[Hpn] Small town is still home to homeless

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Tue, 29 Aug 2006 12:54:10 -0400


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Small town is still home to homeless
By LEONARD PITTS JR.
lpitts@MiamiHerald.com
WAVELAND, Miss. -- Hurricane Katrina was a different storm in different =
places. In Franklinton and Bogalusa, La., it was a freight train wind =
that toppled trees and peeled away roofs. In New Orleans, it was water =
drowning neighborhoods, old people trapped in attics and communities =
accessible only by boat.

Here, it was a watery fist that rose from the ocean 30 feet high and =
smashed down on this part of the Gulf, rending, bending and upending =
with disdainful ease.

A year ago, when I toured this neighborhood near the Gulf of Mexico, =
there were no homes left. Only debris fields littering concrete slabs.

A year later, the debris fields are mostly gone. Here and there, one =
even hears hammers knocking against wood, sees wooden skeletons taking =
shape. But mostly, one sees dead and broken trees, vacant lots being =
reclaimed by nature, white FEMA trailers filled with people waiting and =
hoping to get their lives back.

I meet Gene Duinchard, 78, standing out in front of his trailer. He is =
sanguine about the loss of his home of 33 years. The day he came back, =
he says, ``there was nothing to see. But I knew that. I mean, you have a =
house on the beach, you have a hurricane, you know that one of these =
days you might drive up and there'll be nothing there.''

I ask him a few questions about the future of the neighborhood and his =
answers are similarly stoic. Then, without warning, he snaps to =
attention. ``Quote me on this: FEMA. This is pathetic with FEMA. The red =
tape that I have to go through, they ought to be paying me to come back =
here . . . . Everything is an obstacle to stop me from building.''

He wants the house he had. FEMA, he says, wants him to build something =
stronger, higher, hurricane-proof. He scoffs at that. Nothing made of =
wood by human hands, he says, could withstand the monster that was =
Katrina.

A few minutes later and down the beach a ways, Vicki Sherrouse and her =
mother, Mimi, show me a section of the local newspaper that is, they =
say, thicker than the paper ordinarily is as a whole. It is a listing of =
homes that are being auctioned because property taxes haven't been paid. =
Columns of names. People, Vicki says, who aren't here to even know their =
property is about to be seized.

''What we're finding, too,'' Mimi says, is ``people buying up land for =
condos and casinos. This has been a completely residential city, totally =
residential along the beach. But the people aren't back to keep that =
ordinance up.''

Her neighbor's house is about to be auctioned. ``They knew nothing about =
it.''

''Some people are very focused,'' Vicki says. ``The ones who are focused =
are the ones who want to move in and take over. And they have the =
wherewithal to do it. They have the money, they have the mental =
togetherness.''

''They're not the homeless ones,'' Mimi says.

According to her daughter, Mimi shouldn't even be here. Her lungs are =
bad. She has to leave the area whenever the wind kicks up the dust and =
debris. Her doctor doesn't want her here at all.

But here she is. Here Gene Duinchard is. I ask if he has ever thought =
about packing it in. ''I'm fourth generation,'' he said.

Leaving the area, I pass an overgrown lot, upon which rests the =
flattened carcass of a black car. Nearby, is a sign:

Jeanne Kilpatrick: For All Your Real Estate Needs. Specializing in =
waterfront properties.

 =20
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=20
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    =20
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William Charles Tinker=20
=20
New Hampshire Homeless / Founded 11-28-99=20
25 Granite Street=20
Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640 USA=20
Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human rights.=20
1-603-286-2492=20
http://www.missingkids.com=20
http://www.nationalhomeless.org=20
http://www.newhampshirehomeless.org=20
newhampshirehomeless-subscribe@topica.com=20


