For Moore Community House in Biloxi, 2006 was a year of brief activity and long waits, fitful starts and interminable delays, and finally, a few small steps toward recovery.
“It has been quite a year,” says the Rev. Carol Burnett, director of Moore Community House, a UMC mission agency that provides child care and other services to low income families in East Biloxi. “We’re finally making a little bit of progress and I’m feeling encouraged. It’s beginning to feel like the end of the first phase is in sight.”
Though Katrina left the program’s eight buildings standing—mostly small frame houses used for classrooms— all were flooded to the rooftops. Of those, seven were damaged beyond repair and were demolished last spring. The eighth, a former church building converted for classroom use, was gutted and has been awaiting reconstruction, pending approval of various plans and permits, with construction expected to begin late last year, says Burnett.
Plans are also underway to build an entirely new early childhood facility, fully equipped playground and new office space. But here too, the planning and approval process, cumbersome under the best circumstances, is further slowed by conditions throughout the Gulf region.
“Every time you have to get something done, whether it’s hiring an architect or a contractor and getting a building permit, everybody on the coast needs the same thing,” says Burnett. “So you take a number and stand in line.” Burnett was hoping to get final approval from the city council for the new building in December, and if so, construction will begin early this year with completion at the earliest in October.
Meanwhile, no child care has been available at Moore Community House or anywhere else in East Biloxi, and families have been making do the best they can. “We’ve always been in a position to respond before, so this has been very frustrating,” says Burnett. In January, that situation was expected to ease somewhat when Moore Community House was to begin operating an early Head Start program in leased classroom space in a recently reopened elementary school.
The entire reconstruction effort for Moore Community House is expected to cost about $1.8 million, with $1.4 raised to date.
Send contributions to Moore Community House, P.O. Box 204, Biloxi, MS 39533-0204. For more information about helping, call Burnett at (228)669-4827 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.