Book Relief for Hurricane Damaged Books

December 14, 2006
Reported by Pam Dixon

"Deer, deer stories." Nine year old Damon Pugh loves to read hunting stories. But along with much of Cameron, his school and the books in it were washed away during Hurricane Rita. Ten year old Larry LeDoux says, "The books are old and the pages are torn."

Now thanks to a partnership between a Washington based non profit group called First Book and the U.S. Department of Education, thousands of books will be pouring into Cameron, Calcasieu and other gulf coast areas devastated by the hurricanes of 2005.

Kit Lunney with First Book says, "We plan to give five million new books to areas along the gulf coast." First Book has found publishers across the country willing to donate brand new library books for free to help replace those lost or damaged.

"We lost half a million dollars worth of books," says Stephanie Rodrigue, who works with Cameron schools hurricane restoration. Rodrigue says, "The children really look at books the same way they look at their favorite toys." James Duhon with the U.S. Department of Education says, "The biggest battle is literacy in the country. This will go a long way to address that."

The donated books range from paper back and hard cover to dictionaries and sets of encyclopedias. Many students like those at Combre-Fondel Elementary School are being given free books to take home- all part of a nationwide effort to help turn a new page in the chapter of hurricane recovery.

Calcasieu Parish schools have already received more than 40-thousand books. First Book plans to distribute the new library books throughout the next year.