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.

Monday, December 11

No Matter what They Cost, Some Things are Just Worth Doing

By Kate Magandy
The Sun Herald

Andi Rushton could not believe no one was going to help Bayou View restore its park after Hurricane Katrina. The longtime resident of that area of Gulfport wanted to see it used again as it once had been, so she contacted some organizations who were rebuilding parks after Katrina. But she was told the Bayou View park didn't qualify for a makeover.

So Rushton organized residents and they got to work themselves. Tuesday, the Junior Auxiliary will present the city of Gulfport with a check for $20,000 to rebuild and redesign the children's playground at the park. The money, pledged by JA, will be matched with city and FEMA funds to buy the equipment.

Courtney Smith, the JA liaison, said $15,000 came from a donation by Coca-Cola after the organization's charity ball, its annual fundraiser, was canceled because of Katrina. Junior Auxiliary wanted the money to be geared toward children and teamed up with the residents of Bayou View to help make the park project happen.

But that's not all. Rushton got a donation of 2,000 trees from Fred Richardson in Virginia. About 400 were planted in the park; 200 more were donated to Bayou Vista golf course and another 300 were donated to the city for landscaping. More than 1,000 were given away to Gulfport residents during the Miracle in the Park day last month.

Rushton and other committee chairs such as Courtney Smith, Kathy Smith and Linda Ishee have organized volunteers, workers to bring food for volunteer workers, fundraising and the Junior Auxiliary.

Plans call for a walking track complete with handrails for seniors, stretch and rest areas, sidewalks and a wildlife area, and for refurbishing of the tennis courts. Rushton said in addition to asking for donations from present and former Bayou View residents, the groups are selling T-shirts for $10, yard signs for $15 and park benches for $600.
Roy Anderson Jr. and his wife, Weezie, are donating a sculpture; Allen Beverages is donating the materials for sidewalks; Roy Anderson III is donating funds to restore Minnow Creek and add some bridges.

The work on the park is donated, too. Rushton said Seabees from NMCB 133 are donating their time to help build the sidewalks, bridges and playground. The NCOs at Keesler Air Force Base, Flight Training 336 and Air Guard CRTC also are donating their time and talents.
Mississippi Power and the Gulfport High Beta Club have pledged help.

The point in all this is South Mississippi will do for itself what others don't deem doable. Rushton and others like her in Bayou View wouldn't take no for an answer. They got involved in their community, convinced others to do likewise and organized their efforts to make it all happen.

If all goes as planned, there will be a final-touches day March 10 and, in the spirit of "Extreme Makeover" a reveal March 24. Never let it be said one person can't make a difference. Rushton's enthusiasm for the project is contagious. She and others like her will ensure Bayou View's park will be ready for the neighborhood use again come March.

If you want to help, you can contact Andi Rushton at 234-4950.


Blogger cehwiedel said...

This post will be included in today's edition of the Carnival of Hurricane Relief. See:

If you have recent photographs that you would be willing to allow CoHR to use as banner illustrations for the homepage, please let me know.

11:53 AM  

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