Our Katrina experience could help Sandy storm victims - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Our Katrina experience could help Sandy storm victims

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Some coast residents with disaster expertise from past storms are trying to lend a helping hand in the Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts.

Roberta Avila heads up the STEPS Coalition in Biloxi.

"We have seven years of recovery after Katrina and we have a lot of experience, case managers and others who are particularly concerned about the most vulnerable and making sure that they recover," Avila explained. 

Just as in Katrina, she said many victims are left behind. 

"These are people who are often seen at what's called unmet needs tables after a disaster. They are people who may not have qualified for an SBA loan. They are usually the elderly and the disabled and the very poor," Avila said. 

Physically challenged people are often hardest hit.  Bobbie Singletary is with Life of Mississippi.

"After Katrina, the people with disabilities were in the shelters and they had left their equipment and their supplies that they use for every day at home, and a lot of the supplies and the medical equipment had gotten ruined by water," Singletary said.  

Members of the STEPS Coalition hope to have a report in hand by the end of next month, then take that report to New York and New Jersey to deliver it to recovery officials there. They're hoping for a very good reception simply because we offer something that very few people can. 

"Mississippi has a very bad rap in the nation in terms of being last in everything, but I think one of the things we're first in is understanding how to care for people in the aftermath of disasters," said Dr. Alice Graham, who heads up the Interfaith Disaster Task Force. "We've had way too much experience with that." 

That experience could mean the difference from a partial to total recovery in the northeast.  The STEPS Coalition is also seeking advice from anyone in the community with disaster recovery expertise.  If you can offer any input, just call (228) 435-3113.

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