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<DIV>
<H1>Small town is still home to homeless</H1>
<H5>By LEONARD PITTS JR.</H5>
<H6><A =
href=3D"mailto:lpitts@MiamiHerald.com">lpitts@MiamiHerald.com</A></H6><!-=
- begin body-content -->
<P><B><SPAN class=3Ddropcap-large>W</SPAN></B>AVELAND, Miss. -- =
Hurricane Katrina=20
was a different storm in different places. In Franklinton and Bogalusa, =
La., it=20
was a freight train wind that toppled trees and peeled away roofs. In =
New=20
Orleans, it was water drowning neighborhoods, old people trapped in =
attics and=20
communities accessible only by boat.</P>
<P>Here, it was a watery fist that rose from the ocean 30 feet high and =
smashed=20
down on this part of the Gulf, rending, bending and upending with =
disdainful=20
ease.</P>
<P>A year ago, when I toured this neighborhood near the Gulf of Mexico, =
there=20
were no homes left. Only debris fields littering concrete slabs.</P>
<P>A year later, the debris fields are mostly gone. Here and there, one =
even=20
hears hammers knocking against wood, sees wooden skeletons taking shape. =
But=20
mostly, one sees dead and broken trees, vacant lots being reclaimed by =
nature,=20
white FEMA trailers filled with people waiting and hoping to get their =
lives=20
back.</P>
<P>I meet Gene Duinchard, 78, standing out in front of his trailer. He =
is=20
sanguine about the loss of his home of 33 years. The day he came back, =
he says,=20
``there was nothing to see. But I knew that. I mean, you have a house on =
the=20
beach, you have a hurricane, you know that one of these days you might =
drive up=20
and there'll be nothing there.''</P>
<P>I ask him a few questions about the future of the neighborhood and =
his=20
answers are similarly stoic. Then, without warning, he snaps to =
attention.=20
``Quote me on this: FEMA. This is pathetic with FEMA. The red tape that =
I have=20
to go through, they ought to be paying <I>me</I> to come back here . . . =
.=20
Everything is an obstacle to stop me from building.''</P>
<P>He wants the house he had. FEMA, he says, wants him to build =
something=20
stronger, higher, hurricane-proof. He scoffs at that. Nothing made of =
wood by=20
human hands, he says, could withstand the monster that was Katrina.</P>
<P>A few minutes later and down the beach a ways, Vicki Sherrouse and =
her=20
mother, Mimi, show me a section of the local newspaper that is, they =
say,=20
thicker than the paper ordinarily is as a whole. It is a listing of =
homes that=20
are being auctioned because property taxes haven't been paid. Columns of =
names.=20
People, Vicki says, who aren't here to even know their property is about =
to be=20
seized.</P>
<P>''What we're finding, too,'' Mimi says, is ``people buying up land =
for condos=20
and casinos. This has been a completely residential city, totally =
residential=20
along the beach. But the people aren't back to keep that ordinance =
up.''</P>
<P>Her neighbor's house is about to be auctioned. ``They knew nothing =
about=20
it.''</P>
<P>''Some people are very focused,'' Vicki says. ``The ones who are =
focused are=20
the ones who want to move in and take over. And they have the =
wherewithal to do=20
it. They have the money, they have the mental togetherness.''</P>
<P>''They're not the homeless ones,'' Mimi says.</P>
<P>According to her daughter, Mimi shouldn't even be here. Her lungs are =
bad.=20
She has to leave the area whenever the wind kicks up the dust and =
debris. Her=20
doctor doesn't want her here at all.</P>
<P>But here she is. Here Gene Duinchard is. I ask if he has ever thought =
about=20
packing it in. ''I'm fourth generation,'' he said.</P>
<P>Leaving the area, I pass an overgrown lot, upon which rests the =
flattened=20
carcass of a black car. Nearby, is a sign:</P>
<P>Jeanne Kilpatrick: For All Your Real Estate Needs. Specializing in =
waterfront=20
properties.</P><!-- end body-content -->
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DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>William Charles Tinker =
<BR>&nbsp;<BR>New Hampshire=20
Homeless / Founded 11-28-99 <BR>25 Granite Street <BR>Northfield,N.H. =
03276-1640=20
USA <BR>Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human rights.=20
<BR>1-603-286-2492 <BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.missingkids.com">http://www.missingkids.com</A> =
<BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.nationalhomeless.org">http://www.nationalhomeless.org<=
/A>=20
<BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.newhampshirehomeless.org">http://www.newhampshirehomel=
ess.org</A>=20
<BR><A=20
href=3D"mailto:newhampshirehomeless-subscribe@topica.com">newhampshirehom=
eless-subscribe@topica.com</A>=20
</FONT></DIV>
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