On Pearlington and a Sister City

Bob Gibson was the first to call for a sister city in the hurricane-affected portion of the Gulf Coast, in addition to our existing three: Long Beach, Washington; Poggio a Caiano, Italy; and Besançon, France. David New and Oliver Kuttner, who recently took supplies down to the town of Pearlington, Mississippi, have suggested that would be the place to pick. In an editorial yesterday, the Daily Progress scolded City Council for their lack of action, and heartily endorsed the idea of establishing a relationship with some city, so that we could all direct our efforts there.

So, what’s up with Pearlington?

As of the 2000, the Hancock County town had a population of 1,684 and 648 households. It has a total area of 9.6 mi2, about the same size as Charlottesville. It’s 77% white, 20% black, and 1.4% Hispanic — again, similar to Charlottesville. The median household income is $31,000, nearly identical to Charlottesville, with 17.6% of the population under the poverty line, or 8% less than here.

A map shows that it’s right along the east-west Highway 90, nearly as far south in Alabama as you can go, smack on the Mississippi-Louisiana border. It’s about an hour’s drive from downtown New Orleans. The whole of Hancock County has a population of 43,000 people, about the population of Charlottesville.

Perhaps the only other thing to be said of Pearlington — and this does seem important — is that it was adopted by Carbondale, Colorado a couple of days ago, according to the Aspen Times (BugMeNot). Carbondale isn’t much larger than Pearlington. They’re looking to send down an RV with an emergency response team that will assess the situation and figure out what Carbondale needs to do for Pearlington.

Pearlington or otherwise, I’ll say right now that if Charlottesville adopts a Gulf town — and does so pronto — I’ll head down there myself and spend at least a week or so doing whatever needs doing.

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