Chicago Group Promises Relief For Pass Christian Firefighters - - The News for South Mississippi

Chicago Group Promises Relief For Pass Christian Firefighters

Frank Slove has a better picture of what his relief group needs to do.

"What we want to do is come and help you guys rebuild your homes," he told a group of Pass Christian firefighters.

If Slove can hook up Chicago area firefighters with the Pass Christian first responders, or Illinois teachers with Mississippi teachers, he thinks the United Relief Foundation can help coast hurricane victims.

"A brother firefighter hearing about this can relate to it, not only relate to it, but he's more apt to help," Slove said.

Slove and his partner visited south Mississippi this week. They took pictures of the area, found out who needed help, and saw what kind of help they could provide.

"If this town loses its police and fire personnel, this town is extinct," the foundation's executive director said. "You're not going to bring in new fire and police personnel into a city that's entirely devastated."

One of the Pass Christian firemen chosen to get assistance was Perry Jenkins.

"The volunteers that have come down here, the firemen have come down to help us, it's really outstanding," he said.

Jenkins' family runs a Pass Christian printing shop. A year ago, the Davis Avenue building had 14 feet of water in it. But the family was determined to save it. In February, Jenkins was printing T-shirts again. He called his business "very fortunate, because without the family, we couldn't do this by ourselves. There's no way."

On weekdays, the family is at the printing shop. At night and on weekends, six Jenkins' brothers could be fighting fires. They're all members of the Pass Christian Volunteer Fire Department. That's why Perry Jenkins got contacted by the United Relief group. The volunteer firefighter owns one of the 10 family homes that couldn't stand up to Katrina.

The men with the United Relief Foundation don't think first responders should have to rebuild hurricane damaged homes by themselves. They say there are plenty of people back in Illinois who want to help this community. The trip to the Pass gave the foundation organizers a better idea where that help should be sent.

The United Relief Foundation is assisting Pass Christian because according to the non-profit group's web site, there's dwindling outside aid in that area, and it's hindering recovery efforts.

The United Relief Foundation representatives also met with Hancock County leaders this week. They wanted to see what sort of assistance may be needed in Bay St. Louis and Waveland. Their first relief teams could be sent to the coast in about a month.

by Brad Kessie

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