Lynne Cunningham
Provides a view from the community.

Hope in our town

Amid the travail and tragedy in our community we have found one eternal truth we might have been prone to overlook or underrate. The bond of love, respect, and brotherhood inherent in us and around us quickly rebounds and we pull together. The ones who lost are now made recipients of food, clothing, shelter, compassion, and most importantly hope; where it had all waned now being regenerated in the surge of help and rescue. The only gift which can’t be replaced is the most precious and most glaringly left unfilled because it is irreplaceable.
Wednesday after the storm I drove to Jackson for a doctor’s appointment and unexpectedly came upon damage on 25 near Four Corners and Highway 19. Traveling north there was more damage evident on the east side with trees snapped 5’ or 6’ from the ground and young trees bent way over, tops nearly touching the ground. On the way back traveling north, the wide path of the tornado was plain as day stretching out east where several acres were dotted with forklifts, trucks, workers, and damaged buildings all jumbled up together. A house or shed is still standing damaged in the midst of all the commotion. One tree near the highway sported a metal flag of corrugated tin or metal, one end twisted around the thin trunk as if someone had nailed it up to make it stay. The Kosciusko-Philadelphia sign, Highway 19 Exit was standing straight but its west edge had been bent back inward as if you turned the edge of a page in a book to mark your place. Other communities are trying to put back together the pieces which can be put back. Tupelo, Pearl, Louisville, and outlying areas are struggling. So many agencies and organizations have come to the rescue, a portable hospital from North Carolina, FEMA, MEMA, Red Cross and others. The Louisville Coliseum has been designated as one of the headquarters for out-of-town agencies. The big tent with NRG Emergency written on it houses several organizations sending representatives to aid and support the community. NRG owns a power plant in French Camp and are providing the tent and charging stations for cell phones and other electrical gadgets as well as 40 people to help with relief efforts. Our neighbor Tim Sims is an employee of NRG and his wife Pat has been serving yeoman’s duty helping with donations of clothes and food stored and displayed inside the Coliseum. She took charge of organizing men’s clothes and even set up a corner of one table to display Mother’s Days cards and little presents such as hankerchiefs and jewelry, all donated. I met The Rev. Sandra Price at the NRG tent. She is the designated representative of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in Miss. The Presbyterian Church U.S.A provides and maintains a Presbyterian Mission Agency which ministers to people in disaster situations worldwide. She asked me to stress the spirit of collaboration at this center under this tent provided by NRG. Also present and helping are specialists from the Knights of Columbus. (Gary Gist first gave the number to call for help in debris cleanup 513-580-8722). Miss. Baptist Association, National Baptists, P.C.A. Presbyterian Mission North America, Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Samaritan Purse, and Ms. Voluntary Organization Active in Disasters. All of these folks together can offer their help in any coordinated way thanks to locking hands and planning efforts together.
The Louisville High School class of 1954 put out the clarion call for a reunion before the storm and many answered it. About 35 or 40 gathered to enjoy the reconnection and recollection of their hi-school dazes. The Valedictorian and Salutatorian were both there, Martha Kirkpatrick Dubard and Gayle Metts Pearson. Anne Adelle McKay Edwards and her husband Dr. Berlyn Edwards came from Ocean Springs. Berlyn came back after the storm with a trailer full of tools to aid in cleaning up storm debris. He has weathered the storm of hurricanes on the coast. Barbara McMillin Webb traveled home to Louisville from Hazelhurst and was glad to be back in Winston County for a spell. She grew up on Albert McMillin Rd. Others from near and far were Ann Carter Sterling, Dale Wright Green, Mike Ellis, Bobby Yarbrough, Ann and Gerald McGee, Ann Chamblee, Shelia and Bobby Fleming, Linda and Keith Hudson, Patty and James Jones, and Junie Livingston Fuller. She said the group tried to think of and declare “what wasn’t even invented when we graduated (cellphones, microwave ovens, fast cars, fast food, Facebook, smartphones, MapQuest, and Zip-Lock bags).” The consensus was “Everything,” we can’t seem to live without now. Remember Write-Right ruled notebook paper? Now cursive writing is being abolished for writing and teaching in schools. Did you write your term papers in cursive or type them?
The annual Kids and Kats Fishing Rodeo took place on Saturday morning after the storm at the lake at Legion State Park. The number of participants was down from last year but it seemed to be a happy relief to enjoy the favorable weather after so much weather turmoil. Rodeos are held and promoted all over the state by the Mississippi Fisheries Wildlife and Parks Commission and this one is supported and encouraged by the Friends of the Legion State Park of Louisville. President Frances Ball filled in to sing the National Anthem for the opening ceremonies. Tracy McCully was unable to do the singing due to storm damage to her property. Masters of Ceremony Senator Giles Ward and Speedy Calvert both had to bow to deal with storm damage. Rev. Flake gave the invocation and after the prayer about 50 young hopeful fishermen and women struck out to cast their lines in the waters. Armed with poles and tackle, corks and string lines plus bait boxes the die cast. Pretty soon those cats started biting and squeals of delight arose as some of the first catches were brought in to shore. Those whiskered fish strung up and put back in the water for keeping until the next prize was caught. Evidently the 300 or so catfish released in the lake got pretty hungry for 2 days not being fed before the rodeo took place. Hot dogs and fixings were served to the crowd cooked up by chef Mike Skipper and also assistant. A great time was had by all.