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Rotarian raising funds for Katrina victims

December 06, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

Stepping outside of his FEMA trailer was like walking into Hiroshima or Nagasaki, D.H. Short said, describing what it was like to live in hurricane-ravaged Pass Christian, Miss.

The $600,000 in the city's reserves isn't enough to cover the estimated $1.5 million cost to rebuild, Short said. Many of the people who survived Hurricane Katrina are still living in tents, and there's not much left for people to salvage, he said.

Short, president of the Pass Christian Rotary Club, described the plight of the town Tuesday during a presentation at The Herald-Mail Co. John R. Vincenti, president of the Rotary Club of State College, Pa., organized Short's visit.

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The stop was part of a national fundraising tour, said Short, who hopes to raise at least $250,000 for Rotary Charity Trust Fund. The money will help rebuild homes, reopen the flooded library and repair the city's storm-damaged sewer, Short said.

So far, his Rotary Club has raised about $20,000.

"This is our village," Short said during the presentation. "This is too important for our people. They cannot live in tents for the rest of their lives."

Just before the storm struck, Short and his wife drove to Garden Park Medical Center, where he worked as a cardiovascular physician. He said he expected to return home in a few days. He had lived through seven hurricanes and his wife had seen nine.

The couple took a few hospital uniforms and toothbrushes. They also took the 28 dogs that were living in a show kennel at their home.

At the hospital, floodwaters filled the entire first floor. Patients at the 100-bed hospital weren't in any danger because their beds were on the second and third floors, but doctors had to save the medical equipment and supplies, Short said.

The next day, Short surveyed the destruction. He observed a woman stooped on a concrete slab - all that remained of her home - counting and sorting shards of pottery and china.

Short and his wife didn't have much more than that. The couple found broken plates, pieces of silver and three bottles of wine, he said.

The local Rotary held its annual "Christmas in the Past" event this month. The group gave out donated food, clothes and toys to 300 people, Short said.

Short has visited nine Rotary Clubs in California and four in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Short said he planned to make four other stops throughout Mississippi and has stops planned in Maine and Georgia.




The Pass Christian Rotary Club is accepting monetary donations for its charity effort to rebuild Pass Christian, Miss., which was struck by Hurricane Katrina.

The club asks donors to make checks payable to the Rotary Charity Trust Fund and mail them to:

Rotary Charity Trust Fund

P.O. Box 88

Pass Christian, MS 39571

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