Historic Village of Pinhook rebuilds with help from CCSOMOSikeston MO
Faith-based agencies, as well as government and community agencies, partner to rebuild homes destroyed in 2011
There is a beauty that is inherent in the mission of Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri (CCSOMO) as it labors to improve the lives of those in southern Missouri who need it the most. That beauty was clearly found in the faces and the voices of the former residents of the Village of Pinhook, MO, on Fri., Jan. 26, 2018, when they were able to break ground for what will soon be seven new homes in Sikeston, MO.
The Village of Pinhook was located in an emergency flood zone and was destroyed by flooding in 2011 when the Army Corps of Engineers found it necessary to blow a levee on the Mississippi River to relieve flooding in a more populated area.
The 2011 disaster presented a special problem for the residents.
“Every one of these residents had flood insurance,” said Kyle Schott, CCSOMO Regional Director, “but it didn’t cover this because this was not a natural disaster—it was a man-made disaster.”
The Corps was not legally responsible because blowing the levee was a proper use of its power.
What followed was six years of paperwork and frustration.
“Many of them have had to double- and triple-up and share temporary rental housing,” said Schott.
But the residents persevered and many agencies worked together to find a solution, including the Bootheel Regional Planning Commission, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), and CCSOMO.
Founded in the early 1900s, Pinhook was a historic community established by sharecroppers who came up from southern states when they heard there was land to buy in southeast Missouri. Generation after generation stayed, forming a powerful bond of family and community.
“We were invested,” said Debra Tarver, former mayor of Pinhook. “There was a sense of place. We were emotionally connected to this place.” It was home.
Finally, on Jan. 5, 2018, the DED notified the residents that they would receive a Community Development Block Grant to help in relocation and rebuilding.
Nine homes are planned
January 26 was the date of the groundbreaking for seven of the residents’ homes on Apache Drive in Sikeston. A home will also be built north of Sikeston and another will be built in Charleston. CCSOMO is overseeing the project, utilizing volunteer labor, largely from Mennonite Disaster Services and Disaster Aid Ohio, which is an Amish group. Convoy of Hope is providing some of the materials and supplies.
Among those attending the groundbreaking was the Director of SEMA; three staff members from the DED; state representative Holly Rehder; representatives from Senator Roy Blunt’s office and US Representative Jason Smith’s office; Sikeston Mayor Steve Burch, as well as Karen Benson, Director of Disaster Services for Convoy of Hope.
“I have to wholeheartedly stand and cheer for the folks of Pinhook and everyone that never stopped trying to help them re-establish their community!” said Sheila Huddleston of SEMA, who was not at the ground-breaking, but sent an Email to the partners working on the project. “I’m beyond words … pleased that they are finally going to get homes rebuilt outside the floodplain. Their original community was historic and this an historic moment, so their legacy continues.”
Faith & hope
Opening the event with prayer was Fr. David Dohogne, pastor of St. Henry Parish, Charleston, and St. Francis Xavier Parish, in Sikeston. Remarks followed from Pastor Benjamin Porter, Gateway Church, Cape Girardeau. Seven Pinhook residents sang a moving and beautiful version of the Lord’s Prayer. In her remarks, Tarver spoke of the residents’ undying faith that they would be able to rebuild.
“You could feel the residents’ joy and their unshakeable commitment to each other,” said Maura Taylor, CCSOMO Executive Director. “I wish all our Catholic community could have seen their faces. I was inspired and so grateful that we have this agency—that our Catholic faith was well-represented in this project of bringing ‘community’ back to these families.”
If you would like to help with the costs of building, materials, and supplies for the residents of Pinhook, please visit the Website of Catholic Charities at www.ccsomo.org.