Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Thursday, August 31

Legal Team Sees More Work to Do, Says Recovery Leaves Out Poor


The Witness Delegation Project, a team of volunteer lawyers, community leaders and activists, is touring the Coast, noting what it considers continuing disparities in Katrina recovery between the haves and have-nots.

"We decided that on this one-year anniversary of Katrina we would bring this delegation back to some of the areas where we previously managed to stop unlawful evictions and exposed the way people were being treated and advised them of their rights," Jaribu Hill of the Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights and the Magnolia Bar Association said Tuesday. "While President Bush is here and while (Gov.) Haley Barbour is saying we are rebuilding and people are living better - we just don't see it. The recovery is leaving large segments of people out."

Hill said there are still many cases of "unscrupulous behavior" by landlords, hiking up rents or evicting people who have valid leases, and that many migrant workers are living in "deplorable conditions." "Some of the contractors are cramming 15 people into a trailer," Hill said.

The project makes legal and other assistance available. For more information, or to report problems, call 1-888-949-9754 or (662) 334-1122 or go to

Wednesday, August 30


The Sun Herald

Commemorations began before sunrise in Waveland, a town Hurricane Katrina destroyed. They continued throughout the day across the Coast, in churches, on town greens and in the hearts of those who survived Aug. 29, 2005.

In South Mississippi, 169 souls were lost. Two, as yet unidentified, were buried Tuesday near the remains of three unknown women Hurricane Camille claimed 37 years ago.

Political leaders, first-responders and volunteers from around the nation stood with Coast residents, as they have since the storm, to mark this day.

U.S. Sen. Trent Lott's voice cracked as he told a Biloxi crowd he had never been prouder during 38 years of public service.

Lott, who lost his Pascagoula home, said, "You have shown America the strength, the tenacity and the love you have. America sees us differently now."

Video of President Bush's Visit to MS Gulf Coast

Complete Katrina Anniversary Coverage by The Sun Herald

Tuesday, August 29

Sounds, Sights of Building, Rebuilding Refresh Our Spirit

By the afternoon of Aug. 29, 2005, it was clear the Mississippi Coast had been obliterated. Thousands of structures had been washed away in the great surge that destroyed so many homes, businesses, landmarks, personal treasures and lives.
But Hurricane Katrina did not destroy the hopes, dreams, memories or the will to survive that has sustained coastal Mississippians through the centuries.

Despite total devastation - the worst natural disaster in American history - no one, at least no one who knew these Mississippians, doubted they would rebuild and in time triumph, even in the face of Katrina's terrible toll.

Twelve months later remarkable progress has been made, yet there is so much to do... literally years of toil ahead.Still you know it will be done. Much like these first 365, it is being done one day at a time, with methodical precision and through the power of backbone and bootstrap, and with the helping hands of a generous nation and world.

For millennia people have been coming down to the bountiful waters of the Mississippi Sound and the tranquil bays, bayous and rivers of the Coast. They are drawn to the wondrous beauty, and the sustenance for life found there - fish, shrimp and oysters - in quantity and quality found in few places.

They have had a good life at water's edge, and the cycle of life on its shore has been enjoyable, though tenuous.

Katrina was not the first, nor will she be the last, of the hurricanes to visit here. They are a part of our very existence, in a season each year whose beginning and end are never far from our conscious thought, even if they sometimes do not occur for decades, such as the period between 1916 and 1947 when there were none.

Now, we are told by the experts, the earth is in a cycle in which numerous storms are expected each year. We would not challenge that theory after the last two years, when we have seen them come in rapid succession. Time and time again we were in the so-called cone of uncertainty, which required a constant alertness to the possibility of destruction.
It takes a special people - people who never say die; people who will not be defeated - to live in the shadow of such uncertainty. They are best called "survivors," for staying on and rebuilding is in the DNA of such people.

Each generation, it seems, is tested by the great storms. If one generation would simply walk away from the danger there would be only sand and silence here. Yet the human footprint remains a part of the Mississippi Coast, because these are survivors.

Some of the most-damaging storms ever have struck this Coast hard, yet there was never a thought of not rebuilding.

