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Can-Do - Project Pearlington

Project Pearlington, MS.: The town of Pearlington Mississippi still sits 3 years after
Hurricane Katrina with little to no assistance.

Video Log 1: Assessment Video Log 2: Action Taken


April 25th, 2009: CAN-DO returns to Pearlington, MS to assess progress

CAN-DO returned to Pearlington, MS last week to assess home construction efforts currently underway. CAN-DO has committed to finishing 12 homes with the funding and support of Oprah's Angel Network.


Herb Ritchie and Larry Randall of the Pearlington Recovery Center, aided CAN-DO in their assessment and development of finish-phase construction. CAN-DO expects to to have the houses completed and all 12 families into their new homes by June 30th 2009.


CAN-DO will be back in Pearlington within the next month to track the progress and document the finished homes. Thank you to Oprah's Angel Network, the Pearlington Recovery Center and all the volunteers that are helping us get families out of their MEMA trailers and into their new homes.




January 2009

In Pearlington Mississippi, many of the hurricane Katrina survivors are  living in temporary housing as they rebuild their homes. Federal and State programs, designed to assist residents as they rebuild, are getting ready to close as their project deadlines come to an end. Many residents are at wits end as they try establish a way of attaining their goal of permanent housing for them and their families.  Many houses are sitting half finished because of the lack of funds and resources.
Thanks to an anonymous donor, CAN-DO is now providing assistance to residents in their rebuilding process, by providing the materials needed to complete the house and using the volunteer manpower to install purchased materials.  CAN-DO is taking residents out of temporary housing situations and putting them into permanent homes that the resident can call their own. Our goals are to put as many Katrina victims into a permanent living situation in the most dignified way possible.

We are in the rebuilding stages of our first six homes and we will keep you updated on the progress.

Pearlington, MS is the third oldest settlement in the United States.  In 2000,  Pearlington had a population of 1684, with  648 households and 460 families. With an average income of $14k per year, the 2000 census identified 17.5% of the population as living below the national poverty line. The average home was appraised at $60k and the average property tax was $369 per year.  With no industry in Pearlington, the majority of residents commuted to to surrounding towns and cities for employment.

Today, after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, and its devastating economic impact, the population of Pearlington is estimated at just 1000 people, or approximately 400 families. Of these families, about 150 have the financial means to rebuild/repair their homes and are in safe, sanitary and permanent home. The other 250 families, remain without resources to rebuild.

Skill list for finishing these houses:
Plumber- capable person experienced in rough plumbing (ie installing water and septic lines) finish plumbing, (installing sinks, tubs/showers, toilets and water heater)
Electrician- capable person experienced with rough in wiring and installing switches, outlets and experienced in wiring in electrical panels
Finish carpenter- experienced in installing laminate flooring,linoleum tiles, hanging doors, installing cabinetry and .trimming out houses.
Helpers- capable of acting as cut person Must be proficient with skill saw/ tape measure/ chop saw. People who are able to follow directions.
Crew leaders- able to coordinate house projects so that work force is busy and houses are being finished correctly (ie floors, cabinets, doors finish trim are completed in order.

*The most we need per house is, 6- 8 people. If you would like to volunteer please contact CAN-DO or Pearlington Recovery Center 228-533-0101 to confirm reservations. (lodging/meals provided)


Because Pearlington is a small community of nearly 35%  elderly and disabled, it is not  considered "financially viable". For this reason, Pearlington has been left out of the financial "loop" for aid designated for Katrina survivors.  Two years later,  federal money and personal donations that poured in from around the world have yet to reach their intended recipients. Funds have been directed to investment-opportune developments, or tied up in the "red tape".  As a result, in Pearlington, only 40 homes have been rebuilt or repaired.
For residents that have repaired their homes, the re-infestation of mold is once again a problem. Mold re-mediation (gutting & spraying) was done with little or no guidance. Once the interior walls were closed back in (sheet-rocked), mold spores repopulated in the environment that makes this favorable (moist area with little to no sunlight). The only logical way to treat this new outbreak is to strip the interior of the house and spray all the wood with a Benz type paint that will deplete mold of the oxygen that it needs to survive. For  residents whom paid for this work to be done, they have no recourse. Precious dollars spent, residents have no other option than to remain in the infected houses, inevitably resulting in respiratory and other other illnesses.

The majority of homes that are being built for the target community (elderly,disabled and single parent families) are grossly under funded.  Using the minimal amount of aid available (Salvation Army $10k in materials, UMCOR $1200 and Katrina Aid Today(KAT) $1100) houses are now sitting in various stages of completion. There are an estimated 30-50 houses in some phase of construction and another 100-150 planned homes yet to receive funding.  The majority of the incomplete homes are missing various parts; Heating/AC, and/or kitchen cabinets, countertops, toilets, tubs/showers and other necessities.

* During construction, residents who are working to rebuild are forced to stay in their 12x10 trailer. The government's solution for the clog in state funding is to offer these trailers to the resident as their new permanent dwelling. ( LINK-Subject: FEMA Unit Purchase Info ) Most are incurring large electric bills; $300 per month is not uncommon. With high electric and gas bills caused by the  poor insulation, few residents can build the capital needed to start or finish their home.
  *On August 29th, 2005, the receding flood waters of Katrina revealed a devastated Pearlington. Where once stood a Boys and Girls Club, a youth sports program, and a facility for dramatic arts, there was only the sodden ground. Pearlington's leaders of tomorrow without guidance, and community support. With no creative outlet, they are hanging out in the streets, idle as they cope with their broken community. Youth crimes have increased drastically since the storm. Crime is at an all time high, and the dropout rate also. Drug use, vandalism, petty theft, and trespassing are now an everyday occurrence. There has not been any initiative to address these "problems" . The youth of Pearlington need our help now.

