Pearlington Community Fears Losing Relief Center

Josephine Acker is signing up for a water pump for her three-day old FEMA trailer.

"My house had 7 to 8 feet of water I think the guy said, and everything in it is ruined. There's mold," Josephine Acker said.

Acker and hundreds of people in Pearlington turn to the relief center at Charles Murphy Elementary for all their necessities, from washing their clothes to picking up groceries.

"This is very important to me and everybody in Pearlington. People have a place to come get food, clothing, and the medical center over there," said Acker.

Paula Buhr has been in charge of the operation since mid-September.

"There's still people with no trailer, and there's people that don't have anything to put in the trailers," said Paula Buhr.

But the days may be numbered for the large relief operation. Buhr says Hancock County School Superintendent David Kopf told her she has until Thursday to move all the volunteers, supplies and donations off the school property.

"He said that the people are pulling out and they don't want the liability of the volunteers here on the school property," said Buhr.

Buhr says three months after Katrina, the need in Pearlington is just too great to send the volunteers away.

"So it happened in August. We're supposed to wipe our noses, suck it up, and be OK in this short period of time? That's not OK," said Buhr.

Buhr says she's asking for churches and people in the community to give the volunteers another place to set up. In the meantime, she's hoping leaders in the school district will change their minds.

"We're supposed to fold up and tell these kids with no place to have Santa Claus, with no place to eat, no place for anything, because somebody doesn't want to accept liability on a school that has the whole community's needs in it? So HO, HO, HO. Where's the grinch?" Buhr asked sarcastically.

Superintendent David Kopf told WLOX News the district plans to bulldoze three buildings on the property, because they flooded and are not structurally sound.

"I told Paula Buhr that since the demolition will occur in the near future, for safety reasons, they eventually will have to move, but I did not give them a deadline," Kopf said.

He added that the district did not authorize anyone to be on the property in the first place. The topic is expected to come up during a school board meeting Thursday night.