After Camille it would have been easier to leave or quit than it was to stay and fight again on these shores.

So there is a chain of generations, one linked to the other through the ages by example of rebuilding. Grandparents did it, parents did it, so now, after Katrina, it will be done again. There was no debate about that.

People's toughness and strength were never doubted, but the stories of courage, heroism and selflessness that flow through the history books under the chapter dated Aug. 29, 2005 are the stuff of legend. They will become the lore of this generation and will be given to the next as an inheritance of riches collectively owned by South Mississippians. It is not riches of wealth, but of self-worth and self confidence.

But of course this story of survival did not end Aug. 29; that was just the beginning of this saga. Just because a person or a family was still standing at the end of the day Katrina came ashore did not mean they would survive the first week, month or year.

The immediate obstacles were extraordinary. Food, shelter and medical supplies were not to be had, and the heat of the next weeks was overwhelming. Getting through that period was the sprint, the short race; the marathon would follow.

Once the matter of survival in the immediate sense was fought for and won, then came the long fight, which for many, continues.

The battles over insurance, and or gaining a FEMA trailer, and then the long, stifling existence in such confinement, would test the most hardy.

In some ways the battles of the spirit have been more challenging than those of the flesh. The setbacks have been many and often it seemed there have been as many steps backward as forward.

Yet they continue, these survivors, each finding happiness and encouragement in their own victories and the victories of others.

The greening of the great oaks was a thrilling sight, and the glorious crops of sunflowers and crape myrtles have been a sign of renewal.

The waters still produce their fruit and generations renew the ritual of families bringing home a supper of mullet or trout. The crabs and shrimp and oysters are a respite from the Spam and peanut butter sandwiches of the earliest days.

The spirit of the Coast is refreshed by the sound and sights of building and rebuilding. There is a welcome crop of new homes all around us, though with a different look - one that pays homage to the great surge. The thud of hammers and the electric hum of drills and saws is the music of progress.

But no sound is more thrilling than those cries of the "Katrina babies" who have been a blessing of these days, coming forth into a world that changed so much on that awful late-August day. They know no other world and are content with the life and legacy given them by their survivor families. They are the firstborns of the new era, and they will inherit that spirit and build a future Coast we can only imagine.

Life, death and hurricanes are certainties of existence on the Mississippi Coast. So, too, is the notion of surviving against odds that may seem to some too great to comprehend. But not here - not ever.

The Sun Herald

Gov. Barbour Releases “One Year After Katrina: Progress Report on Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal”

Governor Haley Barbour today announced the release of the Katrina report, “One Year After Katrina: Progress Report on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal.”

The report outlines the state’s efforts and major accomplishments in recovery since the landfall of Hurricane Katrina one year ago. It explains actions taken and funds used to confront recovery problems in categories such as housing, public infrastructure, economic development, human services, public safety, and environmental restoration and natural storm defenses. A discussion of initial efforts and important next steps is also included.

The report can be downloaded from Governor Barbour’s website, or click the image at the right.

Gov. Barbour Proclaims Mourning Period Through Sept. 1st - Flags Flown at Half-Mast

Here is the text of Gov. Haley Barbour's executive order for a period of mourning for Hurricane Katrina victims:

WHEREAS, on the morning of August 29, 2005, Mississippi was struck by Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in American history; and

WHEREAS, at landfall the brunt of the hurricane's destructive force was unleashed on the Mississippi Coast, wiping out more than 80 miles of coastline and leaving in its wake 70,000 uninhabitable, often obliterated homes and destroying thousands of small businesses, schools, public buildings and infrastructure such as highways, ports, railroads, and water and sewer systems; and

WHEREAS, the storm continued inland for more than 150 miles, changing forever the State's physical landscape; and

WHEREAS, the level of devastation to human life and property was unprecedented with more than 230 Mississippians losing their lives to the fury of the storm; and

WHEREAS, the anniversary of the first year since Katrina is an appropriate time to memorialize the lives lost; and

WHEREAS, the prayers of the people of the State are with the families and friends of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, NOW, THEREFORE, I, Haley Barbour, by the authority vested in me as Governor by the Constitution and laws of the State of Mississippi, do hereby proclaim a period of official mourning in the State of Mississippi and do hereby order all flags of the United States of America and the State of Mississippi be flown at half-staff on all buildings and grounds of the State of Mississippi and all areas under its jurisdiction beginning August 29, 2006, and ending September 1, 2006.

