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Democracy Now! Engineer Mike DiFilippo Lends A Hand in Alabama and Mississippi

StorySeptember 09, 2005
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Democracy Now! engineer Mike DiFilippo has been voluneentering with re-building efforts in Alabama and Mississippi. He joins us on the phone from Wiggins, Mississippi. [includes rush transcript]

  • Mike DiFilippo, Democracy Now! chief Engineer.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Democracy Now! engineer, Mike DiFilippo has been volunteering with rebuilding efforts in Alabama and Mississippi. He joins us on the phone from Wiggins, Mississippi.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us, Flip. Mike DiFilippo joining us, along with Jeremy Scahill. Hi, Flip.

MIKE DiFILIPPO: How are you are doing, Amy?

AMY GOODMAN: Hi. Can you talk about, as we listen to Jeremy describing his experience as he’s in the area, what you have been doing there, and what you have seen? You are not far from Biloxi — is that right? — and were recently there.

MIKE DiFILIPPO: Well, I was definitely recently in Biloxi. We then went down Route 10 over to Gulfport, and now we have actually — now we’re actually about 35 or so miles north of Gulfport in a little town called Wiggins, Mississippi, doing some help here, and everyone I have talked to, everyone I have spoken to, people outside the Trent Lott Middle School, which is just down Pascagoula, actually, all the way out, everyone I have spoken to has been really disappointed and has said, you know, that FEMA’s response has been dismal. That comparison that some of the media has made of the idea of Terri Schiavo and people coming — Congress coming into session late at night just to vote on Terri Schiavo and then everybody just like sitting back and not really showing the same — at least even the similar kind of concern for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. That really rings home with a lot of people, and everybody is really angry and really disgusted with some of the lack of consideration for their situation.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And in terms of the relief efforts at this point and the attempts of people to begin the rebuilding process, in towns that you have been at, what’s it been like?

MIKE DiFILIPPO: Well, definitely when you head out by — closer to the shore of Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Pass Christian, Long Beach, all of those areas, and when you get within 15-20 miles from the shore, most of the area you will see has been completely devastated. There’s just roofs in parts of Biloxi that don’t even have a foundation they belong to anymore. The actual house below that roof is nowhere to be found.

AMY GOODMAN: Mike, we only have a few seconds, but can you talk about what you have been doing, the camp you have been building for people who are perhaps going to make their way from places like Jefferson County?

MIKE DiFILIPPO: Well, where I’m at here is a place called Camp TIAK, in Wiggins, Mississippi, and there’s a pretty good possibility that folks who are going to be — who are still coming out of, you know, looking for places to stay, could even be staying here. This is a Boy Scout camp that can take a large number of people, twelve to fifteen hundred acres of camp. And it was just seriously devastated. We just — but now we just got water back yesterday, got the electricity back yesterday. You know, a great deal of buildings all around this area, trees fall off it and electrical service gets pulled off the wall, and it’s something that the electric company won’t do. They’ll only fix your electrical lines up to the house. If something’s pulled off your house, meter boxes, and stuff like that, they won’t do it, you have to get either a private contractor to do it or do it yourself and get it inspected.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Flip, we want to thank you very much for being with us and doing the work you’re doing right now in Wiggins, Mississippi. Mike DiFilippo is Democracy Now! chief engineer. Looking forward to seeing you back next week. Jeremy Scahill speaking to us from Baton Rouge.

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