CAN-DO, would like to fill in the gaps for both materials and labor in order to finish the existing houses, raising funds for new construction, and aid in the development of ongoing community services.  (see below)

Our program includes the following projected phases to result in fully sustainable, locally-run programs to address the most vital long-term needs of the community:

These single family (1,2 or 3 bedroom) homes can be built for $25,000-28,000. Constructed "green", the homes are constructed generating minimal waste and  can be added onto in the future.

A diversification of our energy supplies is a necessity and it is time to look forward and develop a power infrastructure that includes renewable energy both for short term emergency responses and for the longer term power needs of its citizens.  Pearlington, Mississippi(Handcock County) is the ideal community to incorporate solar energy into homes. The size of the community and lack of outside forces(industry) makes a great candidate for solar power in residential homes.  Our plan will reduce the energy demand, resulting in lower energy bills for those that will be moving back into their homes and a realistic means to pay for insurance.  CAN-DO is currently in the process of a proposal(Project Green) that we will be submitting to congress this month.  

Any company,  organization or person(s) whom wish to to help with this project( PROJECT GREEN ) PLEASE contact or call 646 228 7049.

Friend of CAN-DO, Larry Randall president of a local program, The Boys and Girls Center, dedicated to the young people who have remained in Pearlington.  Pearlington Impact is positive place for youths to congregate, and provide a creative outlet as an alternative to being cooped up in a FEMA trailer. We would like to help him and his community continue these services;  
Contact : Larry Randall 228-342-4245, president of the Pearlington Impact, a non profit designed for the Boys and Girls Center.


Evacuation Plan: Cities have an obligation to protect their citizens and are in the best position to plan for emergencies.  The tragic error in this approach is that it is far more expensive to respond after the fact than to plan how best to mitigate and strive for a continuity of services before the act. What is not being done is planning and development of infrastructure to make our cities more resilient to threats.  After two years no evacuation plan has been put put in motion anywhere in the gulf.   Our goal is simple; we would like to buy a bus, park it at PRC and have it on the ready for future disaster. Disabled and elderly will have a means of transportation and will be safely evacuated out of harms way.
Refrigeration Truck: During the aftermath of a large storm,  frozen food being delivered to PODs(Points Of Distribution) rapidly melted and spoiled. With no refrigeration trucks, there was no way of transporting frozen goods or ice to remote areas ( i.e. Venice, Port Sulfur and Buras).  A refrigeration truck (or fleet of trucks), would allows us to provide meals (other than military issue MRE's) to remote communities.  Allowing communities to prepare food and dine together boosts moral, and gives a sense of normalcy to communities under duress.
Distribution truck: Large enough to carry up to 10 pallets(22') of supplies but small enough to get around the debris piles.  After Hurricane Katrina, it was nearly impossible to get supplies out to the harder  hit areas because there were no trucks available.
Truss Tent: Designed in conformance with the International Building Code and holds up against 90 mph winds. This is vital to the community revitalization center, gives medics an area to work, gov't agencies a base to assess the community and shelter to store materials from the elements.


Besides the financial shortfall, Pearlington is in desperate need of experienced volunteers. Plumbers and electricians have been in short supply. Also, CAN-DO is reaching out to the firefighter community.  CAN-DO has often looked to the brotherhood of firefighters across the US and Canada, with terrific results.  There are several camps set up as resource centers for the community to access. The camps are designed to house 100's of volunteers. Check the website for more information.  

With money and resources in short supply we need help to execute this plan.  We are calling on any organization, group or individual to please help us make this a reality.  This plan is being set up so any one person(s) or organization may adopt a home, project or family... We also feel it is important to state that this is not a competition. Our  goal is to build a network of people and organizations to help us complete this project.  Our intent is to work together and pool our resources and get this done now rather than waiting on the government and the NOG's, enough is enough!


Foundation package-  $3300
Framing, sheeting and roofing, exterior doors and windows-$9800
Mechanicals- a/c-heat, plumbing and electrical $9000
Sheet-rock, flooring, interior doors and paint $6000
Total per home $28,100 
(Add on the Salvation Army grant $10k, per house, CAN-DO bottom line is $18.100.)

Budget and proposal will be available June 5th   , 2007

Contact - Larry Randall 228-342-4245.

Refurbished Luxury Bus = $25,000- 35,000/EA
Refrigeration Truck- $5,000-10,000.
Distribution Truck- used $5,000
Clear Span Hercules Truss Arch Building 55'W x 70-(100)'L = $20,209.00/EA

Keeping with the CAN-DO philosophy, we will document the rebuilding process from start to finish. Always accountable, we not only aim to show our loyal donors, and the general public where every CAN-DO dollar, euro or pound is spent but prove that realistic and worthwhile projects can be done effectively with real results in a reasonable time frame by side stepping the "red tape" and bureaucracy. is A certified 501(c)(3)non-profit organization. and the associated logo and all associated marks are the trademarks of
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