Governor Haley Barbour

Monday, August 28

HUD Approves $100 Million for Coast Public Housing

More than 2,500 public housing units in South Mississippi were damaged or destroyed when Hurricane Katrina made landfall nearly one year ago. Today, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson approved a $100 million plan to restore these public housing units on at least a “one-to-one basis.”

Funded through $5 billion HUD previously allocated to the state through the Department’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, Mississippi intends to provide grants to public housing authorities in Biloxi, Bay St. Louis, Waveland, and Long Beach. In addition, the CDBG funding will help to redevelop damaged or destroyed public housing properties in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties.

“This is a direct investment in the homes of low- and very low-income families who once called these public housing developments home,” said Jackson. “Any long-term strategy to rebuild South Mississippi communities must include lower income families and this plan does.”

Governor Barbour said, “HUD’s announcement today is a milestone in our efforts to restore essential public housing stock in Hurricane Katrina-stricken areas of South Mississippi. The new construction and rebuilding work these funds will support means low- and very low-income families can once again take advantage of affordable housing in communities that are better protected than ever from future storms. I deeply appreciate Secretary Jackson's approval of the State's plan and look forward to its speedy implementation.”

Mississippi’s CDBG-funded plan will distribute grants to each housing authority based on the proportionate damage done to their respective housing stock. The housing authorities receiving these grants may use the funding to leverage other available resources in developing affordable housing targeting low- and very low-income residents.
The housing authorities may use the grants to rebuild and/or repair units that existed before the storm or to develop new multi-family properties that contain replacement units that target persons or families who earn 60 percent or less of the area’s median income. To qualify for a grant, each housing authority must agree to a number of conditions, including:

• Offer displaced public housing residents first priority in reoccupying new or repaired units • Agree to a new damage assessment from a State-provided assessor• Maintain at least the same number of affordable housing units that were offered prior to the storm• Meet International Building Code (IBC) standards or local building requirements (whichever is more stringent) for all new units• Elevate new units in accordance with FEMA flood maps and offer accessibility for persons with disabilities• Maintain 100 percent insurance coverage on replacement values of the property.

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development, and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and For more information about FHA products, please visit

President Bush Makes 13th Visit to Coast Today

President Bush marks the anniversary of the hurricane that still haunts his presidency with worries a new tropical storm could bring the first test of his promise that the botched post-Katrina response will not be repeated.

As Ernesto cut a path through the Caribbean, Bush prepared for a visit Monday and Tuesday to the region that is little recovered from Hurricane Katrina's devastating strike last August. Forecasters believe Ernesto, which grew into the first hurricane of the season Sunday and then weakened back to a tropical storm, will emerge with some force into the Gulf of Mexico later this week.

Bush's trip is his 13th to the Gulf Coast since Katrina, and his first in over three months. The highlights this time are a pair of speeches, one each in Mississippi and Louisiana.
He wasn't bringing any new aid announcements or fresh policy proposals. Instead, the president was hoping the addresses would persuade local residents and doubters elsewhere that he remains committed to seeing the region rebuilt better than before.

On one matter that has become a subject of some finger-pointing between Washington and the region, aides said Bush would stress that the states and local governments need to do their part to get federal money to victims -- an unmistakable jab at leaders in Louisiana and New Orleans, where federal money for citizens to rebuild homes has not yet begun flowing.
So far, Congress has approved $110 billion in hurricane aid. The Bush administration has released $77 billion to the states, reserving the rest for future needs, but $33 billion of that has not yet been spent.

Bush's itinerary looks a lot like previous trips, many of which have been criticized as featuring too much staged contact with supportive locals and overly dominated by meetings with officials. He is spending a little more time freely roaming harder-hit Mississippi than New Orleans. On Monday, after lunching with community leaders in Biloxi, Mississippi, he was to walk through a damaged neighborhood and visit a Gulfport company that builds and repair boats. He was ending the day in New Orleans, for dinner with state and local officials.
Copyright 2006 The
Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Volunteers From Everywhere Reach Out to Mississippi

In South Mississippi's hurricane-devastated communities, their presence and their contribution can be heard in the echo of hammer against nail.

