PORT TOWNSEND — On the morning of Aug. 29, a 35-foot wave of water generated by Hurricane Katrina swept over the Gulf Coast town of Bay St. Louis, Miss.
In addition to destroying 60 percent of the homes and leveling downtown buildings, the storm surge knocked out another economic mainstay — the preschools.
Now, through the efforts of Port Townsend Rotarians, one preschool will soon be back up and running.
“Preschools are of critical importance in the rebuilding of the economy,” Kees Kolff says.
“If families with kids don’t have a safe place to take them, the parents can’t go back to work.”
Kolff, former mayor of Port Townsend and a member of Port Townsend’s Noon Rotary Club, traveled with Port Townsend resident Carmen Matthews and Randy Sill, Kolff’s son-in-law, to Bay St. Louis in February to tour the city and perform volunteer work.
He stayed at the Port Townsend-Bay St. Louis Sister City campsite and visited the local Rotary Club.
While there, he delivered a check for $5,180 on behalf of two Port Townsend Rotary clubs as the first step in helping the owner of the Over the Rainbow preschool pick up the pieces.
“They see this as a joint project,” Kolff says of the Bay St. Louis Rotarians.