From an executive in the Alabama Association of Realtors –
Our peers and friends and fellow citizens in Mississippi and Louisiana are suffering under unprecedented conditions of human misery and suffering. Thank you and your members for opening your hearts and pocketbooks to help. Had Katrina only struck Mississippi as it did, and not leveled or flooded one building or home, in any of Louisiana, it would still be the worst natural disaster in US history.
We all appreciate your help and willingness to do more. The magnitude of a 300 mile long path of total destruction causes it to be difficult if not impossible to adequately respond quickly enough. The state associations of Louisiana, Mississippi, their officers and members, are facing circumstances unparalleled for Realtors anywhere and clearly, we all know that beyond Realtors, it’s all the citizens who have been left with nothing. Continue to pray in your own way and your own words, that all those immediately involved can be sustained with energy, clarity of thought and love.
In our area, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Northern Mississippi and northwest Louisiana, we are working every minute of every day to identify inventories of houses, apartments, single and multi-family housing units, mobile home parks with vacant slabs, vacant hotels, closed military base barracks, hospitals, etc., that can be immediately made available for what may grow to be 600-800,000 people who cannot go home.
I am confident that you will be called on as well to begin determining inventory such as these if you have not already started doing so. In addition to existing housing units, we have been asked to identify commercial buildings that are vacant–i.e., Wal Mart, strip malls, other huge buildings–that can be converted into housing units inside and the parking lots used for mobile homes, motor homes for temporary shelters.
Join us in thinking “outside the box” for any and all options where massive numbers of people can be relocated. We also have been asked by FEMA to identify parcels of land adjacent to water/sewage connections if possible (but not even required), where 200-400 mobile home slabs could be placed and housing made available quickly. Do not limit how you allow your ideas to develop, for if we do, we will not have enough places people can call home.
In our three states, I believe it is safe to say we do not see these days as challenges, but we see them as once in a lifetime opportunities. We will succeed, and we will do so as quickly as possible. For it could have been each of us and our families.
I hope you will not be negatively influenced by the electronic media coverage of our disaster areas. The human condition of hundreds of thousands is indeed terrible. It is a very small percentage of people who are currently receiving almost all the media coverage.
Please consider having access to your email over the labor day weekend. I think we will need to ask you to locate the same inventories we are asked to locate. I know some of you are already doing this. For the most part, we are all relying on cell phones, and with the traffic, the circuits are overloaded.