University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations

August 19, 2006
Contact: Joy Washington, USA Office of Public Relations, (251) 460-6638

USA Professor Receives National Recognition for Making a Difference Following Hurricane Katrina

Mobile, Ala., -- Dr. Irene McIntosh, associate professor in the College of Education at the University of South Alabama, will be recognized for serving as team leader in assisting D’Iberville, Miss., with its hurricane response and recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration will recognize McIntosh and others on May 24 at The Spirit of Recovery National Summit to be held in New Orleans.

Dr. Irene McIntosh, associate professor in the College of Education at the University of South Alabama

McIntosh, along with the recovery team of the D’Iberville Volunteer Foundation, has worked many hours to help rebuild the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which is expected to take up to five years to complete. She has used her counseling skills to help hurricane victims get their lives back, and has helped volunteers deal with the pain that they see every day in those who have lost so much.

“I’m pleased that the recovery team has been able to continue to make a difference in the lives of so many people in need,” said McIntosh. “This process has captured the hearts of Americans and the human spirit.”

The City of D’Iberville was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, affecting more than 5,000 citizens who are living in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s temporary housing. According to McIntosh between 60 to 280 volunteers are coming to the city to help on a weekly basis.

“We task the volunteers based on their skills,” McIntosh said. “We take the volunteers through an orientation process when they arrive to help, and we debrief them at the end of each day.”

People nationwide have made donations, including several computers needed to imput data on the number of volunteers, goods and services that are provided. This information will be helpful in seeking additional funding needed to rebuild most of D’Iberville. McIntosh and her team are also sending thank-you notes to each volunteer and donor, and developing a manual to help other small towns and municipalities.

Mayor of the City of D’Iberville Rusty Quave said since Hurricane Katrina, McIntosh and her team has worked around-the-clock to meet the needs of her community. McIntosh has also continued to work on the disaster recovery project while teaching a full load at USA and conducting research for the Monroe County Public School System.

“Prior to organizing volunteer help, Irene and her team developed and implemented a needs-assessment instrument to identify the needs of D’Iberville citizens impacted by hurricane Katrina,” said Quave. “The team spent 20 to 22 hours a day feeding and housing volunteers and storm victims. Irene also opened her home to volunteers and storm victims, providing meals and comfort. Basically, her home has served as a bed-and-breakfast and supply storage facility.”

According to Quave, as a result of McIntosh’s leadership, the team established a soup kitchen for first responders, citizens and volunteers in a concession stand at the D’Iberville Recreation Complex, and a free medical clinic was set up in the section of a nearby grocery story.

He said she also formed networks through volunteer organizations active in disasters, such as the New Hope of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Program, Mobile Bay Area Food Bank; the United Methodist Church in Spanish, Fort, Ala.; Hope Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn; the cities of Avon and La Grange, Ind; Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society; Mississippi and Indiana Air National Guard units; Warner Robins, Ga., Boy Scouts of America; numerous colleges and universities, and other faith-based groups and individuals.

“I’m grateful that I have been able to use my skills as a trained counselor to help my fellow citizens,” said McIntosh. “We will work until every family affected is living back in their homes.”

With the hurricane season underway, McIntosh said they have already stored nonperishable foods, water and other essential items. They have also secured shelter sites located a distance from the coastal area.

“We are better prepared for this hurricane season,” she said. “We are recovering and preparing one-day at a time.

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