christian, Miss., by removing 355 tons of debris from a residential street located less than a hundred yards from where Hurricane Katrina came on shore in late August.
The storm – which hit the historic Gulf Coast town, located about 15 miles west of Biloxi, with winds of up to 145 miles per hour and a sea surge of nearly 30 feet – destroyed or left unusable nearly 75 percent of residents’ homes and 100 percent of the town’s businesses. In addition, much of the town’s infrastructure – including utilities, fire and police stations, city vehicles, and public works buildings – were destroyed.
To mark the start of the collaborative effort, more than 70 AmeriCorps members – including 30 from AmeriCorps St. Louis, 24 from the Washington State Conservation Corps, and 22 from Denver campus of AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) – participated in an intensive daylong cleanup of Seal Avenue. With support of dump trucks and heavy equipment provided by the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the AmeriCorps members removed 55 truckloads of brush and debris – approximately 355 tons’ worth – in less than a day. In addition, a team of AmeriCorps members helped local residents empty their homes of furniture, appliances, clothing, and personal effects that had been destroyed by mud, muck, and water.
“In times of crisis, citizens and volunteers make up the backbone of support for people and communities in need,” said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation. “It will take many months, if not years, to recover from such a devastating disaster. We applaud 'Good Morning America' for committing to helping rebuild Pass Christian, and we look forward to working with them and with our other partners to help this town, indeed the entire Gulf region, get back on its feet as quickly as possible."
Pass Christian is “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts’ hometown, which prompted the show to focus its efforts there. The Corporation was asked to be a partner because of its expertise in organizing and managing volunteers, its experience with disaster relief, and its proven ability to help people rebuild their homes and lives. Also participating in the rebuilding effort is the Salvation Army, which will help coordinate donations of money, goods, and services.