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Mechanics get relief mission rolling again

Carbondale’s “Red Ball Express” hurricane relief mission got a little help Monday from a couple of mechanics in Kansas, according to officials associated with the town’s effort to help Pearlington, Miss.

According to Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach, the ambulance carrying medical, camping and other relief supplies to Pearlington, which Hurricane Katrina leveled in late August, ran into some mechanical problems near Colby, Kan.

Leach said the drivers pulled into the local Chrysler dealership, where mechanics diagnosed the problem as a failed alternator, replaced it with a new one, then went on to give the ambulance a tuneup and change the fluids. They then sent the mission on its way at no charge.



The ambulance was expected to reach Jackson, Miss., by Tuesday night and get to Pearlington by today. Pearlington is a small community on the state line between Mississippi and Louisiana; it was largely ignored by rescue efforts for more than a week after Katrina slammed into the nearby Gulf Coast. A Sept. 20 article on the CNN.com web site described the town as having virtually no shelter and homes knocked off their foundations, often reduced to heaps of rubble.

Leach, who was the initiator of a movement to have Carbondale “adopt” Pearlington and set up a trucking network to get supplies to the battered community, said that when the ambulance gets to Pearlington, the drivers were to turn over the supplies and the ambulance, a gift from the Carbondale Fire Department.



Basalt and Aspen, as well as Pitkin County, have kicked in some cash to help transport the relief supplies to Mississippi, according to a statement from the Carbondale fire station.

Leach said the cash is “not a huge amount” but that it “definitely is welcome” as Carbondale continues its effort to help the residents of Pearlington recover from the storm damages.

Meanwhile, Leach said, there is a growing stockpile of donated goods and supplies that is expected to leave for Pearlington early next week.

Those with goods to donate to the cause can bring them to the Red Rock Plaza on Highway 133, the former site of the Partyland store. A list of needed items is available on Carbondale’s official Web site, carbondalegov.org, by clicking on the Katrina relief button.


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