Thousands of volunteers continue to answer the call to service, lending their professional skills and collective manpower to rebuild homes and assist in needed public services in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

American Red Cross, Salvation Army and AmeriCorps volunteers, as well as skilled first-responders, medical professionals, college students, faith-based groups and so many others, answered the call before and after the storm made landfall.

Sharon Lepper, a registered nurse and clinical nurse educator at Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis, took a two-month leave in September to volunteer for the Mississippi State Nurses Association.

She traveled to Meridian to care for 62 nursing-home patients evacuated from Pascagoula and Bay St. Louis, came to Biloxi to relieve overworked nurses at Biloxi Regional Hospital and worked at a free clinic at Bethel Lutheran Church.

Lepper was back on the Coast in February with more volunteers to work on houses, and she plans to return again in the fall. "I won't stop coming back because my heart is there," she said.
While working with Biloxi Regional Medical Center and others, Lepper saw South Mississippi residents and businesses take extra steps to help neighbors and it inspired her to share South Mississippi's story in her hometown.

"They were doing what was morally correct, even if it was a sacrifice on their part," Lepper said. "It gave me a sense of pride for the state of Mississippi. There is just so much kindness there."
Legal professionals nationwide also have dedicated their time to helping South Mississippi residents survive the chaos of the post-Katrina housing market and the rash of landlord-tenant legal disputes.

Officials in the state Office of Volunteerism estimate more than 250 organizations nationwide have deployed volunteers to assist in Coast relief and recovery. Many of the relief organizations, sponsored by churches and nonprofit organizations from across the country, have shifted from relief duties to long-haul recovery work. A year after the hurricane, getting residents back in homes continues to be the main goal.

In D'Iberville, more than 450 properties have been completed by volunteers, whether they have been minor home repairs or complete overhauls, and another 300 properties are in the pipeline for work.

Over the year, residents' needs have changed, but they have not stopped. One way to understand the continuing need is to count the number of blue tarps still strapped to rooftops, said Ed Cake, associate director of D'Iberville Volunteer Foundation. Cake explained those with some financial means to rebuild have made repairs; homes with tarps still blowing in the wind a year after the storm belong to residents without needed financial or emotional means to start their recovery.

"Sometimes the asking hurts. Sometimes they don't know to ask. But they come in every week and we continue to serve," Cake said. 'They are wide-eyed'

Mike Malkemes, camp director for CORE stationed at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Ocean Springs, said volunteers at the camp have changed with the seasons. During the first wave immediately after the storm, most volunteers were retirees with experience in disaster response. During the spring, thousands of college students volunteered during their breaks from classes and now, many families with school-aged children have volunteered their summer vacations. Craftsmen have continuously volunteered.

CORE, which is sponsored by two Houston, Texas, churches, was set up by the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center. In February, relief missions shifted to rebuilding when crews of volunteers were sent to clean out and improve homes. About 8,600 volunteers have worked through the camp, totaling 500,000 volunteer work hours.

"The impact has been phenomenal," Malkemes said. "So many people are repeat visitors. We had so many people answer God's call." Volunteers, traveling solo or with schools, work outfits, congregations and other nonprofit groups, have fanned out across South Mississippi and many have returned and recruited others to assist more families.

Ed Lauge, a 23-year-old senior studying computer technology, traveled to the Coast with a group of Kent State University students, faculty and staff members from Ohio to rebuild homes in Pass Christian and Biloxi. "I really wanted to take some time off and make a difference," Lauge said. "I was blown away by the sheer amount of debris on the ground. It was like a war zone."

