Monday, April 10, 2006


Where to start...
Brian and I returned last night from a week in Mississippi. I could say that we stayed in Pass Christian, but there really isn't a city of Pass Christian anymore. The entire coast line for about 100 miles is gone. There is a highway that runs right along the beach and as you drive along all you see are foundations, steps leading to nowhere, and rubble. It's hard to really believe.

We stayed at a recently vacated FEMA tent camp. There were about 80 tents with probably room for roughly 10 people each. They were the nicest thing around with wooden interior walls covered by the tents and then air conditioners. Coolness and no bugs... heaven! I don't know much about MASH, but people say it looks like that. The only bad part was porta potties and water in a shower trailer for only 3 hours morning and night.

The good part was we ate meals at Camp Gospel, a music camp, and also got to use their shower facilities which had way better pressure! I'm so glad we didn't have to stay there though because they didn't have air conditioning or screens in the windows! The worst part of the whole week were the tiny gnats that hurt when they bit. We though they didn't itch and for that we were grateful... for a day. Then we all were going crazy. Delayed reaction bugbites... only in the South! I look like I have some disease on my arms and legs! Oh, and bug spray did nothing to them...

After about the first day the humidity wasn't too bad. The food was wonderful, prepared by Amish and Brethren women, mostly from Pennsylvania. We spent Monday and Tuesday working at the camp, renovating one of the dorms. We mostly sanded drywall and mudded. I'm not very good at either! Brian and I hung some insulation and put up some drywall in the downstairs that wasn't quite as far along as the upstairs. This was where the Free Methodist Care Team (which we were part of) was supposed to stay, but since it was getting renovated we got booted to the tent camp. Thank you Lord!

Wednesday I went to help at the local distribution center located next to God's Katrina Kitchen. Anyone can come for free and get food, clothing, basic medicines, and hot meals. They are starting to drop off in food donations and are thinking of closing that part down as it doesn't seem to be as big a need. The food kitchen is going strong though and feeds almost 1000 people a day, many of them volunteers that have come down to help.

Thursday was more painting upstairs and then to a Volunteers Lunch put on by some ladies from the church we went to on Sunday. Southern Black Baptist church 2 1/2 hours long... awesome!

Friday all our team went home except Brian and I and Gillian, a doctor who had come in on Tuesday. She helped in the tent camp medical tent and Brian and I went out to a couple's house to help them. At first we thought they didn't need much help and we wanted to be more "useful", but after talking to them we found out they are older than they look with quite a few medical problems and no insurance. They wouldn't know where to start without the volunteer labor. Their house has a 10 foot carport area underneath on stilts and then the house on top. There was water 7 feet up in the living area... 17 feet of flood water on their property basically. They lost everything and are currently living in a FEMA trailer next to their house. They are so grateful for the volunteers that in a little two room place on the ground level they are going to let some of the Free Methodist long term leaders live there. (because the camp will be in use this summer) Their names are Leah and Jared and they were just so thankful we were there even though in a day and a half it didn't feel like we'd been able to help that much.

Over the course of the week we drove to various surrounding communities to see the devastation. It was unreal. We also went to New Orleans Sunday night. We went to the French Quarter which wasn't flooded, but all the way there we saw abandoned houses and FEMA blue roofs. Many of the places haven't even been touched since the storm. One school in Long Beach we were able to walk through. There were chains on the doors, but holes in the walls. The water line was about 5 feet. I went in the library and all the bookshelves were tumbled with mildewy, soggy books everywhere. A few pictures on the walls above the water line were perfect and there was a clock still telling the right time. Down the hallway, even rooms without holes in the walls, their furniture was all jumbled. And you could still read the writing on the white boards and calendars that said August. Eery.

Driving down the roads there were a few houses tall enough and strong enough to withstand the water. Their lower levels were gone and the upper story would look perfect. It was very odd. And then you could see all the pipes and wires just hanging loose. Most of the homes that were very badly damaged haven't even been started on. Right now those that only needed gutting and remodeling are being worked on. This area will be nowhere near normal a year from the storm. I sincerely hope that we do not forget about the Gulf Coast because they will be rebuilding and needing help and support for years to come.

We do have a ton of pictures, but at the moment the blog is not being cooperative. Stay posted for a link to pictures.

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