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City plans to adopt new sister

Rick Couch / News Editor

After Hurricane Katrina, the city of Waveland, Miss. was almost completely destroyed. If the finances are available, the city of Demopolis could extend a helping hand to help its citizens rebuild.

The council again discussed the possibility of adopting Waveland as a sister city at their Thursday meeting. Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson said she had discussed this possibility with Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo, who was very excited about the idea.

“I had a lengthy conversation with the Mayor of Waveland and needless to say he was excited and ecstatic about our interest in adopting them as a sister city,” Williamson said.

Discussions about the sister city program began in December and, since that time, Williamson listened to ideas from her department heads.

One of their suggestions was to take a day trip and drive to Waveland so they could meet with the city’s officials and discuss ways to help.

“I thought that was a very good suggestion,” Williamson said. “That way they could talk to the department heads and see exactly what they need.”

The idea of adopting Waveland was met with enthusiasm, but Councilman Thomas Moore felt they needed to make sure everything went according to city guidelines.

“I think we should contact (city attorney Rick Manley) and the legal counsel to see what we can legally do,” Moore said. “I am totally for whatever we can do.”

Available funding, Councilman Woody Collins said, could also be an issue.

“I think it might be appropriate at this point to defer the initial request to the Finance Committee,” Collins said. “They can review our budget, review our financial situation at this time and see what we can do. I think it might be appropriate to send this to them initially and see what we are capable of doing at this time.”

The council also suggested they discuss a wish list with Waveland and explore the possibility of getting clubs and community groups to join in the effort.

Waveland has received many generous donations since the hurricane, Williamson said, but they have not always been things the city needed.

“He said people have been very generous about sending us things such as toys for the children at Christmastime,” Williamson said. “He said they have truckloads of things for the children, but after the children and parents took away everything they could take they still had mountains of things and there was no storage.”

The purpose of adopting Waveland as a sister city, Williamson said, was to make sure they were able to help.

“We don’t want to send them something, just to send them something,” Williamson said. “We want it to be very clear that we want to fill a need. We don’t want to send them what we think they need.”

The city’s needs include miles of 6-inch and 12-inch pipe and truckloads of plywood. Elderly citizens have also found it difficult to make it to doctor appointments and the pharmacy because the van that used to transport them was destroyed.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Waveland was a city of 8,000 people. Now, there are roughly 1,000. The drop in population, Williamson said, had taken its toll on their financial situation.

“The first month after the hurricane hit, their revenue was zero,” Williamson said. “The second month their revenue was $20,000 and the third month their revenue was $60,000 and I asked them what they had producing revenue. He said they have a Wal-Mart operating in a tent, they have Circle 84 lumber and they have a Sonic and that’s it.”

No groceries had lost every city vehicle and every personal vehicle. Lost all their homes and there were no buildings for storage.

Waveland had $6 million in reserves, but they are using these funds to pay city employees and keep the city running. Williamson said it was only a matter of time before these funds were depleted.