Tammy Clark, a youth minister at First United Methodist Church in Valparaiso, Ind., made her first volunteer trip in September and returned in late July with a group of 20 young adults from the church. "It has just been a beautiful image of people working together," Clark said, comparing Coast rebuilding with the Old Testament tale of the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

Volunteers receive instruction on home-repair basics, but preparing them to experience a spiritual revelation is also important, said the Rev. Art Baruffi, director of Christian Life Center in Bay St. Louis. Baruffi estimates of the 3,000 to 4,000 volunteers, 90 percent are from more than 1,000 miles away. "Their zeal - there's no difference. They are wide-eyed. The change that happens to them is bigger than what they do," Baruffi said, describing how many volunteers feel God's primary work is in people and God's secondary work is performed through people.

"We have seen amazing life changes," Baruffi said, describing residents' graciousness and gratitude, which has left a lasting impression on volunteers. "They have lost everything and they have come to see what is really important." For residents attempting to rebuild, volunteers continue to fill a void.

"The volunteers that have come to help have made the terrible not just bearable, but joyous," said Martha Murphy of Pass Christian.


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Debris Removal Fraud Charges Leveled

According to U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton, four individuals have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the federal government involving the creation and submission of false, fraudulent and fictitious Hurricane Katrina debris removal load slips totaling $716,677.

The indicted include Allen Kitto, 24, of Dundee, Fla., Clinton K. Miller, 28, of Carriere, Devin Chuter, 23, of Picayune and Lauren Robertson, 23, of Picayune.
The indictment charges the Kitto owned and operated J.A.K. DC&ER Inc., a debris removal contracting company working as a subcontractor in Pearl River County. Miller, Chuter and Robertson worked for a debris removal monitoring company that also worked in Pearl River County.

Lampton said Chuter and Robertson signed false debris load slips misrepresenting that debris was loaded on trucks when both were not present at the loading site, and often created and signed false load slips at their residences.

The false debris load slips misrepresented that the loads of debris were delivered to a designated dump site in Pearl River County when no debris was delivered or dumped.

Miller collected the false load slips from his co-conspirators and submitted them to the debris removal monitoring company, which, in turn, would submit them to the prime contractor for payment to Kitto. Kitto would deposit the funds into a bank account opened in the name of one of his employees, and then write a check to an un-indicted co-conspirator, who would cash the check and give the cash to Kitto and Miller. Miller would then pay Chuter and Robertson for creating and signing the false load slips along with an extra amount of money that Dunn termed "hush money."

The maximum penalty is five years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Friday, August 25

USM Continues to Rebuild

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) continues to make progress to restore both the Hattiesburg and Long Beach campuses that were heavily damaged last year by Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina caused more than $200 million in damages to the university, devastating the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus in Long Beach and other university research and teaching sites. In addition to structural damage, the university also incurred losses of research and equipment.

To date, the Business Complex, Holloway Complex, Physical Plant Building and the Shipping and Receiving building have been repaired. The AEC and library have been gutted and are ready to be restored. Electrical service has been restored to the north end of campus including the AEC and library. Temporary water and sewerage services are available for the library, AEC, Business Complex, Holloway Complex and the Physical Plant.

USM's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) in Ocean Springs sustained approximately $13 million in damages to buildings, contents and collections (not including research and intellectual property). Restoration of the fisheries, research and Caylor buildings, all flooded by the 20-plus-foot storm surge, is in the final stages. To date, all remaining buildings except the Toxicology Building, Parasitology Wet Lab and the Maturation Building have been restored. Temporary modular units have replaced lost classrooms and teaching labs of the Hopkins Building. The GCRL Physical Plant has re-established its shop in a storage building with offices in the dormitory. Projects are underway to replace destroyed greenhouse buildings that were used for marine aquaculture and marine botany research. Marine finfish aquaculture projects wiped out at the main GCRL campus have restarted in buildings at Cedar Point with additional facilities under construction.

The J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium at Point Cadet was destroyed and has been demolished. It has relocated to the GCRL grounds and modular units house four classrooms.

Total damage on the Hattiesburg campus came to approximately $20 million. Facility damage primarily involved roof and fencing. Forty buildings have had roofs either repaired or completely replaced and the roofs of six landmark structures are to be replaced, including the Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building, the Powell Ogletree Alumni House, the Peck House, Hattiesburg Hall, the Fritzche-Gibbs Building and the Human Performance and Recreation Building.

