Not long after the wind subsided and cleanup began in the town of Jackson, Mississippi, approximately 150 miles inland from the Gulf, Buffalo Peak Outfitter owners Tommy Smith and Bobby McCain began thinking how they could help those who they already knew would be in desperate need.
In an email communication sent out to the reps who served their store, Smith and McCain placed a call for products.
"Thanks to many of you for calling to check on us after Hurricane Katrina. We have settled down a bit and are now brainstorming as to how we can help those who desperately need help, be they victims, rescue, law enforcement or whatever. Already some of us have volunteered in our neighborhoods, churches and local organizations and we plan to do more. Unlike most of our storms the effects of this are going to be around for a long, long time.
If you or the vendors you represent would like to help on a local level or would like to use Buffalo Peak as conduit to get items to people in the affected areas we will be glad to help. We have contacts in state government who are in a position to get donated items to the front lines.
Thanks for anything you can do,
Suggested items -- water purification, lighting, camp showers, sleeping pads, clothing, and anything else you can think of.
SNEWSÂ® talked with McCain by mobile phone on Friday, September 2, as he was working at his local church offering support to those in need.
"We have thousands of refugees in the city of Jackson. Clothing can be put on the backs of folks who have nothing. Water purification, flashlights, batteries, hydration packs are going to help out law enforcement, search and rescue groups, and more who are working to help victims, get power back on, and water plants up and running. We are trying to be a conduit for product they need," said McCain.
Both McCain and Smith count themselves as very fortunate. No staff experienced damage to their homes, and although many homes lost power McCain's power stayed on the entire time. Jackson remains under a boil water alert and gas shortages, McCain tells us are incredible.
"We are the closest big city that did not get hit. We have a lot of power crews that are staging here. Mississippi Gulf coast relief efforts are staging here in Jackson. It is other worldly right now," McCain told us.
Noting that the violence and looting talked about on TV is evidence that a disaster of this magnitude can bring out the worst in people, McCain also emphasized that it is bringing out the best in far more folks.
"Everyone is being very generous, from individuals to corporations offering what they have to give, and sometimes more," said McCain. "I am watching a trailer go by with six mattresses in it as I'm talking to you."
McCain told us, even as he volunteered his store as a staging area for more product donations to assist the efforts of a wider support effort for the region, that products keep pouring in, with donations already from Cascade Designs, Timbuk2, Wisconsin Pharmacal, Adventure 16, Outdoor Research, CamelBak and more.
SNEWSÂ® has pledged to do what it can, in addition to all the support and efforts already underway by the Outdoor Industry Association, to focus the attentions of our industry and subsequently our nation on what we can do right now to be of service locally to the thousands and thousands of displaced people who are in immediate need of clothing, shelter, sleeping bags and pads, insect repellent, sunscreen, hats, shoes, gloves, duffels, backpacks, daypacks, flashlights and headlamps, batteries, stoves, water purification and so much more. Go to www.snewsnet.com/katrina for daily updates, stories, and to find out more about support centers and staging areas for product donations.