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Yes, Franklin, there is a Santa Claus; eighteen Franklins unite to help another.

Yes Franklin,

Santa Claus came early to Franklin this year.

The City of Franklin, La., that is.

Last August, the 140-plus-mile-per-hour winds of Hurricane Andrew devastated the community of shout 10,000 located four miles from the Gulf of Mexico, felling nearly half of its landmark giant oak trees.

Police and fire department facilities were severely damaged, and the tourism office completely destroyed. Lamp posts were snapped in half and 40 percent of the sugar cane crop was rendered unmarketable to its full potential.

Once the storm died down, Mayor William H. Young, Jr. of Franklin, Ky. telephoned Franklin, La. Mayor Sam Jones to express his concern and offer assistance.

Young had previously thought of of creating an association of United States cities which shared the name Franklin. Now tragedy had brought the two mayors together.

During the conversation, Jones said he, too, had considered forming such a network to share problems and accomplishments and provide aid in times of crisis.

The next day, Young contacted the mayors of 18 other cities named Franklin, proposing the sister-city concept and asking that they offer support to Franklin, La. to boost the morale of its citizens.

The idea had been suggested by Mike Haggard of Franklin, Ky.'s Simpson County Bank, whose holding company owns a bank in Franklin, Tenn. Haggard coordinated Franklin, Ky. relief efforts, raising $3,400 from area businesses and citizens. The Tennessee bank also accepted contributions.

At a mid-September council meeting, Young requested and was granted a small appropriation for Franklin, La.'s general fund to aid rebuilding efforts.

Jones said he received donations of funds or goods from each of the Franklins.

One of the first to respond to Young's communication was Franklin, Pa. Mayor Jack Sanford. Once telephone service was restored, he called Jones to ask what was most needed and immediately sent 155 rolls of roofing material, 10 pallets of plywood and 49,000 pounds of food.

Since building materials disappeared from the markets after the hurricane, he contacted a friend at OwensComing and arranged for an additional 550 rolls of roofing material to be shipped directly from a Tennessee warehouse.

With $2,000 raised from his town's residents, Sanford, accompanied by a council member and local newspaper reporter, journeyed to Louisiana to join volunteers from many other communities across the nation in relief work, an experience which he said reinforced his confidence in humanity.

Franklin, Wisc.'s mayor solicited donations from his community, receiving $1,000 in cash, food, clothing, supplies and a large quantity of plywood from one local firm, according to Business Administrator Jim Payne. The donations filled a 16-foot truck which was driven to Louisiana by three public works department employees on their own time.

Jones said most of the contributions were monetary, which made it easier for his city to purchase needed items, as well as save on transportation costs.

He said most funds were used to repair homes, many occupied by elderly residents. More than 275 citizens applied for and received grants ranging from $15 to $1,000.

About 250 additional applications are awaiting processing and 50 families are still doubled-up with relatives and friends.

A shortage of roofing material is his city's greatest long-term problem according to Jones, who said 80 percent of structures sustained some roof damage.

City hall was one of about a score of buildings not impacted. Jones joked that it was "built more like a bunker."

Young plans to write to the other Franklins again next month in an effort to revive correspondence. He also plans a trip to Franklin, La.

He would like to set up a future roundtable discussion among officials from the various Franklins. With populations of less than 25,000, he feels they have a lot in common. And they could provide collective support to one another in the event of a future disaster.
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Author:Turner, Laura
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 21, 1992
Words:644
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