Thursday, August 24

Lowe's to offer Katrina Cottages

Lowe's Companies Inc. has finalized a licensed agreement with designer Marianne Cusato to be the exclusive retailer of housing plans and associated building materials needed to construct Katrina Cottages. Four designs of the cottages will be initially available in Lowe's stores throughout Mississippi and Louisiana.

"Lowe's is committed to the rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast, and we believe this is a tremendous opportunity for area residents to establish a permanent place to call their own," said Larry D. Stone, senior executive vice president of merchandising and marketing at Lowe's.

Katrina Cottages, developed by Cusato in conjunction with a team of leading architects from around the United States including architect and town planner Andres Duany, are designed to withstand heavy rain and winds up to 140 miles per hour, meet most hurricane codes and the International Building Code. The first four plans Lowe's intends to offer its customers range from 544 square feet to 936 square feet. Some of the plans are designed to grow as large as 1,200 square feet, though a limited number of additional designs at 1,340 square feet are forthcoming.

Lowe's said it expects the Katrina Cottage plans to be available in select Mississippi and Louisiana stores beginning in late fall of 2006. For more information about the original Katrina Cottage, visit

Wednesday, August 23

MS Forestry Commission Announces Urban Forestry Grants

The Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) is accepting tree planting grant applications for the 2006 Katrina Urban Forestry Grant Program. Grant applications will be accepted through three batch periods, September 1, 2006, December 1, 2006, and March 1, 2007.

The Katrina Urban Forestry Grant Program provides grants to eligible participants for the purpose of planting trees & tree replacement, tree remediation work, tree inventory & assessments, and urban forestry information & education projects.

“The Katrina Urban Forestry Grant Program is a great example of state and federal agencies working together with local governments for the betterment of the residents of Mississippi’s cities, towns and communities,” said State Forester Charlie Morgan.

Proposed urban forestry projects must have a direct relationship to Hurricane Katrina damage in urban communities. Any unit of state or local government is eligible to apply for a Katrina Urban Forestry Grant. Awarded grants range from $1,000 to $50,000. Grants may cover up to 100% of the total project cost with no matching requirements.

A grant information packet is available at the MFC’s website: Grant packets are also available from the MFC’s Conservation Education & Public Outreach Office by calling the above phone numbers.

The Katrina Urban Forestry Grant Program is a partnership program between the MFC and the USDA Forest Service.

Tuesday, August 22

Home Again Provides Shelter

The Home Again program is aiding homeowners in this Mississippi Gulf Coast city that was heavily impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The program was created by Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise), Neighborworks America and Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/Hope Credit Union (ECD/HOPE) with $1.3 million from the Rebuild the Coast Fund, a charity founded by Renee and John Grisham, the Home Depot Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Thirty-six homeowners whose homes were completely destroyed in the center of Pass Christian around Second, North and Henderson streets were chosen to participate in the Home Again program based on income level and projected rebuilding costs. Eight factory-built homes have already been placed in the first phase of the Home Again modular home program. The program will provide a total of 34 modular homes for community residents.

According to Carolina Building Solutions, manufacturer of the Pass Christian-bound homes, these structures are constructed to be wind resistant and are also energy efficient. They can also be completed much more quickly than a traditionally built home, requiring only 30 days to complete from initial order to final assembly.

Modular homes continued to arrive in the neighborhood through the beginning of August. The homes require assembly on site and some finishing construction to make it move-in ready. The process takes approximately two weeks.

Tuesday, August 15

Working Your Way Back Home Program Launches

The "Working Your Way Back Home" initiative, a program funded by the U. S. Department of Labor and administered by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) in partnership with Manpower Inc., has kicked off.

"This is a collaborative effort between MDES and Manpower to help displaced residents who, due to Hurricane Katrina, were forced to evacuate to a safer environment but now want to return to their homes and rejoin the Mississippi workforce," said Gov. Haley Barbour. "By helping to bring back skilled workers needed to fill jobs for rebuilding the Gulf Coast and South Mississippi, this initiative will be valuable to both displaced families and Mississippi businesses."

