Mount Airy money and manpower will help flood victims rebuild

March 04, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

Mount Airy Mayor Gerald Johnson is looking for a few good workers to accompany him to Alexandria, Mo., next month.

Mr. Johnson hopes to form a work party to rebuild some of the homes of Alexandria residents destroyed last summer by floods.

The mayor is planning to leave Mount Airy on April 15 and spend 10 to 14 days in Alexandria.

He's looking for volunteers to donate their motor homes to make the 900-mile trip and to house the workers during their stay.

"We're looking for people like myself who don't have any particular skills, but who are willing to work," Mr. Johnson said. "And we're also looking for plumbers, electricians and any skilled individuals."

So far, Mr. Johnson has received offers of motor homes from Robert Hilton and Howie Price. Half a dozen people have volunteered their services for the trip. Mayor Johnson said he hopes to recruit at least 10 volunteer workers for the rebuilding project.

The town of Mount Airy adopted Alexandria's 120 families in August. Since then, Mount Airy residents and businesses have raised more than $47,000 for the Midwestern town, at the confluence of the Des Moines and Mississippi rivers.

Members of Mount Airy's flood-relief committee have made two trips to Alexandria, one in the fall to deliver food and medical supplies, and one during the holidays to deliver a tractor-trailer full of presents.

Mr. Hilton, who plans to lend his motor home for the April trip, will be making his second trek to Alexandria. He helped deliver food to the town in the fall.

"They're such tenacious people, and this is their home and their life," Mr. Hilton said. "They're going to stay right there on that river. I understand them."

Mayor Johnson said the goal of next month's trip is to rebuild the homes of some of the town's most needy residents.

"We're hoping to concentrate on the homes of elderly people or people without insurance," he said.

Alexandria's mayor, Bob Davis, is planning to send a list of prospective renovation candidates to Mount Airy, Mr. Johnson said.

Building materials will be purchased with some of the money raised by Mount Airy residents.

"If it weren't for Mount Airy and the church groups, Alexandria wouldn't be starting to do anything," Mayor Davis said. "They're a beautiful bunch of people."

Some rebuilding efforts are already under way in Alexandria, thanks to some Mennonite and Amish groups.

Mr. Davis said he has sold 60 building permits, and about 28 houses are nearly complete.

"I don't know how to thank everybody for what they're doing for my people here in town," he said.

Alexandria's mayor said the summer floods were particularly devastating because many improvements in town had recently been completed, including new streets and a new community center.

"It was getting to be a nice place to live," said Mr. Davis, who has been mayor for six years.

It's still unclear how many former Alexandria residents will return to live in the town. Mr. Davis said he expects about 60 percent of the town's 500 residents to come back to rebuild. "There's going to be a few that don't want to come back, but we'll help people who want to come back and need help," he said.

Much of the money collected through the Mount Airy flood-relief effort has been used to buy building materials and appliances, and to pay medical bills.

Mr. Davis said he's hoping to get some donations of grass seed and trees to bring green back to the mud-covered town.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the trip to Alexandria may call Mayor Johnson at (301) 829-1424.

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