Pass combines Memorial, recovery -- 2006
PASS CHRISTIAN - Speeches, fried catfish, presentation of military colors and rousing patriotic songs could not top the overwhelming feeling of unity Monday as townsfolk mingled with the agencies, contractors and volunteers who help the city dig out from Hurricane Katrina.
The Monday gathering was dubbed Memorial Day Dedication and Spirit of Partnership Ceremony,\ a long title organizers believed necessary for the double-pronged event. It was held at the rebuilt War Memorial Park pavilion under the shade of oaks that survived.
"We felt it important to symbolize our mission here as we're coming to a close on our mission of debris removal and passing on the rebuilding and rejuvenation efforts to the city," said Dee Flower, an Army Corps of Engineers community relations specialist from Indiana. "It will be our ending and their new beginning."
The agencies will not leave until FEMA declares the mission complete, Flower said. The date is yet unknown but the 100 percent FEMA coverage of debris removal expires, unless changed, June 30.
"We'd scheduled a farewell program for today and the city and Chamber of Commerce wanted to start an annual Memorial Day event. Combining the two is perfect," Flower said.
" I can't speak for other Coast cities, but for us, Pass Christian has been a true partnership. We knew this was about the people wanting to come home and rebuild the city."
Another corps worker, Denise Cuevas, helped Flower organize the program that had representatives of the corps, FEMA, MEMA and other major public and private groups.
"Without everyone working together as a team, this wouldn't have been accomplished," said Cuevas, an Ocean Springs businesswoman before working with the corps.
"These people are emotionally involved with us and perhaps that is the difference," said Kathie Short, secretary of Pass Christian Art Association.
Pass artist Janie Koch created an event logo that appeared on fast-selling T-shirts at the association's booth.
The design features a sand castle (the corps' symbol has a castle), an American flag, a shovel and bucket.
"The shovel is for the rebuilding," said Koch.