The "Working Your Way Back Home" program provides assistance to Mississippians who evacuated to areas at least 151 miles from their place of residence as a result of Katrina. Through the network of WIN Job Centers, these individuals may receive assistance with job placement or occupational training, as well as funds to pay for relocation expenses. These funds are made available through a Workforce Investment Act National Emergency Grant.

For more information, contact a WIN Job Center, or call toll-free 1-888-844-3577. Additional information can be found at

Monday, August 14

Volunteers Needed for Coastal Cleanup

Volunteers in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties are needed for the 18th-annual Mississippi Coastal Cleanup to be held from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. September 16. The event will be held in conjunction with the International Coastal Cleanup, the world's largest volunteer cleanup effort on behalf of the marine environment.

Volunteers will pick up marine debris at more than 40 designated coastal cleanup sites (zones) in all three counties and the barrier islands.

Registration deadline for the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup is September 1. Registration is available on-line at, or registration forms can be obtained by calling (228) 467-9048 in Hancock County, (228) 523-4141 in Harrison County, (228) 872-8340 in Jackson County, (228) 217-2035 or (228) 875-4424 in Ocean Springs, (228) 875-9057 extension 111 or extension 108 for the Barrier Islands (requires boat); and (228) 475-7047 for the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (advance sign-up required to reserve canoe.)

Friday, August 4

Emergency Relief/Hurricane Loss Workshop

Financial and forestry consulting help is now available for forest landowners who suffered loss during last year’s hurricane season. The USDA Farm Service Agency has expanded the traditional Conservation Reserve Program to help landowners with damaged forests caused by Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Ophelia, Rita and Wilma. This is a 3 tier program. August 25th is the LAST day to sign up for the first tier. Tier 2 and 3 will depend upon availability of funds.

To find out how to qualify, attend

The Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program
Date: Monday, August 14, 2006,
Time: 10:00 - noon
Location: County extension office*

* Be sure to contact your local MSU Extension Service to see if they are offering the program in your county. Most are, but you need to check. You can find your local MSU Extension Service contact information at You can also contact Susan Seals at MSU, 662-325-8581,

Landowners from ALL counties in Mississippi with more than 35% timber loss will qualify for private forestry consultants to help develop recovery plans and estimate losses. Qualified landowners will also receive cost share assistance and either a lump sum payment or annual rental payments.

A coalition of forestry organizations including Mississippi Forestry Association worked diligently in Washington D.C. after the hurricanes of 2005 to pass legislation for the Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program (EFCRP). Authorization for EFCRP comes from the Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006.
Steve Melton of USDA Farm Service Agency will be presenting the program. He is the head of the Forestry Department in the FSA and leads the EFCRP.
There will also be a reforestation program in Hattiesburg on August 25, 2005. Go to for detailed information.

Tuesday, August 1

Roundtable Launches Initiative

Business Roundtable has rolled out a broad-based effort to recruit and train up to 20,000 new construction workers in the Gulf Coast region by the end of 2009 and to help continue the region's recovery from last year's hurricanes.

The Gulf Coast Workforce Development Initiative is spearheaded by the Roundtable, and is working cooperatively with local businesses, construction trade groups, labor unions, community organizations, academic institutions and federal, state and local government to achieve this goal.
Roundtable companies are committing up to $5 million for early funding to coordinate the training and assist in recruiting participants. Funds from the U.S. Department of Labor's Pathways to Construction program and national emergency grants will be used to implement the training.

In August, the Initiative will launch the Gulf Rebuild: Education, Advancement and Training, or "GREAT," campaign to promote the program and recruit participants from the region to take part in the training. The GREAT campaign will start with pilot programs in Baton Rouge, La., and Jackson, and expand into other Gulf Coast communities in the future.

Participants will enroll in a four-week course that gives them entry-level skills to prepare them for jobs in the construction industry. In the future, the Initiative hopes to offer options for advanced workshops and apprenticeships for students who want to prepare further for advanced construction trades jobs.

Training will primarily be conducted by instructors certified by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), a not-for-profit organization created to develop industry-driven standardized curriculum with portable credentials to help address the skilled construction workforce shortage. New worker training is also being performed under the approved apprenticeship programs of the Building and Construction Trades.