Dear Mom

Tonight, as I was flipping through the channels, I noticed the CNN Heroes ceremony was on. I'm not sure if you knew this, I'm sure I never told you, but, Mom, you are one of my heroes. Not my one and only but definitely a hero.

I watched you devote your time and energy to care for invalids and the terminally ill with compassion and tenderness. I will never forget how you approached your patients with love and concern. I often teased that you cared more for them than for us, especially when we were sick, but honestly, as I watched you work bringing comfort to others, I could not have been more proud.

I know you hoped I would pursue a career in the medical profession but I just couldn't. I'm not as strong or as compassionate as you were. I feel so honored to have witnessed those intimate moments. Through your example, you set a standard I try to emulate in my own field. I am only sorry more people will not have the opportunity to see you in action.
You are my Mother, my friend, and forever my hero.

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During my forty years of service to my fellow citizens, whether in the military or working in disaster response and recovery, I have been blessed with the opportunity of working with and becoming friends with so many wonderful human beings. After working and sharing time with these extra-ordinary individuals my personal conclusion is these people are far more than a product of a good childhood or having great mentors.
I believe these individuals are born with a spirit that creates a strong need for helping others that defies description. I have seen this time after time during my career, but none more than a group of individuals from FEMA Region on IV who always stood ready and answered the call regardless of the time, day or night. These individuals would drop whatever they were doing and immediately travel, by whatever means necessary, (often at night ), to be on site the following day and prepared to conduct Joint Damage Assessments with State and Local first responders. They never hesitated to respond to the call to serve. They also made significant contributions during FEMA recovery and temporary housing missions. Most of these individuals had a long career of service to helping others before coming to FEMA. Many had retired but the strong need to help others was still there.
Former and current members of the FEMA family have made many sacrifices in responding to the needs of our fellow citizens' call for help. However, we all can identify some unique co- workers that stand above the crowd. I like to think of them as thoroughbreds, always answering the call, regardless how tired they may have been. There are a large number of these thoroughbreds within our FEMA family.
Today, I would like to express my personal appreciation and gratitude to some dear friends and special individuals who have spent a lifetime of service to their fellow citizens. These individuals are Jack McLeod, Walter Davis and Gene Pope.
Walter Davis and Gene Pope were retired firefighters before joining the FEMA family.
Jack McLeod retired from serving his fellow citizens of the State of Alabama. Just as you can’t stop a thoroughbred's desire to run, you could not stop these individuals' desire to serve their fellow citizens. These gentlemen are three of my favorite Thoroughbreds.
May God bless all my FEMA family during this holiday season. May God bless and protect our troops and this wonderful country that we live in.
Love to All-
Don Kidd

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Field Photos 11.18.09

Wednesday, November 18th we returned to Willow Street in Pascagoula to survey. Unlike many areas along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Pascagoula continues to retain many of the large oak trees that were present prior to Hurricane Katrina. The Spanish Moss, characteristic of oak trees that grow in the South, hangs abundantly from the trees' branches, creating a sense of mystery and romance on this small suburban street.
Amanda explained that the roots of this oak created a "fairy seat." Thinking this was a great photo opportunity we decided to document the moment.
This sign was posted on the exterior of a home individually listed in The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Allow me to identify, just in case it isn't clear, the discrepancies between my description and the sign. First, it's the National REGISTER not Registry. Second, it's HISTORIC, meaning the "AL" is unnecessary. Third, multiple building types are listed in the National Register. The Register is not limited to homes. For that reason, it is referred to as the National Register of Historic PLACES.
As Amanda points out, the locals often substitute locally devised lingo for actual terminology. This is an excellent example of such behavior.

Prior to breaking for lunch we surveyed a beautiful historic residence. Although we analyze and document structures everyday it is rare we are able to see the structures' interiors. Whenever we are invited inside we eagerly accept. Seeing the interior of a structure enables us to understand the building plan and the possible evolution of alterations over time. Entering the antique store, one of the first things I noticed was this bed. Custom designed for a woman in New Orleans, the bed remained in her family until she passed away. Her son sold the bed to the antique store and they are willing to part with it for a mere 10K.
The bed of my dreams, a dear, sweet, loving friend of mine pointed out, will continue to remain so, at that price. If only...
The owner assured me they had a great lay-away program. The only problem is by the time I pay for the bed I will be so old I will only be able to sleep in it a few times before...well... you know. A girl can always dream. Looks like this girl will be dreaming in any bed but the one pictured here.

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A Non-Vocal Serenade..

but sincere just the same.

"Yes, it's true (yes, it's true) I am happy to be stuck with you,
Yes, it's true (yes, it's true) I'm so happy to be stuck with you,
'Cause I can see, (I can see) that you're happy to be stuck with me."

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Field Photo of the Day

As an architectural historian I have the privilege of working outdoors a lot! Not only is it a nice break from the office but it provides many opportunities to explore areas and communities I would not become familiar with otherwise. In an effort to document my time in Biloxi I have decided to post a photo of something interesting we see during our survey each day. After discussing my idea with Amanda and Hugh they agreed to help me identify interesting images to share on this blog.
Our current survey area is located in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Since we work outdoors our work schedule is often determined by the weather. We have been fortunate to have a pretty dry and mild Fall, enabling us to work in the field a lot lately. Today while surveying a home on Lake Avenue Amanda pointed out the banana tree pictured above. It is located on Grove Street, which I failed to notice the previous Friday when we surveyed the area. The tree's fruit I am accustomed to seeing but I have never, until today, noticed the flowers a banana tree produces. Not only are they lovely but a welcome surprise to someone, like me, who is unfamiliar with the foliage common to the Coast.

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